I’ve had dogs in my vehicles nigh upon 20 years, almost longer than a woman has ridden shotgun. 

I got no problem with that since when I stroke a devoted dog’s head, she’ll never bark, “Don’t touch me! I’m still angry.”

But anyone thinking a loving dog isn’t looking for a chance to commandeer your vehicle best re-think. Many remember Trinity, my large and allegedly menacing, ’01 shelter rescue, the most misunderstood dog since Cujo. So traumatized by his year at the shelter, he saw my ’78 F-150 as his sanctuary he’d give his life to keep.

The lovable lug growled and postured at many a gawker venturing too close to his window, but never once did he actually bite anyone. He head-butted a couple touchy-feely interlopers, but who among us hasn’t?

But Trin had a busy nose and a maddening penchant to explore. I got an undeserved DWI 20 years ago, soon after adopting the young stud. I’m slowly and responsibly ascending Doug Blough Hill (still called East Sheridan back then), only 100 yards from home when Trinity began thrashing and squeaking his new toy in my face as I laughingly pushed him away. Oh, it was cute all right, but the trailing officer errantly assumed me incapable of controlling my rig.

I explained all this to the judge, but his cold guilty verdict made me wonder if he’s never even owned a dog. It went right over his head.

Years later, after another unjust loss of privileges, I again approached the apex of that hill – hours past my work permit temporary license when I ran out of gas. As I coasted backward down the snowy hill, I asked myself, “Whatdamuddah? I got gas on my way to that South Fork job; there should be another fifty miles worth?” Needless to say, I was amazed and perplexed.

After leaving the truck and walking my dogs home, settled in wearing nothing but my undergutchies, my nosy, nemesis officer knocked to ask why my truck was abandoned. My driving-while-suspended citation in hand, I deduced Trinity had nudged my dual-tank onto the long-empty spare one. Again the judge seemed oddly unmoved.

Another time on Mountain View, my old Ford suddenly, loudly chirped to an inexplicable skid. Luckily, my instinctual senses were finely honed and I jerked the shifter from reverse back to drive in a lightning-fast maneuver.

And then there was the final offense soon before Trinity’s sad passing. He and main squeeze Trina were waiting as I got out of my truck to talk to Fred Felsheim about his dearly-departed brother Mike’s roof across from City Park. As my truck slowly exited his driveway, our eyes met in a “Huh” moment. My instincts dulled by then, I began running just as my truck neared the center stripe, on path to crash the Mini Golf wall.

Stumbling and awheezing, I caught up and flung the door open, reaching the brake just inches from the curb. Trinity seemed unrattled as usual, but Trina’s eyes were wild with wonderment…

My current, perfect Ginger dog has no such inclinations, but I take no chances. I figure, fool me five times, shame on me.

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