Al Vinikour is a Midwest based freelance auto writer. Proving a mind is a “terrible thing to use” he sometimes sits in traffic and ponders about things – generally auto related – that make him mad. Believing the “pen is mightier than the sword” (and generally results in a lot less jail time), he vents his anger through a word processor and produces the Driver’s Side Diatribe column.
Al’s articles are published every Monday in the Chicago Sun Times in addition to other newspapers in the Midwest. Thank you, Al, for permitting us to use this article!
YOUR DOG IS NOT AN AIRBAG
By Al Vinikour
How many times have you been driving down the street and saw a vehicle coming toward you that looked like it was being driven by a dog? No, you’re not high on Red Bull, my friend. You’re looking at an overt abuser of his pet and a danger to every other vehicle on the highway.
I’ve been around long enough to know what dogs like…and generally it’s to ride in a car and stick their head out the window. Fair enough. Fresh air never hurt anybody as long as they’re not opening the windows on a 757. Also, it’s rather cute to see a dog stick its head out the passenger – or rear window of a vehicle. Except for the occasional insect he’ll have poke him in the face it’s great fun to feel the wind blowing through their hair (ah…I sure remember those days). As long as your dog isn’t foolish enough to run to the first person who clucks at him and says, “Here, Boy” it will be okay. If your dog is one of those types then take the night off because chances are you won’t be cleaning up his mess that that evening.
I don’t care if you’re driving a city bus with 20 windows. If a dog wants to stick his head out of any of them he’s welcome to it. What I object to are those “PETophiles” who insist on letting their dogs sit on their laps while they drive and even allow them to stick their heads out of the driver’s side window. Forget that it’s probably not healthy for the dog…it can be fatal for your fellow travelers. For discussion let’s say your name is Frank and you have a beagle named Bud. The beagle likes to go for car rides but even more-so likes to sit on Frank’s lap. Quite often the dog will stand up and stick his head out the window for a burst of air. While Bud is blinded by the rush of cinders that just flew into his eyes he stands up and blocks Frank’s view. Not only that, he gets his tail caught in the steering wheel spoke and as he’s turning causes the vehicle to veer into an opposite lane and plows head-first into an oncoming Peterbilt 18-wheeler hauling 30,000 pounds of pig iron.
An entire chain of events happens. The driver of the semi somehow survived the impact – which is a lot more than can be said for Frank and Bud. However, the collision caused the lock chains to break lose and dump the entire load of pig iron on the station wagon of some impoverished family who miraculously won the Mega Ball Lottery and were headed to the state capitol building to collect their winnings and start the new life they thought God had given them. God didn’t give them a new life…it was that dumb ass Frank and the life he gave the poor people is in the after – just because he was wanted to score points with his dog and was too stupid to consider the consequences of his actions.
Just the collateral damage alone was serious. Since the accident happened during rush hour the freeway was probably closed for hours – causing countless commuters a nice dinner with their families and the opportunity to watch Wheel of Fortune.
Realistically, dogs are not a substitute for airbags, so if someone wants to burn a brain cell or two, they should consider what a dog’s position would be if there were a head-on collision and the steering-wheel airbag deployed. One crushed dog coming up! You’re familiar with the rivalry between dog-owners and cat-owners. Well, I ask you…when is the last time you ever saw a cat sitting on a driver’s lap with his head out the window? Case dismissed.
While I’m on the subject, what about Einstein wannabees who let their dogs romp around the back of a pickup while the truck that’s rolling down the highway? What’s that all about? It doesn’t matter if there’s an Akita walking around back there…if a truck – especially a 4×4 with stiff suspension – hits a stretch of unusually rough road, that dog is probably going to earn his pilot’s license and secure a place in pet heaven on the same flight.
If someone is just driving around his farm or ranch and let’s the dog enjoy the wind sweeping across the pickup bed, that’s one thing. But when the same guy pulls the same stunt on Vale Park Road he should be charged with animal cruelty – even though his poor dog won’t be alive to testify on his own behalf. If someone thinks it would be criminal to drive with a small child on his lap or let a toddler roll around the bed of his Chevy Silverado…but it’s okay to let his dog do those things…should be forced to stand in the bed of a speeding Dodge Ram 3500 on a washboard road…with a vial of nitroglycerin in each hand. How’s that working for you? Al Vinikour
Always pick up after your dogs!