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The world's smallest sled dog

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ferrett and I have been watching Cesar Milan in the background while working, and one of the things that he emphasizes is giving dogs enough exercise. He rollerblades with his dogs, and encourages people to bike with them as well.

I don't rollerblade, but it's been noted that I do bike, so I thought I'd give it a try with Shasta.

The problem is, Shasta is terrified of bicycles. When we walk, she lunges at them with a ferocity that is unmatched by her reaction to anything else. But, hey, Mommy was gonna be the one on the bike; it would be okay, right.


The first time out, I got about 6 houses down the street before giving up. She was biting her leash, snapping at the tires, snapping at my ankles, and barking her head off. I almost ran her over three times, and almost crashed twice. I staggered back to the house, laughing at the disaster.

But if at first you don't succeed! And we have lots of experience with her being terrified of something the first time she encounters it and getting better. So this morning after taking her for her walk, I decided to try again.

First of all, I used the mountain bike, which is smaller. Secondly, I rode on the sidewalk--something I never do when riding regularly, but in this case it seemed the wiser. As we began, Shasta was barking and snapping just like the first time. This time, though, I was ready to be more patient. I stopped and reassured her, pedaled a few more feet, stopped again and let her sniff the bike, pedaled a bit more and stopped to make her quit biting the leash.

After the third stop, she turned and fled the bike. And after a few yards, she began to get the idea.

And suddenly I wasn't pedaling; I was being pulled down the street by 15 pounds of black, streaking energy. To the point that I was braking. We got to the first corner, and getting her to turn to the right caused me to almost hit a telephone pole. Next corner, I had to come to a complete stop to get her to turn and head back up the length of the block. It's slightly uphill, so we weren't going as fast, but there were distractions: dogs being walked, birds, fire hydrants. So I went back and forth between pedaling and braking, and being suddenly yanked by a sprinting dog such that I had to recatch my balance.

We turned the third corner, and keeping her from going straight and into the street I had to stop completely and pull her back, then sort of waddle the bike around the corner. And things fell apart there. We were back to the snarling and snapping and barking and biting the leash. Fortunately, this was the short side of the block and we were almost home. So we fought our way around the last turn and I was resigned to heading home, glad we'd made some progress.

Then, headed downhill, Shasta started running again. So we went around again, and then a third time. It was better, but we are clearly both still learning. The lunging and slowing for her, the braking and then getting almost pulled off the bike for me. By the time I got home from those three miles, I was hot and sweating, despite the fact that Shasta was doing most of the work.

But she got the corners, and we had a great time.

And now she is flopped beside me, worn out. So yay!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a wonderful, humorous story. I am so glad you succeeded your task. I have not yet been able to get my two cats to use a leach and have given up.

    Although you inspired me to get out there and ride even with difficulties, you did not inspire to get a dog. emoticon emoticon
    1610 days ago
    This is a joy to read!!! What a comedy!! Thank you for sharing!!! Can't help but wonder what the little thing is thinking!!! Too funny!
    1617 days ago
    Congratulations. As a child I tried to "walk" our Dalmatian while riding my bike. I would end up on the ground every time. My Dad tried it once, he was going to show me how it was done, but ended up on the road with bumps and bruises. Needless to say we didn't do it again.
    1617 days ago
    Shasta is obviously much more active than our Rosie! She just looks at me if I pick up the leash. She has decided that, since she now that she is the advanced age of 14 that she does not have to walk!
    1617 days ago
    Oh. My. Goodness.
    Good for you for persistence, and good for Shasta, too. She must really love and trust you to put up with all of that!

    It does seem to be an excellent way to help an active dog get enough exercise. Have you seen the special leash systems they make for bikes? They're like bungee leashes, hooked to the rear wheel, so the cyclist can use both hands to steer and brake. This makes some sense to me - if I'm holding a leash and the handlebar, my 70 lb labrador retriever could jerk the leash and cause an accident.

    NOT, of course, that I've ever tried such an experiment! emoticon
    1617 days ago
    1617 days ago
    Best of luck with this new adventure! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1617 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon but, be very careful that you don't get hurt.
    1617 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    Now the key is to build on that success! Always end the lesson on a high note.
    1617 days ago
    I'm impressed you were able do so much with her on your second ride. emoticon emoticon
    1618 days ago
    I would have definitely fallen down at the first turn and then walked up. Never a good bike rider. Sounds like you enjoyed it, especially Shasta! emoticon
    1618 days ago
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