Guaranteed redemption

By Mir
April 6, 2011

I think one of the things I love so much about having a dog is that I always know where I stand with her. Human relationships are complicated, messy things. Good intentions can get lost, overshadowed, and misinterpreted. Apologies can be hard to come by and sometimes even harder to really hear. And a bad day can sabotage years of carefully laid groundwork if you’re not lucky. Humans are HARD.

Dogs, on the other hand, are easy. Dogs have long but extremely forgiving memories. Dogs are all about your intentions RIGHT THIS SECOND and not so much about that unpleasant thing that happened before.

Plus, they’re easily bribed with food. (I guess this is also true of some humans. But not so much in my experience.) Y’all know I love Licorice to furry little bits, but she’s really not all that smart in the grand scheme of things. Smart for a dog? Absolutely. Smart compared to a human? Well, no. I mean, possibly smart compared to a human that likes to roll around in entrails in the woods, sure. But on average… no.

Licorice always forgives me.

No amount of cheerfully proclaiming “Wanna go for a RIDE?” and taking her in the car to any variety of happy locations has broken Licorice of her abject terror when placed in the car. The only time she doesn’t completely flip out is when placed in the truck, in her crate, which she seems to realize means we’re going camping. (Though even then, she’s not exactly excited. She just seems reassured by the fact that we’re ALL there, like maybe if we’re on a death march, at least she gets to do it with her whole pack.) But put her in the car and she shakes, whines, and drools with fright.

It is rather pitiful.

And woe unto me if said drive ends at either the vet’s office or the groomer, because then she casts her baleful glare my way as if to say, “You spent the whole ride telling me everything was okay! IT IS NOT OKAY!”

Guess where we went this morning? Awww, but who doesn’t want to go for a terrifying car ride and then get put inside a giant sink? COME ON!

As the groomer peeled Licorice out of my arms, MAH PRESHUS BAYBEE had her tail tucked under, was still shaking, and her eyes said YOU ARE THE MEANEST PERSON EVER.


But the thing is, when I came back to pick her up? It was all forgotten. I stuck my head into the cage area and called her name, and she was immediately on her feet, tail wagging, nothing but delighted to see me. Once out, she leapt and ran in circles around my feet and leapt again and again. “YOU CAME BACK! YOU LOVE ME! YOU REALLY, REALLY LOVE ME!”

I paid and took her out to the car. She never shakes on the way home; she knows the Bad Part is over and everything’s okay, now. She just sits there, looking around, occasionally leaning over to lick my arm, reassuring me that she knows everything’s good and I would never hurt her.

Or maybe she just knows there’s a new squeaky toy in it for her when we get home. Whatever. I appreciate that despite the fact that she would be perfectly happy to smell like squirrel guts and have puppy-dreadlocks, she endures and doesn’t hold it against me.

I may refer to her as “twelve pounds of terror,” but the truth is that I think of her as twelve pounds of grace.


  1. Shannon

    So cute! But please spread the word – dogs (especially small dogs) should always ride in the back seat for safety just like kids. An air bag deployment is often fatal for a dog enjoying their ride. :(

  2. Foodie

    What a sweet story! And please tell me that someone didn’t just lecture you on doggie car safety. Please. Because that would be really effin’ annoying if someone did that.

    Love little Licorice. Love doggies, and I love love. I even love the dweeb who lectured you. LOVE FOR ALL! <3

  3. Lisa

    OMG! It makes me mad and a little sad that the whole point of the story is missed by someone lecturing you on doggie car safety!!! Is there anything you can do without getting lectured about how you are doing it wrong? SERIOUSLY?!
    The internet is a strange neighborhood…
    PS Mir…YOU ROCK!

  4. Liz

    Awwwww, licorice looks totally edible :)

  5. Rachel

    And, all morning, I was wondering what could make me feel better about the chaos of human interactions I find myself in. Now, I find the simple answer. A dog. :)

  6. Angela

    Adorable, Mir! This post *almost* makes me want a dog. :-)

  7. Stephanie

    We should all be so gracious…there is something beautiful about such an uncomplicated love.

  8. Nelson's Mama

    Nel rides perched on the center console – I believe both airbags would totally miss him ;-)

    Have you tried just walking her out to the car and putting her in without talking to her? Your “reassuring” voice is actually probably feeding her nervousness, just be calm and quiet, like you know exactly what you are doing and she may do much better.

    There is nothing like the love of a dog…

  9. Heidi

    Must be Puppy Love Wednesday!

  10. Ariel

    Since I’ve been so hugely big this pregnancy our pupper has been having to sleep in his kennel at night. He gets loves and pets, and then I put him to bed, so that I can get some sleep, because he MUST SLEEP ON ME, and I can’t move right now as it is! But Brian lets him out in the morning and he makes a beeline for the bed, and burrows under for a half hour of snuggles before I get up. He’s probably very sad at night, but you’d never know in the morning. And I love that he still loves me after I’ve broken his little doggy heart.

  11. Mama Bear

    The puppy loves you, but I know who loves you even more: your kids! Even though there are times it doesn’t appear that way, they do! Take heart, chin up.

  12. Nancy

    She is so stinkin cute!

  13. dad

    I love this post. I love the picture of Licorice even though it clearly shows she will be more kempt than me.
    Of course I loved yesterdays post too. It’s hard to believe they were both written by the same author in a span of 24 hours.

    You are amazing and amusing, and everyone should want a dog (they’re so much less taxing than children).

  14. karenp

    So cute! My beagle loved riding in the car because it almost always meant going for a walk around Greenlake. However, he always seemed to know when you were going to give him a bath and wouldn’t come into the bathroom without being dragged in. He hated water, wouldn’t even walk through a puddle.

  15. Angela

    Aww, I WUV the puppy-face! And the sweet bandeezy. Isn’t is amazing how expressive their eyes can be? “Balefule glare” totally describes it, my poodle does that to me sometimes, like when I’m trying to give her a bath. But like you said, as soon as the bath’s over, WOOOHOOO! She’s so happy! And RUNNING! Excitedly, with feet going in all directions. Nothing cracks me up like my puppy girl! Also, nothing else tries desperately to lick my tears away when I’m sad :-) Probably a good thing, eh?

  16. Scottsdale Girl

    D’awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. So adorable. *sigh* I do love the dogs… dearly.

  17. Debbi

    Way too cute!! :-) And I love the love you get from a dog, they never judge you, never hold grudges, etc. They rock!

  18. mom101

    I’m so happy for you two.

  19. elz

    Who’s a pretty widdle doggie?! So cute. I loved the camping description. If I’m going down, we’re all going down, that makes it ok.

  20. Birchsprite

    She is adorable. You are a fab owner. The first commenter should really chill out and just let it go!

  21. The Mommy Therapy

    There is nothing like that love of a dog.

    I love my little rescued terrier mutt, Indiana. He’s always good to me, even when I feel the kids are all conspiring against me he doesn’t show a sign of turning to their side.

    Licorise really does make me want to get a smaller dog though. Too cute….espcially all clean!

  22. Anna Marie

    Mir, you are an AWESOME dog mom. I have to admit that I did initially read “placed in the truck in her crate” as “placed in the trunk in her crate” and I thought to myself, perhaps that is what the criticism was about…

  23. Shannon

    “foodie” – so sorry you’re annoyed by safety. Seriously? Get a grip on the lecture accusations.

  24. Tracy

    I just love that dog!

  25. Alison

    I’m pretty sure that’s a pink Dawgs leash she’s sporting. My daughter approves.

  26. Katie


  27. navhelowife

    My two puppies, hound/boxer mixes, hate the car. Ugh. But they are totally forgiving and are always happy to see me. Unless one has something they aren’t supposed to have and they are hiding behind the other one.
    They have to ride in the way back of the car, otherwise I think they would try to sit on my lap.

  28. MomCat

    I love your Dad’s use of the word “kempt.” I thought I was the only one who had that in my repertoire. Heh.

    Love the forgiveness and total acceptance of dogs. They are here so we can feel good about ourselves, and cats are here so we can get our egos knocked down a notch or two. (I say that even though I own very affectionate cats…sorry…am owned by very affectionate cats.)

  29. Foodie

    Not annoyed by safety. Annoyed by poor timing. Love! :)

  30. AC

    My dog is a nervous (ahem) pooper. So the whining, shivering, and pitful glances is also accompanied by a single, lonely piece of poop. Every freakin’ time.

    So sometimes I’m gleefully saying “That’s why you’re going to the groomer” in my head. But all is forgiven, by both, upon pickup!

  31. Tenessa

    I LOVE dogs! When they belong to other people which is less like kids. Other people’s kids are more apt to get on my last nerve.

    I can doggie sit and love that doggie for the whole day or week or whatever and be perfectly glad to return that doggie to his/her owner at the end of the allotted time. I’ll make a good doggie grandparent. Enjoy all the fun and return them when I’m done.

    I am a devout cat-person. I prefer them and love them and they are mine, but you are not wrong about the doggies. They will love you and forget the horrible, rotten thing you did, like get them groomed, immediately! Cats will hold grudges (my cats don’t hold them for long, see above statement, but still) and they are pretty ok if you just ignore them so long as there’s food.

  32. Ann from St. Peter MN

    I once owned a Golden Retriever that was a rescue – so I knew very little about his history. I didn’t know how he would do in a car, and I didn’t always want him to associate the car ride with the vet’s office. So – Murphy and I would go for jaunts around town to get him used to riding in the back seat. Once we went to a drive through burger joint. Clearly, the dog knew what that was all about, because he very nearly went thru my open window into their drive in window. Obviously, someone had taken him out for burgers before! I miss that dog!

  33. Heather

    D’awwww. 12 pounds of grace <3 I like it muchly.

  34. Jeanie

    My shih tzu is the exact same way. She seems to know when we’re going in the car. As soon as I pick her up, she curls into a little ball and starts shaking all the way to our destination. And, like Licorice, she’s fine on the way home. As a side note, I had to read three times the sentence where Licorice is fine when you put her in her crate in the truck. I kept reading it as TRUNK!

  35. Karate Mom

    What a pretty girl!! Dogs rock!
    We had a toy poodle who would pant death breath all over the car on rides anywhere and HAD to sit on a lap. We actually would sedate him a little when we took him on long car rides (like, to Memphis from Tulsa!) That was one of many reasons we called him Little Freaky Man.
    Our toy poodle NOW will ride anywhere with no problem, and will often head to the back seat to chill out and sleep on one of The Kids laps. Makes the ride MUCH better!

  36. Jaxx

    Oh. My. God. That is one adorable dog. I don’t have a dog because walks would entail carrying plastic bags and a scooper but I would take that sweet eyed dog and happily scoop up poop on walks. And yes, as the poster above me said: Cats hold grudges. They do not forgive until they are good and ready. You don’t own a cat. You serve a cat.

    But taking a cat into your car? They freak out! Race around looking for the way out and then crawl under the seat and howl. It’s a nightmare unless you close them up in a carrier. Even then, the howling! Cats and cars = Very Bad Time for all concerned.

  37. Gillian

    So cute! Love the Pups!

  38. Cele

    You say car to Arlo and you best not be standing in between him and the door that leads to the car. All I can say is 93 pounds of happy feet and quarts of slobber.

  39. Jennifer Hamilton

    That is the cutest dog ever! Sometimes I wonder if my children are missing out on something because we don’t have a family pet. After seeing this photo, I am reminded that we are missing out. Yes, animals are wonderful and provide lots of emotional support, but I still don’t think we are ready for one.

  40. Elena

    I would like to trade in my possibly but probably not anymore future MIL for Licorice, please….thank you….

  41. Aimee

    Aw, Licorice looks so PRETTY!

  42. Sheila

    That is one well-groomed pup. Dogs rock.

  43. Laura

    We now practice dog-speak at our house. No more saying the word bath, it’s a tub-scrub. Haircut? Beauty Buzz. It’s hard to believe our tiny little dog’s feelings are evident enough that we have changed the way we speak when she is around.

  44. mamaspeak

    My pooch, Merit, was terrified of the car when I first got her. I worked in a place w/a dog policy, which meant you could bring your dog to work with you, which I did. (Aside: my department loved her so much, we had business cards made up for her; Director of Dog Services.) At first, she would whine & shake and such. After a while, she decided a car ride was the BEST THING EVER! I’m a SAHM now, so car rides to work are a thing of the past. I still try to take her with me a couple times a week, even if it’s just a quick ride to drop kids off, or pick up something quick from the grocery store. I don’t want her only car rides to be to the vet. She still loves them. And if you open the car door when she’s around she’ll jump in & lay right down. Makes me happy.

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