Our story begins long before dawn on Saturday, January 24th. In the pre-dawn darkness, I herded the dogs outside to do what dogs do while I finished packing the truck for the 13 hour drive to Maryland. With the truck packed and the dogs seemingly relieved, we set out on schedule from West Tennessee at 5:00 AM. Traffic was light and I was making great time. Barely an hour into the drive, I got my first indication that all systems were not go… an unusual gurgling noise from the general vicinity of Maggie, who was riding shotgun for the trip. I didn’t think much of it and assumed that it was her stomach protesting the lack of breakfast. No need tempting the fates of carsickness before a long drive, right? Right.
Now, I should pause here to point out that Winston absolutely must travel in his kennel. He’s all nerves, shedding, and slobber when he doesn’t have that security. Since he’s been riding in a kennel since just after he came home, I wanted to make sure that Maggie was a little more acclimated to riding commando on those long trips. Quite frankly a cage big enough for her inside the cab of the truck is simply out of the question, so I covered the passenger seat with an old sheet and we should have been good to go. Of course this wasn’t destined to be a normal day.
By this point we’re an hour and a half into the drive, darkness is still heavy on the face of the firmament and that’s when I hear the unmistakable sound of a dog about to heave. Having had most of a cup of coffee, I had the good sense to get on the brake and start wheeling towards the shoulder so I could face whatever was coming at a much lower rate of speed and with most of my attention. I heard the splash and almost simultaneously was hit broadside by the most disturbing, pungent aroma that I’d ever personally experienced. That’s right… Liquefied, partially digested, dog poo projectile vomit. Without even the benefit of light, I knew what had happened… but nothing prepares you for the first awful moment of light in a world gone mad. My sweet, darling lab had tossed on the seat, on the dash, and across the center console. My initial thought was an overwhelming need to clean… which was followed in short order by the overwhelming need to keep myself from blowing chunks all over the other side of the truck.
With all the fortitude I could muster, I set about the task of cleaning as best I could. The sheet had saved the seat, Armor All had mostly saved the dash, but the center console took the worst of it… The cup holders and ashtray full to the brim with brown gleaming liquid; every crease, every joint, every nook its own special disaster. It’s only when I got to the bottom of the second cup holder that I realized that my Bluetooth headset, the finely tuned, military grade, $120 piece of hardware that it is had been at the bottom of this devil’s brew. With some intense cleaning, it would probably work again… but I don’t have the fortitude to put it in my ear knowing the horrors it’s been through. With the truck cleaned as best I could with the roll of paper towels and some generic spray cleaner I’ve always carried under the back seat, we managed to get back on the road after about thirty minutes. That’s pretty good time considering how often I had to stick my head out the window to keep my own gagging from becoming something much worse.
Thinking to myself, we’re back on track, things will be fine now. I was just outside of Nashville now and again making good time. I began to allow myself to hope again and this was apparently my second mistake of the day… and just seconds before the next shower of feces-filled vomit was deposited, this time on the passenger side floor mat. Thanks be to God for the heavy duty rubberized type that can be sprayed off. By this point, I was out of paper towels, out of cleaner, and basically out of options… It was go/no go for the rest of the drive. I could turn back three hours into the trip, regroup, recover, and reset for another try on Sunday or I could press on in the hopes that there couldn’t possibly be more left where the first two rounds had been. I rolled the dice and got lucky this time.
The rest of the drive was an uneventful trip along the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System… Except for the windows being down in the bitter cold of a Tennessee morning. And the smell; that terrible smell that I fear I’ll never forget.