When I brought Willie Nelson home for the first time, he rode in a basket lined with a soft towel. He whimpered, like puppies do, until I put my hand in the basket to comfort him. Then he settled in and fell asleep, leaving me, for the thirty minute drive home, to imagine all the future road trips we’d take together. We’d go to the park. We’d go to PetCo. We’d go to my dad’s house in the country. Maybe we’d even take him on vacation with us to Colorado this summer.
GinnySue used to love riding in the car with me. She’s never been a stick-your-head-out-the-window kind of dog; she’s always been content to curl up shot-gun style and fall asleep. Now, in her old age, she doesn’t get excited about car rides anymore. Getting into the car is just too hard, and getting out is worse. It’s too difficult for her to keep her feet beneath her, and she usually ends up in a sprawl on the ground looking up at me like What The Hell Just Happened?
So when we brought Willie Nelson home, it was with high hopes that I’d have a new travel buddy – someone who would, on nice days, run errands with me and Took. Someone I could take on long country drives when I was needing a bit of inspiration. Someone that wagged his tail to the tune of On the Road Again, because, after all, his namesake made that song famous.
It was not to be.
The first time Willie Nelson puked in my car, he aimed right for my diaper bag. Disgusting, but an easy clean. The diaper bag found its resting place in a Dillon’s trash can. I thought perhaps his stomach unrest was a fluke. Maybe his food hadn’t settled right; maybe he’d needed to go potty again and I just didn’t give him the chance.
The second time, third time, fourth time, and fifth time he puked in my car all happened in the same day. Let me lay it out for you.
My sister called and wanted to meet up to let the kids play. The weather wasn’t warm enough for the park, so we agreed to meet at a McDonald’s that was central to both of our locations where there was play equipment. Seemed like the perfect time to take Willie Nelson for a test run; and just to add a little comfort for him, I brought GinnySue along, too. (Picture Myndi heaving her eighty pound geriatric Golden Retriever into the Mommy Rocket. It wasn’t graceful or pretty, but we got the job done. Once in the car, however, Ginny looked at me with her ancient soulful eyes and seemed to say Beloved Human, you know this can’t end well. I brushed it off. Ginny is sweet, but she’s become a pessimist in her old age. In retrospect, this was a mistake on my part. GinnySue is a sage.)
With Took buckled in the back and occupied with books, and both dogs riding shotgun (Willie Nelson decided the view was fantastic perched upon Ginny’s back. She didn’t mind; she was asleep before we backed out of the garage), we took off toward McDonald’s.
At first I was nervously watching Willie Nelson for any signs of impending puke. He seemed fine. He liked watching our neighborhood pass by. He was sniffing at the vent, letting his Beagle nose enjoy the new smells that were coming at him. By the time I hit the highway, I was relaxed, sure in my previous assumption that that last puke had been a fluke.
And then the sound came. You know the one I’m talking about. Nnngulp, nnngulp, nnngulp. I glanced at my little Jack-a-Bee. His neck was stretching out in time with the nnngulp, nnngulp sound, back and forth, back and forth, and I knew time was short. Somehow I managed to get him off GinnySue’s back without flipping the MommyRocket and ending our lives in a fiery crash. The moment his paws hit the floor, he puked between the seats, narrowly missing my yoga mat. Namaste and thank you, Willie Nelson.
We made it to McD’s, with poor Willie Nelson shivering and looking ashamed, and GinnySue gazing up at me: I told you so. Thankfully my sister had already arrived. I dumped Took off with her and ran to the bathroom to grab paper towels to clean up the mess…
…only to find that this particular McD’s is green. Hand dryer’s aplenty, but no paper towels to be seen.
Mother. Of. Freaking. Pearl.
So, I jogged to the drink bar in search of napkins which, thankfully, they had. HOWEVER, their napkins only dispensed one at a time. I tried cramming my fingers in to grab several at once; it was a humiliating endeavor. People stared while my fingers became trapped inside the dispenser. I tried to act cool about it (What? I get my fingers trapped in napkin dispensers ALL THE TIME. I was getting my fingers trapped in napkin dispensers before napkin dispensers only dispensed one napkin at a time, namaste and thank you, beeatch! *pushes hipster glasses up nose and hikes up way too skinny skinny jeans*), but cool is something I’ve never done well. I’m pretty sure I came off more Crazy Woman On Aisle Twelve! than Trendy Mom Wins Battle With Single Napkin Dispenser.
With much grunting and inward swearing (the inward part a remarkable feat) I managed to extract about five napkins. It would have to do since the line behind me had grown to a similar length as the Great Freaking Wall of China. I’m pretty sure you could have seen it from space. I ran out to the car, praying GinnySue hadn’t decided to do the worst while I was gone and eat the puke (she’s very fond of Willie Nelson’s Magical Poo-Treats and I figured Willie Nelson’s Magical Puke-Treats couldn’t be far behind). I was in luck!
[Editorial pause here: This is a very good indicator for where a person is in his or her life. If the only requirements you have for feeling lucky are that your dog didn't just eat the puke that your other dog just made, then it's safe to say you are experiencing a low point.]
I was in luck! The puke was still there, hot and fresh and adding to that already distinct We Have A Huge Family smell in my car.
Point of Fact: Five flimsy napkins from a green McDonald’s won’t do JACK CRAP when it comes to cleaning up dog puke in your car. I had to cave and use my yoga towel. It was a sad sacrifice, but it had to be done. By some secondary stroke of luck I had a bottle of Febreeze in the car which I used in its entirety, and a large Starbucks bag that I stashed my yoga towel (all the puke shaken off) and mat in, making sure any and all puke-stains faced AWAY from the mat. I gave the dogs some love, promised we’d be quick, and ran inside.
Once inside, Took flat out refused to play with her cousin. Two year olds are so damn charming.
Now we were headed home. The car smells like We Have A Large Family and A Dog That Pukes and A Febreeze Factory Exploded so the windows are down and I’m breathing through my mouth. Took is dozing in her car seat and I’m not sure if it’s because she’s so tired from refusing to play with her cousin, or if it’s an effect of the noxious gas inside the car. Willie Nelson has climbed into the Starbucks bag (which of course I took a picture of because it was sooooo cute!) and looks unhappy, but there hadn’t been a nnngulp sound in a while, so I decided to do the Hubster a solid and take him lunch. This was a mistake.
Willie Nelson’s ride of shame. This was pre-yoga-mat defilement.
We were pulling out of the Arby’s drive thru when the god-awful nnngulp, nnngulp sound resumed. “No no no no no no no,” I shout, which probably confused the shit out of the poor dog – it’s not like he was being naughty. His lurching ended, and I looked down. My yoga mat had been fully defiled, and poor Willie Nelson, since he was inside a paper bag with the defiled yoga mat, was now covered in his own sick. He looks at me with his puppy eyes, then down at himself, and then something happened that I didn’t know could happen to dogs. He grossed himself out.
Let’s talk about this for a minute. Dogs are awesome. I love dogs, always have, always will. But dogs are sort-of disgusting. Dogs lick their own genitals. Dog lick other dog’s genitals. Dogs eat each other’s poop. Dogs eat their own poop. Dogs think the contents in your bathroom trash are primo chew it/roll in it objects. Dogs think dead things are primo chew it/roll in it objects. And this is just the short list of the ways that dogs are gross. For all their awesomeness, there is no denying this part of dog-hood. Which is why what happened next was such a surprise.
Willie Nelson looked down at himself. He looked at the puke on my (once so pretty and purple) yoga mat. He looked at me. He looked at the puke all over his lovely white fur. He looked at me. And then the sound came again.
Nnngulp. Nnngulp. Nnngulp.
Willie Nelson grossed himself out so much that he puked again.
Thank goodness I’d had the good sense to put the Hubster’s lunch in the far back seat of the car.
Yoga mats are resilient. They’re made to last. Most of them are actually pretty terrible on the environment because they basically don’t biodegrade, like, ever. Which is why I feel so awful about throwing my lovely purple mat away. But even after a good hosing/disinfecting, there would be no possible way I could ever rest in child’s pose without hearing that god-awful sound:
Nnngulp. Nnngulp. Nnngulp.
Nope. No way. Myndi’s Pretty Purple Yoga Mat went to Yoga Mat Heaven…
…and I will never put Willie Nelson through the horror of a car ride again.
Unless it’s to go to the vet.
Oh, that poor, poor dog.