Mom, Her Tail’s On My Side

How do you vacation with a dog who snarls and threatens every strange dog or person who walks by?

Take up camping.

A Car Not Made for Camping

Honey the Golden Retriever Comes home in the subaru.

Great car. Can we get chocks so I can reach the pedals?

I’m nothing if not frugal. So when we decided to try camping with our first dogs, Agatha and Christie, I bought used sleeping bags and gear at yard sales.

Why spend money on new stuff before we knew we’d like sleeping in the woods?

The 50-year-old Abercrombie sleeping bag (manufactured before Mr. Abercrombie met Mr. Fitch and started selling thong underwear to toddlers) and lightly used camp stove worked fine.

The car that transported it left much to be desired.

By the time we stuffed the trunk and every available corner of our two-door coup with a week’s camping equipment and food, there was little room left for Agatha and Christie. And Agatha and Christie forced into too small a space had issues. Serious issues.

Things progressed quickly from “Mom, her tail’s on my side” to snarling and gnashing teeth.

Despite the car problems, we loved camping. But we’d buy our next car with camping and dogs in mind.

A Car Made for Camping

Subaru has been running a cute ad campaign: Dog Tested, Dog Approved.™ The idea of dogs driving and shopping for cars is cute but silly. Right?

But as I thought about it, I realized that Agatha and Christie picked our next car.

Honey's Subaru NY Driver's LicenseNo, we didn’t take them to the car lot. And they didn’t have a driver’s license like Honey does. But we decided to buy a Subaru Impreza because it was the most affordable and reliable small car that allowed us to do what was most important to us—travel and have fun with our dogs.

I had to hold back laughter when a financial counseling client told me he bought a big SUV to go camping with his dog and child.

Our tiny Impreza carried a week’s worth of camping gear and food, two kayaks on the roof, two bikes on the hatchback door, two medium-sized dogs, and two adults—with enough room left over to keep those dogs from trying to kill each other.

Our camping dogs would have been happy for us to leave behind the tent, sleeping bags, and camp stove if they could have filled the hatchback with sausages like the Subaru commercial dogs.

But Honey will just have to live through them vicariously.

What Car Would Your Dog Buy?

Do you think it’s ridiculous to think of a dog buying a car? How about buying a house?

I joke with the students in my home buyer classes that I only own a house for my dog. I’d love to rent but it’s too hard to find a landlord who allows dogs, much less one who would allow foster dogs.

But I make big purchases with my dog in mind.

  • I love how my house has windows with low sills that allow even a puppy to look out at the world.
  • My kayak perfectly fits a dog in the cockpit.
  • And my last car, the Impreza, was perfect for camping with dogs, or taking them Christmas tree shopping.
Christmas Tree on top of Subaru.

I love driving home with my hunting trophy on the roof.

So although Agatha and Christie never got to chase squirrels in the Subaru, Shadow didn’t follow a scent with her head hanging out the window while driving, and Honey didn’t get to borrow the car to take herself to the dog park, the car was theirs. It was covered in dog hair and our dogs’ favorite places to spend time with us.

So maybe the idea of dogs buying cars isn’t so crazy after all?

What big purchases have you made that are all about your dog? A house? Car? Something else?

This post is sponsored by Subaru. I am being paid to spread the word about the Dog Tested. Dog Approved.™ campaign, but Something Wagging This Way Comes only shares news about companies and products that meet my advertising and PR guidelines.

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  1. I would love to buy a mini-van…with stow and go seats. That way we would have plenty of room for the collies, and for all our dog show stuff!

    • I’ve heard many people tell me mini vans aren’t “cool.” But they sure are cool to dog lovers: safer, roomy, and not as high off the ground for aging pups.

      I guess if you wanted a smaller car, you’d need to find a deeply-hidden passion for chihuahuas. :)

  2. Jen makes major decisions with us in mind too! And so do alot of other people. And she appreciates that Subaru celebrates that fact.

    • I’ve found it interesting to watch over the years about how social change has been helped along by companies wanting to make more money.

      Although protests and legislation came first, African Americans became more visible in media when companies decided to sell to them. The desire to tap into a new market will push marriage equality along.

      I’m curious to know if marketing to dog lovers will somehow benefit animal welfare. Perhaps if companies start to feature more mixed breed dogs?

      • Your point is debatable. Just how many non-white persons do you see in commercials compared to whites? And how many people on TV are not young and skinny and beautiful in a country where most of us are anything but? I’d rather not have to wait on the business community to decide my value in the world.

        • I’m happy to debate it. :)

          When I was a child in the 70s, all commercials featured white actors unless it was for a show marketed specifically to African Americans (Soul Train, for example).

          I’m not saying companies are taking the lead or doing anything but watching their own bottom line. But, once the ground work has been laid by activists, commercials and media are an important part of leading the rest of the country in a new direction. Not because they’re progressive. But because they’re greedy and want to corner every market they can get.

          You’re right that we’re way behind where we should be. But, as a historian by training, I am always aware of where we’ve been. And marketing has been one piece of creating change (even if not always for the good).

  3. I would love nothing other than my next car to be a tiny super fuel efficent lil’ thing. But alas, with 3 big dogs, I’m stuck in the world of wagons, SUVs and vans.

    My car, too, is completely covered in dog hair. So much so that most of our friends refuse to ride in it with me :) Yup, it’s definitely the dogs’ car!

    • Feel ya on the dog hair thing. When we first bought our car, I tried to keep the seats covered whenever the dogs rode with us. But as soon as we turned on the air vents, fur came blowing out.

      I finally gave up and started covering the seats when people had to ride in the car. It made a lot more sense.

      One good thing about not having a car is that the dog hair blows right off when I’m on my bike. :)

  4. How cute is that first photo and yes, a Subaru would be great to go camping in.

  5. First tent I ever bought was at a neighbor’s yard sale…I liked her…I trusted her…but guess what – the tent leaked first time out :) Kind of learned a lesson there …

    Cars I always buy with dogs in mind…interiors must be durable and most important, easy to clean

    • We borrowed a tent the first time we went camping. And then I bought one new. It was the only equipment I didn’t pick up used.

      I’ve found it a good thing too. I have NEVER camped when it didn’t end up raining.

      If only cars could be as easily cleaned as boats. I just house out my kayak. :)

  6. Kolchak and Felix are front and center with most of our purchases. Everything needs to be dog-friendly. Anything that won’t stand up to the dogged test is just not worth the money. I’m just too darn cheap!

  7. In 2011 I bought a Smart car. I hate leather seats and got them because his hair doesn’t stick and is easy to wipe up. So, yes, BJ is on my mind when I buy things.

  8. When we moved back to Oregon from South Carolina with four cats and a dog, we purchased a Toyota Sienna mini van so they could all fit comfortably. Now, as we consider buying a new car, it is ALWAYS with our dog in mind :) We test drove a Subaru Outback today (we have had one before) but we weren’t quite sold. Cali loves the mini van because of the easy to enter door and the fact that she gets the entire back seat . . we will not be getting rid of it any time soon!

    • One of the great things about mini vans is that they are lower to the ground than an SUV and easier for an aging dog to get in and out of.

      I wonder if Subaru is listening and will come out with a mini van in the future?

  9. When we got up to 4 dogs, we foolishly bought a big SUV, a Pathfinder. Silly us thought we needed all that room. We soon discovered that the dogs were only going to sit directly behind our seats anyway, and all the other space was left empty! So we traded in for a smaller SUV when our lease was up. Then we went to a lower to the ground Toyota Matrix, since the dogs are getting older and we thought it would be easier for them to get in and out. We still have to give them a “boost” anyway. The car is just a bit smaller than we like so we’ll go back to our small SUV (Rav 4) when this lease is up. (we’ll get a ramp for the dogs) Luckily for us we don’t travel a lot so leasing works for us. Eventually we’ll find the vehicle that is “just right”! Thinking leather interior would be better too. So, yes, every vehicle we get is all about the dogs!

  10. I pushed to get out of a rental house, when the rent was raised, and buy so we could get another dog. Purchased a few months before the housing market skyrocketed. Still waiting for the right moment for the dog.
    As we shop for a new car we are looking at hatchbacks exclusively with the dog factor in mind. Children and pets will influence any major purchase, as I’ve learned.

  11. Big ticket item for the 6 Wieners? Yeah, I can think of one. Food. They eat better than we do. Also I hang onto my 94 Toyota 4 by justbsomtheybcan all ride to the PO with me everyday even when there’s 6 inches of snow. That little MGB I want won’t be happening!

  12. Every major purchase I make is with my dogs in mind. My present car SHOULD have been a Subaru, but the salesperson couldn’t work his schedule to take me for a test drive, across the street to Hyundai I went. Personally I hate the car, it’s really far too small for traveling with the dogs, but it’s what we have. My next car will also be purchased with the dogs in mind.

    And our house? Yes, that needed to have a fenced in yard for the dogs.

  13. I can so relate to this post. When we were house shopping we fell in love with ours before we even stepped inside – because of the back yard. Private, flat, and with a six foot fence. :-)

    Both of our cars, an Element and a Jeep, were both purchased for two primary purposes – snow friendly (we live on a very steep hill) and dog friendly.

  14. I bought a house for my dog, a toyota rav4 for camping with my dog, a sit on top kayak for kayaking with my dog, a bicycle dog trailer for her when she’s too old to run. I guess non dog people might think I’m crazy.