My big goal for the summer (pathetic as this may be) was mastering the art of the two dog bike ride. and last night, for the first time, WE DID IT! And more exciting still, WE SURVIVED IT!
And now the story…
When I taught Maggie to run with the bike, I used her leash around my wrist up on the handlebars and she likes to run as fast as possible ahead of the bike. I taught her to run with the bike the first spring I had her, when she was a spastic, highly untrained, and very energetic pup. We suffered some pretty good falls, wrapping around poles, etc. But we improved slowly but surely, Maggie learned the sound of my brakes (they squeak and I refuse to fix it), and eventually we got pretty good together.
With Suzie, I waited a little longer because I had such fond memories of teaching Maggie and didn’t want to repeat those injuries. Last summer I got the K-9 Cruiser attachment for my bike and Suzie mastered the bike on that with no major falls or injuries! Yay! Maggie doesn’t do as well on the k-9 cruiser because it keeps her behind the back wheel and she wants to be in front of the bike… so she likes to just pull as hard as possible to get in front of the bike… not entirely comfortable for the rider, who feels the back of the bike trying to get in front of the front of the bike… yeah, we’ve still got some kinks to work out.
The problem with only being able to take one dog is that the other is a wreck being left behind (can we say “co-dependent”) and it either means I have to come home and switch dogs half way through, or if I’m crunched for time, only one dog gets to go and the other is a wreck for the rest of the day / evening. Thus my goal for the summer.
The K-9 cruiser is built to be able to attach multiple dogs, supposedly. Although I’m guessing typically people who do attach more than one dog do not attach two large dogs- just a guess. Anyway, my only complaint with the K-9 cruiser is that there are no springs between you and the dog. And if your large 60 lb. dog is trying to get in front of the bike, you can feel the pulling – it didn’t pull me over, but does send panic signals to the rider 🙂 So I decided springs were in order, somewhere on the contraption between me and the dogs. I went to the local hardware store and found two springs, one more rigid than the other. I figured I’d try one of each and see which worked better. I also bought two double clips, for attaching to the spring and to the dog’s collar loop. Below is the more rigid of the springs, it didn’t have much give when you tried to pull it apart, but ended up being the best of the two for this particluar use.
I decided Maggie (my main pull-er) should be tired before we try this. She’s not as grouchy about Suzie touching her when she’s tired and she wouldn’t be pulling if she was already tired out. So I hooked up Maggie with the new and most rigid spring and we set off. There was some pulling still, but the spring did take some of the pull and me braking regularly solved the rest of it. Mag and I biked maybe a mile and a half before stopping home to get Suzie. I should also note that I haven’t biked hardly at all with Maggie this year, so her tolerance is pretty low (meaning she wears down pretty fast).
I attached Suzie to the other lead with the less rigid spring and we set off. One big tired dog, one small energetic dog, and the rider. I kept it fairly slow and we specifically avoided the exciting dog houses in the neighborhood. We did some circles in the school lot as practice, pulled over to stop when approaching other people on the sidewalk, and things were going swimminly. We were a block from home when a guy went by walking his dog. Suzie gave a pull and her spring sprang off and flying across the street and Suzie went to meet said new dog. Awesome. It is a little tricky holding a bike with one dog while trying to retrieve the dog that got free, hmmm. Luckily Suzie is very friendly and pretty obedient, so she came when I called her (the third time), I reattached her without the missing spring which is lost forever, and we made it home all in one piece, although missing one $2 spring.
I can’t say we have “mastered” the two-dog-bike-ride, but we did it once and it was successful, no injuries to anyone involved. Hallelujiah! We will be doing it more often and mastering the art in the coming weeks. (Donal and Kara both swear they want to catch it on film, so there may be pictures at some point).
And I will be getting a second rigid spring that doesn’t bend and spring off at the sight of a new dog.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating the victory!