Suffering Guilt

If you mess up, ‘fess up. ~Author unknown

Monkey (also known as Houdini)

I knew better.

Dogs should be in crates — or somehow secured — when riding in a car. They should be taught to Come When Called.

And Shelties just might be the best escape artists ever.

If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know my little Monkey was a pretty sick pup for the first year-and-a-half of his life.

Consequently, I failed to teach him things he needed to learn. I mean, really, how do you train a pup when you can’t feed him treats without upsetting his already-sickly tummy?

I also failed to be firm when I needed to, letting him get away with all kinds of stupid monkey business.

And the other day, we both nearly paid for my failures with his life.

(Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but you need to know how serious I am … and how guilty I still feel.)

Monkey had a vet appointment for a vaccination.

No big deal. We’ve done that sort of thing before. But Monk gets real anxious, pacing and panting. He refuses to ride nicely in his crate; instead, he whines and scratches the sides before making that gagging sound like he’s going to give his lunch the heave-ho.

Hard to keep one’s eyes on the road with all that commotion.

When we left, Gramma asked me to drop off something inside the Post Office that needed to be mailed.

I didn’t want to. I feared that, despite the relative cool temps, somebody would smash my car windows while I was gone in an over-vigilant effort to “save” my sweltering dog.

Gramma was insistent.

Well, Monk hopped in the front seat with me holding his harness and leash to make sure he wouldn’t fly through the windshield if I had to make a sudden stop.

Getting to the P.O., I parallel parked, grabbed the letter, and turned the car off, instructing Monk to “wait right here” and I’d be “back in a minute.”

No sooner had I opened the door — even before I could extricate myself from the car — Monkey had slipped between me and the driver’s seat and out onto the pavement.

My heart shot into my throat.

There Monk stood, leash dragging limply beside him. Staring wildly in all directions.

Frozen with fear.

You can’t run after a Sheltie — they’ll just panic and run away. Still, I jumped out of the car, gasped when I noticed an older-model van approaching on our side, and yelled for Monkey to stop and come back.

Miraculously, he did.

He jumped in the car and so did I, our heats pounding in presto time. I hugged him fiercely and offered fervent Thank You prayers for what surely could have been an untimely trip to the Rainbow Bridge for him.

I’m still quaking, but I’ve learned my lesson:

1) Train your dog early — and often — to Come When Called, no matter the distractions.

2) Insist your dog be in a crate while riding in the car (or secured with something like LeashBoss.)

3) Cover your dog in prayer.

Don’t let my story become yours!

25 thoughts on “Suffering Guilt

  1. OMG. I couldn’t read this. I was so afraid. I skimmed, hopping along, catching a word here and there until I got to the part where you were both in the car again. And then I let my breath, held from the beginning, go. I’m SO glad you’re both ok. Agree, they have to be trained to come from their first days with us. Likely saved his life. Good job mom.

    • I can’t tell you how scary this was, Dawn. The weird thing is, I’d tried teaching him how to Come, but mostly, he never seemed to “get” it. This actually was the FIRST time he obeyed … instantly. Was he afraid, too? Yes, I imagine he was, not seeing or smelling anything familiar outside the car. I like to think my Guardian Angel simply scooped him up and tossed him back to safety in the car!

  2. And as someone who knows how hard it can be to do so — a little training for Gramma sometimes is in order. Sometimes, two chores require two trips. The errand-runner should be in charge!

    That said, thank goodness there was a happy ending. Dixie Rose always traveled in a crate, despite her howling. But I did worry about her escaping through an open door, and I always told visitors and pet sitters to be certain she wasn’t at the door when they came or went. I’m afraid that if she’d ever taken off, I wouldn’t have gotten her back — and she never, ever would have come when called. Kudos to Monkey for that instinctive return to the safety of Mama’s car!

    • You are sooo right … Gramma needs training, too! When I told her what happened, she, of course, was horrified. Could her letter have been mailed in another trip, or even dropped outside? Definitely. And should have been.

      From now on, it’s inside a crate or attached to that doggie seat belt for my Monkey’s car rides! Dallas used to lie calmly on the entire back seat, half sleeping. But he was older and calmer. Would he have Come when called? Who knows, but we never “tested” it either!

  3. Debbie, I’m absolutely understand your feelings because, whew!, what a scary thing to have happen. I clicked on the link to see what a Leash Boss was and thought is was a brilliant little device – a doggie seatbelt!

    So happy to hear that Monkey came back into the car when you called, and that this story ended on a positive note because I was worried.

    I remember taking my cats to the vet, and they too would get anxious and make that same kind of sound Monkey did. One of my cats took to the crate well, while the other one refused to get inside. He preferred sitting on my lap while I drove. LOL!

    ADORABLE photo of Monkey!

    Have a super Monday, my friend! X

    • Ron, Monk would LOVE sitting on my lap while I drive … only he’s so antsy that he stands and sits, stands and sits, like a Jack-in-the-Box, interfering with every ounce of safe driving practices! I thought I was doing okay by holding onto him while he rode in the passenger seat, but I failed to factor in his eagerness both to get OUT of the car and be wherever I am!

      In fact, that’s probably why he came back to me at all — not because he understood the “Come” command, but because I was still beside the car and he always wants to cling to me! Thank Heaven for that!

      Besides working on getting him more comfortable riding in the car — on his doggie seatbelt! — I’m doing “remedial” training on that Come When Called thing. Yes, who knew stuff like that could save his life?

      Thanks for reading, my friend. Enjoy the week ahead! xx

  4. Such a scare. Glad Monkey came to you. We have a car seat for Twiggy that has a restraint. She can’t leave on her own. Lucy is trained to get down only when ordered. You are so right about making sure these guys are safe. I’m so happy you are not giving this lesson from a tragic outcome. 😁

  5. I can just imagine how scary that episode was for both of you, yikes. We have a harness and seat cover in the back seat for our Wren, it keeps her safe and us worry-free. Recommended!

    • And to think I had a pocket full of “cookies” that I never even remembered to use as “bait”! Argh, what a nightmare. Truth really *is* stranger than fiction (I wouldn’t read a book where something like this happened — I’d be too frightened of a tragic outcome!)

  6. Oh, Debbie, I’m so glad the story had a happy ending. Good boy, Monkey, for jumping back into the car! That feeling of guilt is so awful, and it still stays with us even if the worst doesn’t happen. I remember flying up to Scotland from London with my then cats once, and one of them escaped from his basket in the luggage hold. I didn’t know at the time and the staff managed to wrangle him back in with no harm done, but I can still feel the guilt over what might have happened all these years later! Cuddles to Monkey and a big hug to you!

    • Oh dear. Somehow, I didn’t think about cats escaping. Now that I’ve read about your experience, part of me shudders once again at how terrifying it is to go through, and part is glad to learn Monkey isn’t the only pet who seems to think he’s Houdini! Glad your kitty was re-crated safely!

  7. That’s a good reminder, and one I needed because I’ve also gotten lax about Finn in a car. He hates to be left behind, but he’s terrible in the car: panting, pacing, poking at me with his paw, etc. I’ve tried three different harnesses before finding one that worked, in the back seat. Then we had three grandkids, and my backseat filled up with car seats, so Finn was back in the front with me. Time to find a harness that works in the front seat…… So glad Monkey was okay!!!!

    • Monkey is the same — hates being left behind, but is a terrible passenger. I’m glad Finn hasn’t put you through something like this — it’s awful!! The guilt feelings are still overwhelming, and my mind keeps replaying the whole scene. It could have been so much worse, I realize, but before Monk goes on another car trip, I’m going to make some changes in HOW he travels. Glad you got something from our story, Ann.

  8. Yes, that was a scary situation for you Debbie and I bet Monkey’s sensibilities had him running right back to Moma’s loving arms.

    I kept the Animaze Portable Canvas Dark Grey Dog Crate, 36″ L X 24″ W X 23″ H which is soft canvas with window nets in the back seat of my VW Bug for my 30 lbs anxious York-a-chon. He could step up into the floor board then into the crate. Place one soft toy and an old smelly Tee shirt of yours to give comfort scents. I didn’t need to use treats.

    And I use a hand carrying
    PortoPet Yukon Soft-Sided Travel Carrier for Dog or Cat – Airline Approved by portopet that I keep in the house on the floor and she likes to nap in it. I tell Yorkie to go get in her travel bag and she does with joy. No coaxing with treats necessary.

    I traveled with 2 dogs a lot and took the into hotels and car adventure vacations. So they both loved getting into their crates. I found these types of solutions in person at either Petco or Petsmart.

    I’m offering just some ideas that works for us. I’m sure you will select something that you and Monkey will like too.

    I’m glad that both of you are well after such a scare!

    • TD, thanks so much for all your helpful suggestions! I have a soft-sided crate that works for stationary use inside, as well as two wire crates (both for different areas of the house). Monk is fine with a crate that’s stationary — I think it’s the movement of the car that he objects to. Of course, because he was so sick for so long, I wasn’t able to properly introduce him to the joys of riding in the car either, until he was older (and big enough to balk at the idea)

      Then, too, we need to work on his separation anxiety. He just doesn’t want to leave my side! Maybe that’s what brought him back during this horrifying experience? Don’t fret though — I’m going to keep trying things until we come up with a solution we both can tolerate!

  9. I’m so sorry this happened to you and Monkey, Debbie, but thank goodness you’re both all right. Having a close call like that can rattle our nerves and leave us feeling uneasy for quite some time afterwards. I hope with time, and with the training you plan to do, you both will become less anxious. (Sorry I’m so late to this post — still trying to catch up on comments since granddaughter’s visit.)

    • No worries, Barbara — just glad to see you here. Thanks for empathizing! Yes, it was traumatic (for me more than Monk, who probably has completely forgotten all about it by now!)

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