At the risk of thrusting this blog into controversy so early in it's life, I've decided I'm taking a stand. I'm going to go out on a limb and state, "Dogs should not drive!"
I know, I know, "animal rights" and all of that. So, I'm sure you are wondering how I came to this rather astounding conclusion. Well, I'll tell ya'.
It all started in the morning rush hour on Monday morning. I was peacefully, though reluctantly, driving to work on I-55 near Bates. Suddenly, I noticed the car to the left of me and slightly ahead was slowly...very slowly...sliding into my lane. I let off the gas a bit, allowing the car to slip in my lane ahead of me. I'm polite like that.
The car only made it part way into my lane and then slowly...very slowly...headed back into the lane they started out in. I figured someone driving the car was probably a little sleepy on a Monday morning, or on the phone, maybe doing makeup, or possibly even cooking a little breakfast. So I was understandably surprised when I pulled past the car and looked over. No one was driving the car! I should say, no single someone was driving the car. It certainly appeared as though two large dogs, one brown and one black, were driving.
You don't see this every day!
The car slowly swerved into the next lane over on this cars left side. Clearly, these dogs were driving the car. At first, I wasn't clear how the dogs were operating the pedals. I thought perhaps they had outfitted their doggie-car with those special levers that people use when they don't have use of their legs, for whatever reason. I couldn't see any such levers, though. It was then that I realized it was definitely the brown dog that was operating the pedals as this dog was regularly crawling under the steering wheel.
The car sped up. The car slowed down. The car almost merged left, then almost merged right. The dogs even honked the horn once for good measure. I wondered what they were honking at.
This swerving and speeding up and slowing down was going on for a while. I was absolutely positive that these dogs would not pass their test for an operators license of a motor vehicle. They were all over the road! I was determined to pull up next to the car and give those dogs a piece of my mind, like "sit", or "stay." I didn't think "rollover" would be appropriate, "play dead" could have been disastrous and I was definitely not going to use "shake!" I did not think it would be a good idea for that black dog to take it's paws off the steering wheel! The car started swerving towards me again. The brown dog apparently was a bit alarmed by this turn of events, because he/she/it turned to the steering wheel, put his/hers/its paw on the wheel and straightened things out.
I was thinking that perhaps the dogs should switch places and give the brown dog a chance at steering and let the black dog operate the pedals. It seemed like maybe the black dog was overcompensating just how my youngest daughter does when she plays "Mario Kart." The dogs agreed with this assessment, because no sooner did I have this thought when the dogs switched positions. The black dog climbed down to the pedals and the brown dog took its place at the wheel. Maybe they were mind-reading driving dogs. There was a lot of talent in that car.
It was then that I got my second shock of the morning. There were not just two dogs driving this car. There was also a person underneath them! This cast a whole new light on the situation. Since the very large dogs were milling around, I really couldn't even tell if this was a man or a woman. However, I wanted to shout over to them, "HEY! Dogs should not drive!" I was pretty sure of this point.
However, just like in those college ethics classes, where they start out with an obvious situation with an obvious right and wrong answer, on closer examination, things weren't so clear-cut.
A thought occurred to me. What if the black dog / brown dog combination really was the better driver in the car? What if this person had taken a step back from the situation, examined their driving skills and then compared them to the dogs? What if they decided that clearly, the dogs have the better skills? Was I jumping to an early conclusion about this situation? You know, don't judge a book by its cover, don't judge a man (woman) until you've walked in their shoes, etc. etc. I started having doubts about the whole "dogs should not drive" declaration.
I decided to take a more scientific approach to this situation. I decided to watch the dogs, and their apparent passenger, in action for a while. Now I say "passenger" even though the human occupant of the car was in the driver's seat. I say "passenger" because I couldn't see if this person was actually controlling the car or not. However, I could see that the brown dog (now steering, try to keep up) clearly had two furry brown paws on the steering wheel at the 11:00 and 2:00 positions. Not bad. Also, it was clear that when the brown dog pushed the steering wheel, the car went in that direction. On a number of occasions, the human was actually looking in a completely different direction. The dog was in control.
There have been an unusual number of stories in the news recently of drunk parents having their young children drive them home. Their excuse to the police has always been, "I didn't want to drive while I was drunk!" These are cases where the "responsible" adult has decided that clearly, drunk driving is bad. It would be better that the kid should drive. Maybe the human in the doggie car was drunk! It was very early, though, and it seemed very unlikely. I could not possibly guess at the motive here. It was completely clear that this person could not possibly have control of the car, or even see where they were going. Frequently, the dogs were standing right in the person's face! There wasn't any way this person was driving.
Then an interesting thing happened. The dogs started barking at each other. Not at anyone outside the car (this was a highway, after-all) but clearly at each other. It seemed there was some kind of doggie disagreement. The brown dog then started to look out the driver's side window and barking in that direction, the black dog put it's paws on the dashboard over the steering wheel, pushing "brownie" over towards the window and barked straight ahead. There was a little nipping at each other and then the black dog regained control of the car. I've seen "Lassie" enough to know that the brown dog wanted to turn left, while the black dog thought the present course was best. Duh!
Other drivers were starting to give the doggie-car a wide berth. Changing drivers, even talented doggie-drivers, while driving rarely contributes to good driving! The human passenger didn't seem to pay a bit of attention to the swerving or the doggie-argument. Apparently, this was normal. The brown dog pushed its way past the black dog, who was now sitting in the human's lap behind the wheel (with it's head nearly touching the ceiling) and looked at me in a beseeching way. I yelled over to the dog, "Don't drag me into it! Work this problem out yourself" Geeze. Dogs are always wanting you to pick sides in an argument.
Well, "brownie" took my advice. Good doggie.
It leapt across the car, basically tackling the black dog. The black dog jumped down to the pedal area and the brown dog jumped up on the steering wheel with its front paws and turned sharply to the left, crossing three lanes of traffic while the black dog wildly accelerated, cutting off several cars and taking the westbound 44 exit.
Stupid doggie drivers. That was some dangerous driving! How bad could the human have been if this was how the dog team drove? Still, I was having my doubts about having doubts about my original declaration on dog drivers. I thought about calling the police and informing them of what I had seen. However, I thought there was a pretty good chance that before my story was over, the doggie-car would be long gone. Plus I wouldn't even get to see the cops pull over the doggie-car and try to slap some cuffs on those furballs. What was the point of calling now?
Anyway, I was certain. Dogs should not drive.