JOPLIN, Mo. —
Before I moved to Joplin, I bought my first new car in almost a decade and a half. I figured with the drive back and forth between home and the miles I would be putting in at work, the late '90s Cavalier-of-almost-certain-doom would probably not suffice for this job.
While I have never been a car guy, I always took pride in how my car looked and handled. I figure I should probably keep the thing that drains my bank account each month in pretty good shape.
Last Friday, I was in the Globe's parking lot getting ready to leave for a story when I stopped and looked at the back of my car. It was caked in salt, dirt and grime.
I stood there for a good 30 seconds before our editor-in-chief stopped me to ask me what I was doing. I was in such deep contemplation over how bad my car looked that it bothered me.
The inside was much, much worse, thanks in part to my dog. I did a ton of traveling this winter, and most of it was with her.
There were nose prints caked on the windows. Her hair had worked itself into the cup holders.
The underside of the emergency brake was just disgusting. Thanks to having a dark interior and a dog with light colored hair, I could see every little hair left behind.
Here is a little known secret about me: I like to clean. I'm not like the dad from ÒFull House," but I am in the minority of people who enjoy this task. Washing my car is my personal moment of Zen, and I became one with everything for a good hour on Friday.
I can't fault a dog for shedding. It is one of those things that does not stress me anymore.
Thanks to her, I am an ace with a lint roller. I keep her coat trimmed up, and I give her a good bath once a month to keep her fur clean.
A war with fur isn't something you can win Ñ you can only hope to hold the line. While I was underneath my car seats with a vacuum, that phrase became my mantra.
For those of you with kids, I'm telling a similar story to what you go through. Many of you have cars that look like they are losing the battle to your young ones. As a pet parent, I feel your pain.
For that quarter-mile drive between the car wash and my apartment, my car was immaculate again. Her black paint gleamed in the waning sunlight. Thanks to a new air freshener and a power vacuuming that would make my mother proud, the inside of my car was looking classy.
And that is when I loaded up the car for a weekend roadtrip.
As I was driving to work today, the nose prints were back. I could see the fur on the floor mat that she slept on for part of the drive. It wasn't bad, but I noticed it.
Increasing the frequency of how much I clean the inside of my car will join the list of things I have changed thanks to my pet. In the long run, most of these changes are small, comfort-of-life type of things, and this will be no different.
I know those nose prints come from her looking out at the window as she gets to travel one of the best states in the union. For a dog that once lived in a kennel at a rescue shelter, a couple of extra minutes cleaning my car a week so that she has that opportunity is worth it to me.
Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at email@example.com or 417-627-7363.