This is the first in a series of guest posts that will be published while Dottie and I are away. First up is S., a former blogger at academichic who now chronicles her bicycle life at the lovely new blog Simply Bike.
One of our first purchases after my return from Germany this summer was a Burley trailer for our dog. I had seen people pull their dogs to the park in Germany this way and was dying to try it out with our Indie. Much avid Craigslist searching and $60 later, this Burley child trailer was ours.
Burley makes both child and pet trailers for bikes. (New Burley trailers cost around $300-400, both in the pet and child variety, so we figured that at the discounted Craigslist price we could make the necessary conversations to make the trailer fit our needs). This particular trailer was designed to hold two small children so we figured that it would be adequate for one mid-sized dog. My dream was to convert this trailer to hold our dog and some odd picnic items to take our family on bike-powered day trips to the park or to the lake. My husband and I love riding our bikes to our local lake for a day of swimming but whenever we wanted bring our pup along, we were faced with the decision: bikes or dog? With this trailer, we could have our cake and eat it too. Or, more accurately, our bike ride and our dog.
We thus set forth to make the necessary changes to the trailer. We cleaned the trailer (it had a slight mold problem, we were dismayed to find); we removed the child seat; and we added a sturdy floor mat to flatten and reinforce the bottom of it. We bought an orange flag for visibility and we waited for a nice cool weather weekend to give this new ride a try. And, like every safe cyclist, Indie wore a helmet.
To help Indie associate the trailer with happy moments, we planned her first ride to beover to our friends’ place, whose dog is Indie’s best friend. A short two-mile ride and a doggie date awaiting sounded like the perfect plan for our maiden voyage. Treats in stash, we loaded her in the trailer and headed out the door.
Apparently, two miles in the trailer was about a 1.8 miles too much for Indie. We barely made it down our street when she started whimpering and whining and digging at the mesh cover with her paws. No amount of sweet-talking from me or treat bribery could calm her down. By the time we reached the end of our block, she sounded like her leg was being sawed off.
Halfway to our destination, I was riding behind the trailer when a little black head poked out and turned around to say hello. The only thing: the trailer had been fully enclosed and secured. There was no opening or ‘window’ for a convertible-style doggieride. Indie had successfully clawed her way out of the mesh enclosure and T-rexed her way to freedom. We had, of course, anticipated resistance and had tied her leash to the inside, essentially seat-belting her in. While her head was free, she had no way of making a great escape and so, with no reason to abort the mission, we trudged on. And in case you’re wondering, having partly escaped her confines did nothing to soothe her spirits; she continued to wail and cry at decibels that could have shattered glass.
After what felt like an eternity, we reached our friends’ home with nothing other than our hopes and Burley trailer harmed. Indie was fine and, within minutes, she was the overjoyed pup she usually is as she got to run and play with her friend Shasta. But the bike ride did not go quite as hoped and – I hate to admit – we rode our bikes home and returned in our car to pick up Indie. So much for that much anticipated family bike outing. Our only consolation: when we do have children and we strap them in a bike trailer, their nails will have been trimmed to non-shredding capabilities and a pacifier will hopefully dampen the sound of their cries. I’m not quite ready to give up our dream of group bike rides yet, you see.
Visit S. at her simply beautiful blog, Simply Bike.