The Hazards of Transporting Puppies


I promise to stop talking about my foster puppies soon. Especially since I’m down to just two of them; soon enough, I won’t have anything to say. But today’s adventure made me yearn for the day they will all be gone.

I agreed to transport two puppies to meet with a woman who was adopting one of the pups. She was going to transport the second puppy to the base of the West Coast coordinator of the breed rescue who has sponsored this litter (and their heartworm-positive mom); the pup will catch a ride with yet another volunteer in a few days to her new home in southern California – about a 10-hour drive from my house to the puppy’s new home, all in all.

I have a good-sized crate for pups of this size, but it’s on loan to a friend who transported yet another one of the puppies to a town in the southern bay area. That’s where the pup was transferred to the brother of the adopter; he drove that pup several hours further south to Bakersfield, where he met the adopter, who had driven up from near Phoenix, Arizona! At any rate, I didn’t have the crate that fits in the back of my car.

But I drive a car that has a smallish but deep “way back” area behind the back seat, and the seats are not only tall, but they recline slightly. So if I put puppies in this way-back area, when I recline the seats, the pups are more or less secure back there – at least, all the other puppies I’ve ever transported that way were. I put down two thick, fuzzy mats on top of the sheet that I pretty much always have protecting every dog-accessible surface of my car.

My segment of the transport was about an hour in each direction.

At about the 30-minute point, I detected the unmistakable aroma of fresh puppy vomit. I pulled over.

It looked to me like both puppies had lost their lunch – er, breakfast. But I stopped before both pups were covered in the semi-digested food. I was able to scoot the pups to one side and fold up the top mat, with the vomit safely contained within it. Ha! Good thing I had padded the back area so well! I petted the pups and tried to give them a few words of encouragement. “Not much farther, pups! Hang in there!” I got back in and started driving.

I had only gone a few miles when the odor took another, far worse turn. Someone pooped. Ack! I pulled over again.

As I got out of the car, I could see one puppy in my back seat. Oh my gosh! How did he do that? It was the larger puppy, and he apparently used the folded up vomit mat to gain enough altitude to pull himself over the back seat. At any rate, thank dog, he wasn’t the one who pooped. In fact, he was looking a little like, “I had to climb out of the back, man! There is POOP back there!” He then crawled under the front seat, and rode the rest of the way under there.

I opened the way back and recoiled. Soooo much poop and spread around liberally by the very car-sick puppy, who, in her panic at being left alone in the way-back, within the minute it took me to pull over, had tracked all through the soft poo. I quickly shut the hatch, and walked to the passenger door, which I opened so I could reach the glove compartment. I had brought my dog Woody with me; he wouldn’t make eye contact with me, but had a sort of disgusted look on his face as he steadfastly stared forward through the windshield.

I save extra napkins from fast-food places, and there were a bunch in my glovebox. I grabbed all of them and went back to the rear of the car.

I was able to fold the poop-smeared mat in half, and then used napkin after napkin to wipe the puppy’s paws and rear end (she sat in it at least once). By the time I was done, she still smelled to high heaven, but wasn’t leaving poop on my paper napkins. I folded the mat into a quarter, with all the poopy napkins inside, and hit the road again.

Within two minutes, the carsick pup had climbed over the now-high-stacked mats into the back seat, and then into the front seat of my car. She just wanted some comfort, so I allowed her to crawl into my lap, where she rode the rest of the way to my meeting spot with her head on my chest, drooling – so I had a smelly, wet, drooly shirt-front when I met the nice lady who was going to take the pups the rest of the way.

My first question: “Did you by any chance bring a big crate?”

Thank dog, she did. I donated the one (relatively) clean sheet that I had in the back seat to pad the crate – and in case she needed something, you know, “absorbent” for the next hour’s drive. We chatted for a few minutes, I introduced her to her new pup and the carsick pup, and after a last kiss on the puppy heads (how much worse could it be?) we got the pups situated in the big crate. Then I drove Woody and myself home, with the passenger window halfway down, and Woody’s head hanging out. I would have done the same, if I could have driven like that.

Note to self: Never transport pups for a long drive in a car without a crate again. And perhaps some wet-wipes, a plastic bag or two, and a roll of paper towels.

What was your most memorably disastrous dog transport?