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The View from Here

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The car seat works generally the same as a standard child restraint.

Travels with Charlie include car seat

I am often bemused, sometimes amused, by the reactions I get after telling people we bought a car seat for Charlie. He’s our little dog, a fierce West Highland Terrier who has put the fear of death into neighbourhood squirrels. They know they enter our yard at their peril. When Charlie bursts out the back door, they race madly for the fences.
He hasn’t caught one yet. If he ever does, odds are that he would lick it to death. That’s probably what he’d do to any intruder foolish enough to try breaking into the house.
On our twice-a-day walks, he has encountered a couple of aggressive dogs, but without serious result. He has made it to this stage of his young life without harming any people or other animals. At the same time, no harm has come to him.
I want to keep it that way. That’s why we bought him a car seat before departing on our road trip to Tennessee. We also wanted it for our drives to visit my in-laws. They live in Brampton. We usually take Highway 7 through Acton and Georgetown when we go. It’s not hard to get up to 80 or 90 kilometres per hour on the stretches of road between towns.
The interstates between Lewiston and Knoxville are generally posted at 60 miles an hour, about the same as the 401.
The car seat works generally the same as a standard child restraint. It goes on the back seat, where it is held in place by the seat belt. Charlie sits on the chair wearing a harness that clips onto it. It lifts him high enough that he can see out the window. It is wide enough for him to curl up and have a sleep, which is how he spends most of his waking hours. It had an unforeseen advantage at the border crossings, but more of that in a moment. When we spoke about it with friends and family, they would have a condescending little chuckle. Isn’t that oh so precious, they seemed to think.
You think about it, we’d respond, highway speed is a lot for an unrestrained body. No one would lay a baby on the back seat and drive down the 401.
Why would we let our dogs roam free with their noses poking out an open window?
It is hard to find statistics on dog injuries in car collisions. At 50 kilometres an hour, a 10- pound dog would hit the windscreen (or the back of your head) with 200 pounds of force.
Statistics Canada reports that in 2009 there were over 170,000 automobile accidents across Canada in which people suffered injuries. Two thousand were fatal.
There wouldn’t have been a dog in every car, but there would have been quite a lot.
When your child outgrows the booster seat after you’ve driven for eight years without so much as denting a fender, what do you think? That it was a waste of money because it wasn’t needed?
Or that it was money well spent because it might have been? In some states it is the law that pets must be restrained in moving vehicles. It should be here as well.
Going both ways across the border, the customs officer checked our passports and asked the standard questions. We gave the proper answers. Then the officer looked up and said “Oh. Is that a Westie? On your way, folks.” Sometimes I think you could cross over with a trunk load of contraband if you have a Westie on the back seat.
Don’t blame me if you get caught, though.

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