We are a family with animals. We’ve always had dogs and cats, and when the kids were little we had pet rats, a couple of birds, a hermit crab, and scores of fish. I’m a big fan of kids having pets — it teaches them responsibility and how to love something. And yes, rats are very nice pets — they’re smart and clean and don’t bite. Unlike hamsters, who will chew your face off if given the chance.
Our kids are older now. We haven’t had any exotic pets in a long time. The poor dogs are both so elderly they can’t travel with us and the cats are evil and can’t be trusted in a confined area. I keep throwing ideas out for a truck pet, something to keep George company when I’m not with him.
I’ve seen people with everything from dogs to ducks in the cab. I’ve seen cats, birds, snakes and rabbits. I have not seen a monkey or a wombat, but I’m certain there is someone out there traveling with one or both.
I keep my eyes peeled for a pet while we’re on the road. Some of the best dogs I’ve ever had were strays, and it would be appropriate to find the truck dog on the road.
George stopped at a place on the Navajo reservation in Arizona to stretch his legs and use the bathroom. I was in the back writing, and said I would meet him in a few minutes.
I finished up, started to get out and noticed a really mean-looking dog standing right beside the truck. I hesitated to open the door, then remembered I had five packages of vile tuna salad remaining in the food cabinet. I grabbed one and a few graham crackers and jumped out, ready to make new friends and avoid a pesky mauling.
The mean-looking dog stood his ground. He didn’t make any noise but didn’t wag his tail, either. I wasn’t getting a good vibe, so I did the most logical thing I could think to do and opened the tuna salad. As I was attempting to scoop the viscous crud out of the package with a graham cracker, a streak of fur whizzed by and took the whole package out of my hands. The mean dog had completely lost interest, but a wiry little puppy was totally interested and came out of nowhere to dine and dash. And then another one, and another and another, until I was being dragged to the ground by dingo puppies for graham crackers.
Of course George chose this very moment to walk out.
“Babe? You OK over there?”
“Help! The dingos are eating my shorts!”
“Why are you in the middle of a pack of wild dogs with graham crackers?”
“I thought one of them might make a good truck dog! Help me get this little bastard off my leg! His teeth are caught in my sock!”
“This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about. You have absolutely no regard for your safety when it comes to real things like wild dogs, but you won’t pee outside after dark because of El Chupacabra. How does that make any sense?”
“Can we discuss my startling lack of judgment when I’m NOT in danger of losing appendages? That would be great. Help me!”
I realized I was talking to his back, and truly thought he had finally had it and was leaving me in a pack of wild dingos when he started getting into the truck. Then he blew the air horn and every single dog for a three mile radius ran and hid.
“Well, gah. If you’d just do that when El Chupacabra comes to eat our faces off, we’ll survive after all.”
“Please just get in the truck.”
“Can we keep the little dingo?”
“Those Navajo ladies are laughing at you.”
“OK, damn. Hang on a minute while I get this dog slobber off my leg….”