Ollie’s Car

This post contains some ‘translations’, for the benefit of American readers.

Before moving to Norfolk, I had a conventional medium-sized car, a Vauxhall Astra (General Motors), that was good enough for everyday use. When Julie had moved here, a few months before I could come, we had bought a car for her, a small runabout, with low mileage, and perfect for her six miles a day round trip to and from work, a Peugeot 206. As we would both be living in the country, we considered changing my car for a 4×4, to allow for worse weather, and country conditions. Unfortunately, a suitable four-wheel drive car proved to be too expensive a proposition, and for a while, I kept my hatchback.

When we decided to get a dog, we thought it best to change the car, for something better suited to carrying our canine companion. He was happy enough sitting in the old car when he was small, but we knew that he would soon be bigger, and planned ahead. I bought a bigger car, a Vauxhall Zafira. (General Motors) They are known here as an MPV (Multi-purpose vehicle), and in the US, they are referred to, for some reason, as Vans. It is just a fairly big car, with a large boot (trunk) and the facility to raise two small extra seats, to seat seven, if the need arises. As an old-fashioned sort of person, I just call it ‘a car’. This seemed to be the sort of car that would suit us well. It has an automatic gearbox, with six seamlessly stepped speeds, and a 1.9 litre, turbo-diesel engine, that gives a lot of power, but good economy. I have tired of changing gear in a manual car, (stick-shift), and though I can comfortably drive almost anything, I like to have the relaxation of an automatic gearbox. The model I bought was a ‘sport’ variant, called an SRi. It has alloy wheels, low-profile tyres (tires), and an optional sports gearbox, that lowers the ratios. Add a spoiler on the roof, and some other tweaks, and you get that most pointless of outcomes, a sporty people-carrier! But it was second-hand, so was all that I could get at the time, with the amount of money available.

We got Ollie a bed for the living room, that he uses sometimes, during the day. This has come to be called his ‘day bed’, and this is the one that fits perfectly in the back of the car. For very short trips, we use an old blanket, but over five miles or so, he needs the security and comfort of a padded bed. I considered that as he got older, he might become troublesome in the car. He might want to jump over into the back or front, to be closer to us, as we drove along. So, I put the car into the local dealership, and had a custom-built dog-guard fitted, at the considerable expense of £150. ($250US) That proved to be a complete waste of money. He never once attempted to leave his place in the boot (trunk) or to jump over into the back seat. As soon as he sees the car, he leaps into position, and lays there happily, until we reach our destination. The dog-guard was taken out, and stored in the garage, where it will no doubt remain in perpetuity.

Some dogs are troublesome in cars. They cry, vomit, or generally cause a distraction, trying to get closer to their owners. They want to put their heads out of the window, or whine constantly, until reassured. Some actually refuse to even get into the car, and others have to have a dog-ramp, or ladder contraption, or they won’t attempt to jump in. Not Ollie. He sees the car as a place where we are, and he wants to be in it. He knows that the trip will usually be an adventure, even if he has been disappointed by some short trips to see the Vet. He will be somewhere new and exciting, with fresh smells, new faces, and a change of scene. Primarily, he will still be with us, and not left alone in the house. As a result, he loves the car. He will happily get into anybody’s car, and sit quietly, no matter how long the journey. But it is our car that he really adores. The darkened ‘privacy’ glass means that his journey is never uncomfortably hot, and there is space enough for him to stand up and turn around, if he so desires.

On the move, he rarely disturbs. If we stop for a while, perhaps to re-fuel, or if we are held up by traffic delays, he will suddenly appear, looking out the back window, and checking that we are still in the car. He is not fond of passing traffic, if it is very noisy, and once startled us, by barking loudly at a very loud motorcycle, as it roared past. He has never cried, whined, or declined to get into the car. If we are getting ready to go out, and we mention the word ‘car’, he starts to run around excitedly, skidding on the stone floor of the kitchen. If the door opens, and we say ‘go on then, Ollie’s car’, he sprints to the back of the car on the driveway, and waits for the rear hatch (tailgate) to be lifted. He always chooses the right one, of the two cars parked on the drive, and has never once gone to the smaller car. He knows which one to get in.

It’s Ollie’s car.

 

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6 thoughts on “Ollie’s Car

  1. That was a nice post, Pete. Thanks for the translations, too!

    When I was in high school, a friend of mine in the neighborhood bought, as his first car, a Karmann Ghia. The family dog, a Chihuahua, loved riding on the dashboard (British translation unknown!), his muzzle right up to the windshield (windscreen). Out in the country, where dogs routinely ride in cars, but especially in trucks (whether in the cabin or back in the pickup bed), dogs seem to thrill to the wind in their face (even though they don’t like it when you blow in their face). I used to have an Old English Sheepdog. It was always nervous about going for a ride. As you would suspect, based on your story here, it had to do with previous visits to the veterinarian. He sometimes would bark at passing cars, but usually only when the window was open. There were times when he was well behaved. But, mostly, he was restless. If he knew the trip was not to the vet, he would be terribly restless with anticipation, and he’d basically drive us nuts, sometimes lunging from one side of the car to the other. So he didn’t travel very often….

    By the way, I once coaxed a cat into getting into the car. That was a BIG mistake!

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  2. I think I’ll have to change my car when I get a dog. It’s not really a dog car, but very comfortable for long and short drives as long as they don’t involve rough tracks and pot-holes. She doesn’t much care for those 😉

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