Monday, January 4, 2010

A bad woofer

The day we went to the beach in L.A., it was 74°; last night in Iowa, it was -20°, a difference of almost 100 degrees. I mention this because on the way home from L.A., we had some car trouble, and I had to spend a good ten minutes outside trying to fix the problem in subzero weather.

We first noticed the problem just south of Des Moines, when we heard a loud "Woof!" from near the right rear wheel. I looked back to see Bailey asleep in her bed, and Dempsey sitting, sphinx-like, in his kennel. Everything seemed ok, so I didn't stop. A few minutes later, the noise was back: "Woof!" This time, the "woof" was accompanied by a loud rattling noise.

I knew the problem could only be one thing: A bad woofer. Sometimes at home, Dempsey spills food from his kennel and becomes obsessed with trying to get it, barking and clawing at his kennel. This seemed to be what was happening in the car, though with a 10-hour drive, -20° weather, and a fully packed car, I was very reluctant to stop. I decided to keep driving, fixing the noise the same way my brother-in-law used to fix his rattling car during his poor, student years: Turning the radio up to drown out the noise.

It didn't work. After a few miles, the woofing and rattling were getting on everyone's nerves. "Don't make me stop the car," I warned Dempsey, but of course this didn't work, either. I pulled off the interstate onto a deserted country road.

I'm glad no one saw us, because I'm sure we looked like the Clampetts. For one thing, when I opened the door, I noticed that I was playing my Webb Pierce CD way too loudly. And then there was the car itself. The Jeep was fully loaded: three kennels, two beds, four bags of pet food, three bags of treats, a bag of toys, a backpack full of chewed-up retrieve objects, medicine and syringes for the cat, three leashes, a dog harness, four rolls of poop bags, a roll of paper towels, Odo-ban, Windex, puppy training pads, a kitty blanket, a kitty pillow, a kitty litter box, an extra bag of kitty litter, a box of kitty litter liners, two food bowls, two water bowls, a dog, and a cat. This was in addition to everything we had for us, namely one suitcase and a sack of lemons. If we had been building an ark for more than two animals, it would have sunk.

Doreen had packed the car, and I'm sure a grad student somewhere could write a Ph.D. thesis on her volume-maximizing close packing. It took me a good five minutes to unload enough stuff to get to the floor mat. As I suspected, Dempsey was wrong: There was nothing there. Dempsey seemed to agree, as he sat quietly during my unpacking.

To reward him for his patience, I gave him a doggie treat, and then started re-loading the car again. When I was about halfway done, I heard the noise again: "Woof!" Rattle. Rattle. Aargh!

I unloaded everything I had re-loaded, and looked again: Still nothing. But Dempsey insisted there was something there. I turned over the floor mat, dug around under the seat, and finally lifted up Dempsey's kennel. It was there I found one (1) piece of kibble. For those of you unfamiliar with dog food, let me explain that a piece of kibble is smaller than a dime.

I gave Dempsey the one (1) piece of kibble that had taken me ten minutes to find in subzero weather, and he was a happy boy, lying quietly in his kennel for the rest of the trip. Out of all the food in the car -- the bags of dog and cat food, the treats, the inevitable French fries between the seats -- he was upset about one (1) loose piece of kibble under his kennel. I think our boy has an unhealthy obsession with food.

P.S. Doreen and I are still pretty tired from our trip, but we'll have more vacation pics and vids up in the next few days.

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