Nova Scotia

How a dogged pursuit of driving got this chow chow pulled over

Dolly the dog has a pretty good life — apart from when she’s getting her owner pulled over by the police, or bellowed at by passing motorists in her Nova Scotia neighbourhood.

Dolly is quite safe in her harness, but her owner took further steps after the RCMP stopped her

Dolly prepares for another dreamy drive in Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Joyce Lappin)

Dolly the dog has a pretty good life — apart from when she's getting her owner pulled over by the police, or bellowed at by passing motorists in her Nova Scotia neighbourhood.

The seven-year-old chow chow enjoys getting her haircut — like a lion or teddy bear, depending on the weather — and she loves going for drives. Her owner, Joyce Lappin, said those long drives cause a stir.

"It's shocking for most people. They do a double take thinking I might have a bear or a lion with me. Especially little kids. Their eyes pop out of their heads," she said.

The big dog hangs out of the window to catch all the sunshine and smells. She's restrained by a robust, four-point harness so she can't get out of the car, but people can't clearly see that.

Lappin said other drivers shout warnings to her at traffic lights, and she understands their concern. Usually, she explains Dolly is safe and drives on. But a recent stop prompted her to take an extra step.

RCMP stop leads to change

"I saw the [police] lights four or five cars back. I thought, 'Oh no! There's been an accident. Oh no! She's coming for me,'" she said with a laugh.

The friendly RCMP officer said she worried the dog would leap into traffic and get hurt.

Nova Scotia's Animal Protection Act states that animals in cars must be confined, safe and not a hazard to other vehicles, but that officers can remove an animal from a car if they feel it's in immediate danger.

Lappin understands the concern, so she had a special sign made for Dolly a few weeks ago. Under her window, it reads: "My name is Dolly. I am harnessed in for safety."

Dolly's new sign has set passing drivers at ease. It was a gift from Melissa at Speed Signs in Lake Echo, pictured here. (Submitted by Joyce Lappin)

Lappin said it's working. People read it and now shout "Thank you!" at her when she's out. She also sticks to her neighbourhood outside of Dartmouth so it's mostly familiar faces. And she even thanked the RCMP for their concern, and hasn't been pulled over since. 

Lappin said Dolly enjoys the drives, even if they ruffle her fur. Lappin, a professional hair stylist, isn't allowed to help. "She's such a brat with me. Being a hairdresser, people assume I do her hair. No," she said — only the Paw Palace will do.

"If I can come back as a dog, I want to be someone like her, owned by someone like me," Lappin added.

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