Cassie goes almost everywhere with us but depending on which car we take it’s like traveling with two different dogs. In my car, a Honda coupe, she sits directly behind me on the back seat. She’s happy as can be, looking out the back window or just laying down to wait for us to get wherever it is we need to go. But when the three of us go out, like on our 45 minute drives to Santa Cruz, we usually take my husband’s car, a Toyota Four-Runner. We have a doggy gate in the back and Cassie races to the car and jumps in, always anxious to go along, until the car starts and we move down the road.

Then she turns into a barking machine, non-stop from San Jose to Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. Constant barking. Loud barking. Frantic barking.

It’s been over a year that she’s lived with us and nothing seemed to make a difference. Recently, after a long trip filled with barking in the Toyota I took her on a short trip in the Honda and noticed again how I didn’t have any problems with her. I suggested to my husband that we take out the doggy gate and put down the seats so she could come up closer to where we were.

Filled with hope, we invited Cassie to go for a ride. She jumped in the backseat and then walked all the way up to the front and sat down. We started the car and headed down the road.

Silence. Total silence.

This past week we’ve done several more short trips, around the block a few miles downtown, and each one is just the same. A quiet dog happily going along for a ride. It’s not a permanent solution but I think now that we know what the problem was, we’ll be able to work on acclimating her to riding in the back. Heck, the view’s better back there anyway with more windows. But for now, it’s all about getting up close and personal on our family outings.

Some stories are like that, staying in the background, barking at you, begging for attention. They’re never satisfied until you bring them up front with you, as close as they can get. But sometimes we’re afraid to bring the stories too close. Afraid of what the story might show the world about us or perhaps afraid of the story might show us something we don’t want to see.

I never expect that kind of writing to come easily to me. I scream at the computer and throw a few barking fits of my own. I’ve finally learned that I can’t do that kind of deep, emotionally honest writing in one sitting. But I can do it in short bursts, like a trip around the block.

The best stories, the ones that stick in our hearts and minds, are the ones that reflect life as it is, not as we wish it were. The ones that bring us up close and personal.