I will admit that there have been times during my seven (49) years on this planet when I have been a bad dog. I have destroyed shoelaces, slippers, socks and the occasional Thanksgiving turkey.

I have acted inappropriately toward guests at dinner parties, mistaking their legs for an attractive Shih Tzu. I have bit the mailman, the neighbor's cat and Ms. Peterson, whom my owner never really liked. In my defense, I can only argue that these were not intentional, vindictive acts, but basic, primitive, uncontrollable instincts, as natural as fetching a ball.

Yet, the great state of New Jersey is seeking to curb one of these instincts and in doing so will take away one of our most pleasurable acts - putting our head out the window while our owner drives down Route 9.

On the surface, Assemblywoman Grace Spencer's proposal to require owners to secure their pets with a seat-belt like harness (unless crated) while traveling by car seems benign enough, and I'm sure was intended to protect us and others from harm. But like most Americans, I feel that the government has focused too much on protecting us from ourselves and not enough on protecting us from greed, terrorism and corruption.

According to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, 45 percent of registered voters in New Jersey support the bill, while 40 percent do not. My guess is that 100 percent of those polled will never understand the feeling of absolute freedom and power that comes from hanging your tongue out the window and letting the 60-mph wind wash away the constant stress associated with being a dog. They say it's a dog's life, but believe me - we have our stress.

As a species we must succumb to some of the state's strictest and most asinine laws. We are allowed only on certain beaches, and even then only October through May. Not that it really matters much. Trying to find a dog-friendly hotel down the shore is like trying to find an articulate thought in "Jersey Shore."

In addition to being banned from the beach, in most municipalities I am forced to be walked on a leash, wear metal tags to prove I am healthy, and suffer the shared indignation of my owner following my tail with gloves, plastic bags and scoopers to clean up after me. Do horse owners abide by the same laws? I think not.

The point is this: I am not a child. I am a dog and proud of it, and as long as I am not causing harm to my driver or other drivers on the road, I have every right to put my head out the window and howl to Willie Nelson on the radio or, for that matter, to chase my own damn tail whenever I please.

Please excuse the curt, brief nature of this column, but I'm late for a poker game.

Joey House lives with his owner, Nate House, in Philadelphia and Delmont. Nate House's novel, "Float," was published last year. Readers can reach him, and Joey, via natehouse.wordpress.com.


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