The Second Way: The Pittie in the SplittyAnd then there are the dogs. We have had dogs since we first met, and our current pair has now been properly introduced to the Bus. Buddy the pit bull actually came from the Dodger Stadium rental. One rainy morning we were headed out to breakfast when we encountered a large and leaping brindle pit bull in the road. He was barely more than a puppy, perhaps six months old, all head and feet, and we couldn’t get our car past him. I jumped out to try to move the dog, and he jumped right in the open door, curled into a ball in the back seat, and looked at us as if to say “OK, then, where are we going?” We had no training with pit bulls, and I was afraid of their locking jaws and toddler eating ways, so we tried and tried to get rid of him. We tried to find his owners, trained him, fixed him, took him to adoption events, but nobody was interested in the big, brown bull. Meanwhile, we were keeping him in the garage where he amused himself by eating our Christmas ornaments, tossing metal lawn chairs back and forth, having explosive diarrhea from too many rawhides (given to him in the hope that he would stop destroying things, or that he would at least only destroy things that were given to him to be destroyed), and then he even ate part of a motorcycle stored there. It was not an ideal situation, to say the least.
At our last adoption event, after Buddy had been such a good boy and no one had even noticed him, everyone looking for a Golden Retriever or a Labradoodle, we were walking away and discussing our options. The man from the pit bull rescue, Downtown Dog, had told me that Buddy probably had the best home he would ever have with us, and although I really wanted to find Buddy a home as we already had a cantankerous Jack Russell and a stand offish Chow Chow (who had zero interest in adding a crazy pit to the pack), I knew we were defeated. More than that, at the adoption event, I’d realized I loved Buddy, and that losing him would be a blow to me. Robert felt the same way, and so Buddy found a home. After 10,000.00 dollars worth of knee surgery, I hope he knows that he is the best boy.
Our other dog, Joey, is a more recent addition. More specifically, he is a Chihuahua. Pit bulls and Chihuahuas are a common partnership in Los Angeles, but I never meant to keep Joey, either. Joey was a foster dog, yanked from Baldwin Park after being placed on a kill list, and I agreed to watch him for a bit. Almost immediately, I knew Joey was trouble. For one thing, Buddy wasn’t sure just what Joey was. Joey went under his legs, and Buddy looked up at me like “Mom! What is that? Why can it go there?” When Joey curled up to sleep in Buddy’s voluminous toy basket, Buddy gave me his pensive look: Is that a dog, or a toy? But Joey’s problems were larger than just disturbing the pit bull. To start with, he was extremely needy and had terrible separation anxiety. Then there were his teeth: “I’d just pull them all,” one vet said, and that’s not to mention the oral nasal fistulas. Then there was the peeing on things (no rugs in my house anymore). By the time we had a good idea just who Joey was, a manipulative tiny dog, it was too late. I was cuddling with him on the couch one night, and this is before he started “protecting” me and growling at Robert all the time, and I realized he was the perfect dog for me. He was awful, true, and needed very expensive dental surgery, and had recently begun peeing on furniture, but I loved him. I found myself describing him as the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of dogs, a snaggle toothed monster who just looks like he would eat paste (full disclosure: he eats poop). “Can we keep him?” I asked Robert. Robert rolled his eyes. “He’s terrible, I know,” I said, “And he’s like every terrible boyfriend I ever had, but he’s perfect for me!” I meant that Joey somehow embodied all the worst qualities of the men I was involved with before Robert, and something in his terrible need for me—he sticks to me like glue—and his total belief that he is in charge, picking fights with much larger dogs (dogs who have teeth)—well, there was something appealing in this for me, and I know it says much more about me than about Joey. To his credit, Robert accepted this, and now Joey has a forever home.
“Where did the man go?”
But the first time we took the dogs in the Bus, it was a real experience. We showed it to them when we got home, but they didn’t appreciate the magnitude of the situation. Then we decided to take them for a ride. Buddy got in the back, sat on the seat, and looked around as if to say, “Pretty cool little house you got here in the garage. It’s even got a couch. Nice.” Joey was trying to get on the driver’s lap, his preferred way of riding. Then Robert started the bus. Both dogs thought that was a little weird, but whatever. Humans do weird things, like bringing a tree in the house, covering it with sparkly things, putting boxes under it, yelling at dogs who try to drink out of the water bowl under the tree, and then they take the tree out again, so yeah, whatever. Then Robert reversed out of the garage, and I happened to look back at Buddy. “What the….” was his expression. Joey, meanwhile, recognized a car in motion, and curled up to sleep. He’s like a baby that way.
“Hey, this thing moves!”
Now there is an embarrassing detail here, but embarrassing only for Buddy, and I doubt he’s reading this, so here goes. As long as we have had Buddy, the vibrations of riding in a car have, well, excited him. More specifically, he always gets an erection in a car, and when I look back, he looks right back at me, with an expression like “Mom, I feel funny.” I wondered if this would happen with the Bus, and given that the Bus has considerably more rumble power than a Prius, I wasn’t surprised to see that by the time we made it to the bottom of the hill, Buddy was standing at attention. Maybe that’s why he likes to ride in the car.
That first day, we drove them to the park, walked around, and went home. The next week, we took them to another park and walked around. I think I can say with full confidence and no anthropomorphizing that the dogs now love the Bus. Joey tries to drag me to the garage on morning walks, and you’d be surprised at how hard a Chihuahua can pull. I am pretty sure now that anytime we get in the Bus, the dogs will have a positive association with it. After all, it’s the one vehicle that never goes to the vet, only to parks, and there is plenty of room—what’s not to like? This weekend we plan on taking a “big” trip up to Santa Barbara to the beach in the bus. I think that will seal the deal: what could be better than a car ride to the most magical place on earth, the beach?
Update: August 14th: Beach Trip!
Now that we are back from the beach trip—and more about that in the third installment of this L.A. post—I can definitely say that the dogs love the bus. On Sunday we went to three beaches, then crashed in a Motel 6. Buddy was so tired that when I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk, he looked at me like I was crazy. Joey got bowled over by one wave, recovered, then got caught by a second one. I was yelling at him “Run, Joey, run!” but he was just staring at me, oblivious to the roiling surf at his back, so I ended up with a wet, sandy Chihuahua, and Joey stayed away from the ocean proper after that. And yes, there was the obligatory rolling in dead things and peeing in the ocean, but the dogs had a great time. Buddy learned a new command: “Get on the couch!” and Joey’s dog bed fit nicely between the front seats, so once we hit a cruising speed of at least 35, he conked out. The Bus seems to take the dogs in stride—Buddy’s nails don’t seem to damage his upholstery, and both of them are eager to load up. We had some nice picnics and dinners, just sitting in the bus, and I can see how this will make camping with the boys a much easier proposition.
Jenny and the boys in the Bus.