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Ricky and the Wrangler

Ricky Wrangler WheelSunday, April 15 was the big day.  I put the top down on my Jeep, and that’s how it would stay — at least for the next 7 months.  Oh, sure, you can yank it back up in a heavy rainstorm, but I generally don’t bother.  I just suck it up.  That’s why Jeep put those rubber plugs under the carpeting — to let the rain drain out.  Very high-tech.

No sooner did I declare the “official” start of Spring by opening up my Wrangler than I began thinking ahead to my next potential cross-country road trip (see LA/XC — The Sequel, April 3) . . . and the possibility of doing it in my Jeep . . . and the challenges such a “crossing” might present.  The truth is, though, that my vehicle of choice presents me with a few dilemmas a lot closer to home.

Ricky rides with me pretty much wherever I go around town; let’s start from there.  I love traveling in the open Jeep; he loves traveling in the open Jeep.  My friend Susan got me this plush, cozy fake-fur-and-canvas harness created specially for dogs in open cars, but Ricky balked the first time I tried to slip it over him, so that was that.  (Sorry, Susan.)  It now sits in the kitchen closet that’s devoted exclusively to Ricky’s paraphernalia.

Ricky Wrangler head shotBut quite honestly, Ricky trying to bolt from the Wrangler is the least of my worries.  As has been well-documented, the shotgun seat in the car — any car — is Ricky’s favorite spot on the face of the earth, so he’s not likely to voluntarily surrender that position.  And even if he were tempted (squirrel to chase? filthy last bite of a hotdog to gobble?), it’s a pretty steep jump from the Jeep to the ground relative to Ricky’s 15″ height, and he’s shown little inclination toward being a hero.

No, my fear about Ricky and the Jeep is that if I had to leave the car for even the quickest of errands, someone could nab him.

Example:  This morning I stop in at Elvira’s, down at Old Mill Beach, for a coffee.  I ask Niki behind the counter if, as a regular thing, it would be all right if Ricky comes in with me for two minutes while I grab my cup of joe.  Sure, she says, if I carry him while I do it.  Hmmm.  I’m not so sure about holding a 30-pound beagle, who’s straining for the pizza and the pastries and the gyros, while I pour, and stir, and cap . . .  “Then why don’t you leave the dog in the car for two minutes, right outside the deli?” she suggests.  “Nobody’s gonna steal him.”  And she’s right — nobody is gonna steal him.  Unless they do.  And then what do I tell Robby?  I lost your dog ’cause I needed a cup of coffee?

So there it is.  In the “off-season,” not a problem.  Ricky snores blissfully in the front seat, safe and secure while I make my stops at Elvira’s or Walgreens or Barnes & Noble or the UPS store.  But in good weather?  With the top down?

Ideas, anyone?  Click on “Add a comment” below, and hit me with your best shot.  A beautiful 8×10 glossy of Ricky at the wheel of the Wrangler awaits the person with the #1 solution!

Hank Herman