My Story: The Car Curse

A rescued Greyhound learns his destination is a safe and happy life.

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That was the question my beloved rescued Greyhound, Nicky, forced me to confront. The problem hit me the moment my wife, Jean, and I drove to Nicky’s foster home to pick him up for permanent adoption.

We discovered right away that Nicky was deathly afraid of cars. A mishap during his three-year career on the racetrack might have sparked his terror. More likely, he somehow suffered a trauma at the home where he had spent an unhappy year before being returned by his first adopter.

In any case, when we went to pick him up, he panicked as soon as he came close to the car. He dug his heels and refused to jump into the back of the SUV. His foster mother, Beth Brady, is a gallant lady. “He has known me for two weeks, and he doesn’t know you at all,” she said. “Let me try to lift him, and maybe he won’t bite.”

It wasn’t a good beginning. Nicky, a big, macho Greyhound, was nearly 80 pounds of muscle, and was a natural athlete. But finally, with him fighting all the way, with Beth’s arms around his mighty chest and me pushing from behind, we managed to lift him into the car.

Once we got Nicky home, he proved a loving and lovable dog. He quickly bonded with us and made friends with our other rescued Greyhound, Tara.

But cars were his nightmare. We never took Nicky anywhere we didn’t absolutely have to. The big problem was getting to the vet’s office. Eventually, I discovered that wrestling his struggling body up through the SUV’s side door was slightly less difficult than hoisting him into the rear. But it was fight, fight, fight.

That’s not all. During our first trip and every drive afterward, Nicky became violently sick to his stomach. Thus, the chicken-or-the-egg question: Did the fact that he knew he would get sick make him desperate to avoid the trip? Or did an incident in the past unnerve him psychologically so that he became physically sick after being forced into a car?

Jean and I still don’t know. But one day Jean had an idea. The trips up to that point had been just to the vet – no fun at all. “Instead,” said Jean, “let’s take him somewhere he’ll enjoy.”

So we did. Every Sunday we got into the car with Nicky and Tara and drove to nearby parks with hiking trails. Almost at once, Nicky began enjoying the trips. After the second outing, he would leap into the back of the car, vying with Tara to see who could get there first. Best of all, his carsickness stopped completely.

We never solved the riddle of the chicken or the egg, but Jean and I don’t care. We’re happy travelers now, and Nicky loves to see the world.

What's Your Story? Dog World would love to hear about you and your dog. If you believe you have a unique story about your working dog, performance dog, show dog or companion dog, please e-mail it (500-word maximum) to letters@dogworld.com, or send a letter to: Dog World/My Story, P.O. Box 6050, Mission Viejo, CA, 92690.


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