It is a highlight of his day.
And who am I to deny him that joy?
I just got back from taking my black Labrador, Zeke, for a ride.
It used to be that I would ask him if he wanted to go for one.
Now, if he sees me putting on my shoes, he just assumes he gets to go for a ride too, even if it doesn’t.
Taking Zeke along for a ride has become less stressful in some ways, since my nephew cleaned out my car for me, which I am ashamed to admit was full of papers, straw wrappers, receipts, compact disc cases and whatnot cast aside as I moved about from one assignment to another in my former life as a reporter.
That kind of environment was a dog’s delight as he freely moved about the cabin, digging for tossed aside treasures. I am glad to say now, since I am much more conscious of my car’s neatness, that Zeke has learned to sit still (mostly) in the back seat with his head hanging out the window, since there is really nothing else to keep him occupied (except for the snow brush/scraper he sometimes likes to chew on).
I mentioned that rides with Zeke are less stressful now.
Well, not always.
Just ask the poor people who work drive-thru at McDonalds and Burger King, where I foolishly take him to get him a plain hamburger, and myself something to drink.
As soon as Zeke realizes we are pulling up to order, he starts barking in the back seat, making the person on the other end of the speaker ask me to repeat my order. But that is only the beginning.
By the time we get to the window to pay or get our order, he has jumped into the front seat, climbed across my lap and sometimes even tried to make his way through the drive thru window to “help” out.
Usually I put my car into park, and use both arms to push him back. At this point, my one and only mission is to get the hamburger from the drive thru crew into the dog’s mouth, so my drink won’t be the next casualty.
It is a nightmare to go at this alone.
And yet I still do it.
Everyone else in my family who has gone along for one of these rides has learned their lesson, and adamantly refuse to put themselves through it again.
I’m sorry to say, at least for Zeke’s sake, that today’s ride did not include a stop at a fast-food drive thru. Even I am beginning to realize it is much more trouble than it is worth. And I don’t especially fancy all the scratch marks over my body I get as he tries to fight his way to one meager hamburger.
In the future, I think it will be easier for both of us if I just pick up a hamburger for him while I am out and about and bring it home to him.
He’ll still get to go for rides, just with no unneeded stops along the way.
Then maybe both of us will be happy.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times’ readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at email@example.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.