When our litter of Berner puppies were barely two days old and just under two pounds each, we bundled them up in a padded, warm carrier, and along with mamma, brought them in to the vet’s to have their dew claws removed. If removed in the first week of life, dew claws are still soft like a fingernail and can be removed relatively easily with no stitches required. I sat in the back seat to keep an eye on the pack as Malcolm drove into town to the clinic. Tiamo kept an eye on me, not trusting and unsure of the process, she was an anxious mamma, agitated we were moving her pups. Three hours later we were back home, the lit’ tykes happily nursing, Tiamo calm now that she had her puppies under her care.
Eight weeks later we brought them back to the vet’s for their first set of shots – DHPP which includes Distemper, Parvo, Parainfluenza, and Heartworm prevention. Malcolm had prepped the SUV, back seats laid down and lined with a tarp for “accidents”, he loaded up eight roly-poly, tail-wagging, wiggling puppies, each weighing from the low-to-high twentys’, into the car. To the puppies, it was their first official car ride, a new adventure in a new setting. With Malcolm driving, I rode shotgun, half-turned in my seat to keep an eye on the little souls. Eight little noses immediately started sniffing and exploring the inside of the car. Tails straight up, their little noses wrinkling as they would catch an unfamiliar new scent, they searched out every nook and cranny in the car. Dolce was the first explorer to find her way up into the front seat territory. She started with two white-capped paws on the hard plastic console, wobbling between the padded edge of the back seat and the middle arm rest as she tried to advance. Stretched out and stuck fast, I caught her just as she was about to do a backwards tumble into the black hole called the floor and placed her on my lap. Safe and secure, she nestled in between my legs, occasionally standing to peek out the window, only to plop back down on my lap with a contented sigh. It was the start of Dolce’s fascination with the front seat and sitting on my lap.
Bigger and heavier by many pounds, by week twelve, most of the puppies had left for their new homes, leaving Amore and Dolce, the two puppies we kept. It was time for another round of shots, their DHPP booster and their Bordetella, Lepto and Lyme vaccines, requiring another trip to the vet’s. Once again, Malcolm folded the back seats down, laid a tarp over the back-end and loaded up the girls. As they muscled their way around the car, excited to be on another car ride, I climbed into the passenger seat. I had barely clicked my seat-belt when a cold wet nose nudged my elbow. Wiggling under my arm, Dolce had barreled her way onto my lap. 35 pounds of determined canine snuggled up on my lap, her paws hanging over my knees, her tail happily whacking Malcolm as he drove. Dolce had found her spot – my lap.
As Dolce and Amore continued grow, so did their love of travel. Using the 65 rule, the equation is simple: 6 months old = 65 lbs. = 65 mph. = a 65 minute trip in the car + Dolce sitting at a sixty-five degree angle on my lap. As soon as they hear the car keys jingle, they are out the door and in the car, with Dolce readily claiming dibs on the front. All under 6.5 seconds. I’d have to scoot Dolce over just to sit down, she’d wait for the click of the seat-belt and be right back on my lap two seconds later. There is no such thing as “sneaking out” to go to the store. Words such as “CAR”, “STORE” and “TOWN” have to be spelled out or written down. At 65 pounds, Dolce does not fit on my lap. Though uncomfortable and cramped, she is bound and determined to park herself between the console and the passenger door with me sitting underneath. There are times when I purposely sit in the back seat, allowing Dolce full acreage on the front seat.
Full grown at 98 pounds, Dolce still wants to sit with me – scratch that – on me, in the passenger seat. Head scrunched down, rear end sitting on the arm rest, paws dangling down to the floor board, drivers passing us look with open mouth awe as they look through into the front window and see the sight. A 100 pound lap dog as happy as can be.