Home > Uncategorized > Car Rides from Hell… or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Never Get a Dog.

Car Rides from Hell… or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Never Get a Dog.

I’m going to miss my brother.  He’s not going to the war or dying or anything drastic like that.  He’s simply getting married… not a game changer but a change enough to take from the me only time I’ve had recently to experience the brotherly bond.  Living 2000+ miles away from my family means that, outside of the occasional telephone call, the only time I have to spend with my brother is the few hours of travel time we share while he shuttles my cheap ass around the 6 states we drive through to visit family for Christmas.  Our relationship is that of legend.  Now that he’ll have a family of his own, I’ve been given a glimpse of the future… a dose of reality that turned what should have been a normal 449 mile, 4 hour drive into a commute of horror and most likely killed our bonding time for the foreseeable future.

There’s something you should know about my brother.  He picks me up from the airport at ungodly hours, he drives me to and from Cincinnati when requested and lets me borrow his car while he’s at work, all without a mention of giving him gas money or one single complaint.  That’s how our relationship rolls.  I’d do the same for him and he’d do the same for a perfect stranger… he’s just better than most people.  So when he picked me up at the airport this past Christmas and told me he was bringing his dogs with him to my sisters house in Charlotte I didn’t say a word, although I was thinking that this was most decidedly a terrible idea.  My brother and his fiancé just got a new puppy.  A beautiful German Shepard puppy they named Lilly.  He was very excited for us to meet and is understandably very proud of his little dog.  His fiancé has a little dog called Aiden… I think it’s a Pomeranian or some variation of the stereotypical little yippy dog you hear comedians complain about.   Their idea was to take their dogs to her parent’s house for Christmas and then drive down to Charlotte to meet the rest of my family on Christmas day, subsequently picking me up in Charlotte to return me to Lexington the following Sunday.  My sister and her family have a dog as well.  A little boxer mix that’s pretty well behaved but three dogs in one house and two on a return car ride back to Lexington gave me some serious pause.  My fears would soon come to a grim reality and change my travel plans for the rest of my days.

To start off, my brother’s dog hates me.  I am usually very good with animals.  Let it not be said that Byron Smith is foe to the animal kingdom.  With the exception of the squirrels, who have had their chance to make amends mind you, I have nothing but love for all of God’s creatures big and small.  We had many many dogs while growing up.  I love them.  But Lilly was not a fan of me.  Maybe it was the beard, maybe it was the residual smell of my cat Ash on me, but for some reason Lilly was very uncomfortable around me from the get go.  Perhaps it’s true what they say about animals having a sort of sixth sense when it comes to impending doom.  I put this aside.  It was almost Christmas after all and I was hoping for a miracle of sorts.

Fast forward to Christmas day.  I’m heading from KY to Charlotte to visit my sister’s family with my mother and stepfather and it’s POURING snow.  A long drive turned into a very long drive and all the while we’re getting phone calls from my brother who is also en route with his fiancé and their furry companions.  My brother is flummoxed because at some point in the trip Lilly has become sick.  She’s throwing up all over the back seat (the back seat I’ll eventually be sitting in mind you) and forcing them to stop every 15 minutes or so for it to spray doggie liquid from it’s orifices.  Rob was not pleased.  He’s got low blood sugar, and that compounded with the sick dog and inclement weather didn’t make him a happy camper.  When they finally got to Charlotte and came inside Lilly proceeded to leak all over the floor and frustrate everyone further.  Aiden is fighting with my sisters dog, there’s barking, pooping, and fur flying everywhere.  My brother in law retreated to God knows where, my mother went to bed, and no one seemed to be in a good mood.  My brother spend most of the night getting up and taking his dog out to be sick and the following day my sister had to take poor Lilly to the vet for some much needed fluids via a doggie IV.

Somewhere along the way the little dog Aiden caught what Lilly had and would prove to be the wild card on the ride home.  We prepared to leave a day or two later.  My brother covered the back seat in towels, his fiancé attempted to keep little Aiden in the front seat with her for the start of the trip but it’s curiosity got the best of it and it joined me and Lilly in the back seat for the trip.  The first hour or so wasn’t too bad.  We were making good time and for the most part, the dogs seemed to be relatively healthy and free of projectile vomiting.  That is, until we hit I25.  The snow storm from the previous two days had left the mountain pass of interstate 25 from Charlotte to Knoxville TN a treacherous one.  The geniuses in the department of transportation must have been thinking to themselves, “Hey, who drives the day after Christmas?” and only managed to have plows scrape one of the two lanes that traverse the already steep and treacherous mountain pass.  The unplowed lane was of course ice by this point, putting my brother on edge once again.  We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the better part of two hours as weary holiday travelers crept along the icy roads, all the while confronted with the definite possibility that at any given moment one of these dogs could explode in a fury of sickness.  It didn’t take too long.

I was sitting in the backseat on the passenger side, Lilly was laying down quietly in the middle and Aiden, who was supposed to be in the floor, was behind my brother.  Aiden, understandably quite curious with the family in the minivan creeping along I25 next to us, stood on the back seat with it’s little paws propped up on the window wagging it’s little tail.  I heard a slight squeak and was immediately confronted with a smell that can only be described as “sin”.  Aiden had sprayed doggie diarrhea all over Lilly while she was staring out the window.  Lilly, clearly as flummoxed by being shit on as any normal living thing would be, immediately jumped up, flipped around in a fury and attempted to make her way into the back of my brother’s Jeep to escape the onslaught of raining poop.  In the process she flung the already precarious projectile diarrhea all over my side in her attempt to flee.  So now we’re crawling with traffic, I’m covered in doggy diarrhea, I haven’t had a cigarette in 4 hours, and we’re officially out of towels and 15 miles away from the only rest area in a 100-mile stretch.  The stench was unbearable, my brother’s poor fiancé was so embarrassed for the situation she’s halfway in the back seat trying to clean everything up, and I’m leaning halfway out the window for olfactory relief.  When we finally made it to the rest stop, I was charged with walking Lilly while my brother attempted to clean up the car.  This dog, knowing full well I was in tennis shoes preceded to pull me through 6 plowed snow banks, effectively soaking my legs from the knees down.  New Balance shoes, although comfortable in every way, apparently have 0 traction in the snow and I felt as if I was water skiing behind this overly energetic German Sheppard puppy with the power of a 6 stroke engine.  When I got back to the car and we proceeded on our way the traffic eventually let up and the animals had calmed down, but the damage was already done.  Our 4 hour drive took in the neighborhood of 7 and my clothes, which I would have to wear to Cincinnati on my second leg, stunk like a doggy whale eye.  My sibling and his fiancé felt terrible but in hindsight probably laugh now about the time I was assaulted by canine fecal matter on what is sure to be the very last time I ride in any sort of motor vehicle with an animal.  For their wedding gift, I’m giving them a luxurious weekend reservation at Lexington’s premier Doggy Hotel… good only for the week before and after Christmas.  You’re welcome everyone.

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