Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Wild Wild West or Nightmare on Highway 10

Pip and I made it to San Antonio on Sunday, as planned. Prissy made it here too. Barely. She would not have, if not for divine intervention. i.e., She would not have made it if my uncle had not married VM, who happens to be a goddess.

What happened? Well, for one thing, doggie Xanax does NOT work. At least it doesn't for Prissy. I gave her one, as the vet instructed, about an hour before we left the house. Prissy's carrier wouldn't fit in my car, so I made her what I thought was a nice secure-feeling nest in the back seat. I wedged her bed, which is a sheepskin covered foam thing, into the space between the two front seats to keep her from jumping on me while I was driving, and then we left.

Prissy melted down. I don't mean this in the sense of getting a little upset; I mean she went f#$% crazy. She bounced all over the backseat of the car, all the while making this horrible sort of keening sound. After about 15 miles, I stopped and gave her another Xanax. The first one clearly wasn't working, and she was completely hysterical. We started off again, with me telling myself that the second Xanax would help and that surely she'd get used to being in the car and calm down.

I was wrong. By the time we caught up with the last remnants of Seattle rush-hour traffic, Prissy's keening was so loud that I couldn't even hear the stereo. And then she started lunging. Prissy isn't a big dog -- she only weighs about 22 pounds -- but she's muscular and strong, and that, combined with being hysterical, allowed her to knock down the foam bed barrier I had put between the seats.

If the thought of wrestling with a hysterical yelping pug while navigating through bumper to bumper traffic going 60+ miles per hour doesn't make you nervous, then your disposition is much steadier than mine. Of course there was nowhere to stop; we were on an expressway filled with people trying to get to work. Talking to her didn't work. Yelling at her didn't work. Pushing her back with my elbow didn't work. I slung my right arm across the gap in the seats and held on for dear life. It was pretty grim.

I finally made it to the exit for the road heading east. At that point, I was still hopeful that once we were out of heavy traffic (and noise), the Xanax would kick in and she would settle down. It was not to be. I wrestled with her across Snoqualmie Pass, and ultimately, all the way to Boise. In more than 8 hours of driving, Prissy never stopped lunging and keening for more than 15 minutes. By the time we got to VM's house, I was on the verge of tears. I was also on the verge of wringing Prissy's neck with my bare hands.

Still, I was hopeful that she'd calm down once we got out of the car at VM's house. When we did that, it wasn't hot, so I put Prissy in the garage, along with her bed and a chew-toy in hopes that some quiet time outside of the car would help her calm down. Nothing doing. She keened and bounced off the walls the entire night. Neither VM nor I got any sleep. By this time, I had about decided that something was so terribly wrong with Prissy that she'd never be all right again. I was on the verge of taking to a local vet and asking him to put her down.

I called DH and told him this and he convinced me not to do it ... yet. We decided that the best plan was to find her a carrier that would fit in my car before I left Boise, so at least her lunging wouldn't cause an accident. After that, I planned to give her one more day. If she hadn't calmed down somewhat by my next stop, then I intended to take her to a vet to see if there was anything they could do to help her ... or it would be the end of Prissy's line.

I should note that while I don't adore Prissy, I am a dog person, and the only reason I would even consider this is because I was desperate. And because Prissy was so freaked out, I was afraid that she was permanently broken. DH said later that he tried to convince me not to do anything drastic because he knew that I'd feel like crap later, and that I'd probably never stop kicking myself. And, of course, he was right.

VM was awesome in all of this. She was calm. She was patient. She was tolerant about the fact that a hysterical keening dog was bouncing off the walls of her garage all night long, preventing her from getting any sleep whatsoever. I know VM didn't get any sleep because I was standing out on the patio with Prissy at 1:30 in the morning and VM came out there and hung around with me. The next morning VM helped me find a place that had carriers in stock and she went with me to get one. She also made an awesome coffee cake for breakfast! (And margaritas the night before, which I truly needed...)

Once we got on the road again, Prissy continued being hysterical for a few hours. But just when I thought I was going to have to look for a vet at our next stop, Ely, Nevada, the gaps between her bouts of keening started to get longer. Gradually, gradually, she settled down. When we stopped for the night, I was ready to give her a chance until the next day. She was hysterical in the hotel for a while, but then she settled down there too. And so, Prissy survived.

We spent the night after Ely with my friends in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I wish I could have stayed there longer. My friends have a beautiful house and I would love to see more of that area -- it's an amazing-looking place. But we needed to get to Texas, so there was no lingering.

In addition to Boise, Ely, and Lake Havasu City, we also spent a night in Lordsburg, New Mexico and Ft. Stockton, Texas. Pip was an angel the whole time. He never made a squeak in the car.

This drive was definitely up there with the most difficult things I've done in my life, and I was too distracted to appreciate the scenery, but the American West is stunning. I've seen parts of it before, but I've never driven on the smaller roads that I used this time. The smaller roads allow you to see more than just the highway -- you really feel like you're THERE.

I hope to see more of the West someday, without a crazy dog in tow. Speaking of towing -- I think it would be a good idea to institute a law whereby people driving ginormous recreational vehicles that are towing massive trucks, boats, and other vehicles behind them, should be required to submit to a mental status test every 100 miles or so. I can understand why you'd want to tow a car or a boat behind an RV; those things are too big to drive around once you get to your destination, so you'd want to park it and use the smaller vehicle (or ride around in your boat). What I can't understand is why so many of the people who do this appear to believe they're cruising in a Maserati!

Heelllooo, people. You cannot make lightning-quick lane changes going uphill in a 40-foot land-yacht while dragging a Suburban behind you. As far as I'm concerned, attempting to do this puts you in the same category as Prissy, and you need your head examined!@

6 comments:

JB said...

Wow! I can not imagine. That must have been terrible. At least with kids you can belt them in. Wonder if she had some weird reaction to the Xanax. Next time just get her drunk! (The cat calming stuff we gave Spooky on our last move was mostly alcohol.) Hopefully, for you and DH, there won't be a next time.

gillpolack said...

I am *so* glad you made it to SA. I'm so glad Prissie calmed down. I'm so glad for V and for margaritas.

I'm glad about lots of things, but mostly glad that particular nightmare's over and you can get on with finishing the move. (I'm up early waiting for that stove delivery - in two weeks both our interesting times may well be in the past.)

Paula said...

I've lost your email address somehow or another - but wanted to let you know that Aunt Jean is in intensive care.

Glad you made it to Texas - hopefully you'll be coming to Tull sometime before too long.

Sherry said...

I think I would have taken a Xanax myself!!!!!

Taminator said...

OMG, I cannot imagine how awful this must've been. I know you were desperate to consider putting Prissy down...you probably showed more restraint than I would have. I'm so glad you arrived safely and relatively sanely and thank God for VM!

Tess said...

Oh my - that sounds like quite the drive. I thought two hours in a car with a keening cat was bad enough, let alone a lunging,keening dog in for 8 hours! Glad BOTH you and Prissy survived. And VM does sound like an angel.