The dogs aren’t happy with Isaac right now -- especially the two big ones.

Since my teenage son got his learner’s permit, the old dog Chester and the boxer Val had to give up shot-gun and ride in the back. They don’t really like it.

Chester has made it clear he’s not happy by yowling a throat howl every time I put him in the back. The front passenger seat has always been his spot for the eight years I’ve had my car, and he rode shotgun in the old car I had before too.

Val isn’t exactly thrilled with the decision to put her in the back either. She gives us both dirty looks when we lead her to the back and tell her to stay there.

Not that they really listen to us. Even though the front seats are occupied, Val will try to sneak up to the front through the center console by nudging us with her nose.  I respond by telling her, ‘Yes, I know you’re a good dog,’ and gently encourage her to go by pulling an ear an scratching her under the chin.

 Chester is more direct -- he doesn’t ask for permission, and tried to bulldoze his way to the front by rushing us in the middle -- but he isn’t quick enough to go beyond a side chop of my arm and the stern warning of “Don’t even think about it, mister.” He protests with a growl and I remind him, “Yes I know it’s not fair, but Isaac needs to learn how to drive.” Usually a conversation along this line and little more convincing will get him to turn back around, but not without sulking.

At least until they try to sneak up front five minutes later.

So, not only do I have to watch Isaac’s driving and tell him where to turn, I’ve also got to keep an eye on the dogs and make sure they don’t distract the teenage driver. It’s quite a circus.

It probably doesn’t help that Shih Tzu Leonard goes out of his way to mock the two dogs in the back. He’s small enough to sit on my lap without getting in the way, and I suspect he knows he’s in a privileged position.  He’ll antagonize the other two with a yip here and there and dare them to do something about it by blocking them at the center console.

But he really shouldn’t tease them. The other two know I can’t protect Leonard all night and day, and they’ll get their licks in when I’m not looking. Val always gives him a look that says she intends to do just that.

Even with the back seat shuffle, the dogs don’t seem to mind Isaac’s driving.

And despite a wrong turn or a little mistake here and there, I have to say I enjoy having Isaac drive. We have some meaningful conversations because he can’t be on his phone, he gets stuck listening to the music I like and the dogs provide us with much-needed comic relief.