Carrying a dog on a motorbike
In the previous entry you saw how I finally managed to have my motorbike come with me when touring with the Airstream during the summer months.
‘Riding your motorbike is all very well,’ I hear you cry, ‘but what about Dougal the Dog? That’s who we tune in to the blog to read about and see pictures of, anyway!’
Yes, I know where I come in the popularity stakes, and I know my place in Dougal’s shadow.
Dougal is very much part of my motorcycling. Indeed, even when deciding which kind of a dog to get, I settled on Jack Russell (or something thereabouts) as being ideal for me; easy to carry on the motorbike, doesn’t take up too much space in the Airstream, yet still a ‘proper’ dog and not an inbred fashion accessory that spends its life in discomfort.
The only slight fly in the ointment is that Dougal didn’t read the instruction manual properly and forgot to stop growing. And growing. And growing. While he isn’t quite the size of a Parson Russell Terrier, he now stands head-and-shoulders over most Jack Russells.
Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem, but it now means that he is a little big for the dog-carrier that I use when we go biking together.
I’ve seen a few ways that dogs can ride with their owners, including in the sidecar a la Wallace and Grommet. However, the three main options appear to be:
Tail (saddle) Bag
Whichever your dog chooses (you didn’t think that this would be YOUR choice, did you?) it is vital that there is a way to secure the animal to the bike or rider to ensure its safety.
We went for the dog-carrying rucksack by Outward Hound which I bought from doghaus.co.uk.
It’s similar to an ordinary rucksack, except that it has mesh sides, a roll-back top that can be clipped neatly out of the way, and a clip attachment to attach to the dog’s harness.
The rucksack training regime took over six months to prevent Dougal going through any unnecessary stress.
From the day after he arrived home as a puppy, he was put into the rucksack for short periods and would enjoy a short walk on foot, starting off at about a minute in duration and culminating in 15 minute stretches.
Similarly, he has a pair of ‘Doggles’ that he wears on the bike to prevent damage to his eyes, and the training regime for these followed a similar pattern. These came in useful for windy walks on sandy beaches to protect his eyes from the sand.
Eventually, after about three months of rucksack training, we took off on the pushbike, which Dougal loved and you can see a snapshot of him enjoying a sunny ride on the Hebridean island of Benbecula in this video, click here. The bits of Dougal on the bike are at 4:03 and 4:10.
Three months on, we introduced the motorbike for a short trip at a maximum of 30mph. Here’s a pic from that first trip:
You can see here that I put the rucksack on my front, thinking that Dougal would prefer to sit on the tank and see where we were going. Very quickly Dougal let me know he was not happy with this arrangement, and for the next trip I put the rucksack on my back. This was far better, and it was no doubt down to the fact that this is where Dougal is used to riding.
Slowly I increased the speed to a maximum of 50mph, and to prevent any damage to Dougal’s ears I strap them down with a doggy bandana. As our trips now cover greater mileage (although never more than 30 minutes without a break) he wears a dog coat inside the rucksack to keep the wind out, which looks quite like a biking cape.
It was a long process to get there, and it seems strange on a sports bike to bimble along at 50mph and sometimes have to pull over and let traffic pass, but it’s been well worth it. Needless to say, the reaction of other people when they see a biker dog in goggles and a bandana with his paw on my shoulder, looking at the road ahead, is an utter joy. We’ve made a lot of people smile. And, funnily enough, have posed for more than a few photos!
NB – THIS STORY IS PROVIDED FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATION ONLY. IT IS PARAMOUNT THAT THE OWNER TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS/HER PETS AND DOES NOT SUBJECT THEM TO UNNECESSARY STRESS. THERE ARE SOME DOGS THAT WOULD BE EXTREMELY DISTRESSED TO BE CARRIED IN SUCH A WAY, AND TO DO SO WOULD BE AN ACT OF CRUELTY AND MAY RESULT IN PROSECUTION. IT IS ALSO IMPERATIVE TO RESPECT ALL LOCAL LAWS AS REGARDS ANIMAL TRANSPORTATION.