It’s a weekday and the alarm is set to wake me up before the rest of the household stirs. The only other sound is my dog quietly pacing outside. He greets me with a yawn and a stretch and shoves his head happily through the harness that will soon be attached to my bike. We set off down our suburban street towards a nature strip where he can run freely beside me, setting his own pace – sniffing, rolling and marking his territory with gay abandon. Twenty minutes later and I’m back home, my heart slightly racing, my muscles warmed and my dog happily panting at my side. It’s a great start to our day but it hasn’t always been like this………
Scooter (my dog) appeared on my doorstep over 4 years ago – when I was at a low point. Juggling a 4-year old and a 2-year old child and a puppy probably wasn’t the best choice at the time but somehow we all managed to bumble our way through. Extra time was never allocated to our new addition to the household, Scooter just had to try and fit in with the rest of us. Puppy school was intended but the $$$ or time never eventuated.
Training for scooter meant being dragged on the lead beside the pram when the kids and I had an errand to run. Socialising with other dogs was done down at the local park when the kids were on the swing set and I was attempting to have some time-out on the park bench. Patience was taught by being tied up outside the local kindergarten when I was dropping or picking up a child. In the meantime Scooter taught himself some stuff – how to pull down sheets off the line, dig holes along the fence line and escape into our neighbours yards and chew up any object left laying around outside that smelt ‘interesting’.
And during all this time Scooter just kept growing. Somehow the ‘medium’ sized dog that I had been cajoled into taking on had grown into a ‘large’ dog with enough strength to take down a wild boar if he had the opportunity.
Walking him had become some sort of nightmare. I’d tried all sorts of methods of keeping him from pulling – ad hoc training, chokers, harnesses – all to no avail and if he wasn’t walked he would stay on red alert all night barking at the smallest disturbance.
It was only until I discovered the ‘haltie’ (a type of harness that went around the face) that I found I had some control over him and could walk him on a regular basis. This seemed to create a new problem though – the more he walked the fitter he got and the more ‘outings’ he needed. Not easy to juggle amongst a growing family, school, work and life commitments.
And then one day, ‘running’ alongside the kids as they rode to school it dawned on me – now that I had some control of him on the lead I too could keep the pace up by using a bike.
So here I am, 2 years on and completely loving my early morning rides with my dog. There’s been a lot of learning along the way ‘bike’ wise which I’m keen to share with you. In hindsight the title of this article should have been Forced to Bike – because without my dog it would never had happened…….
What things has your dog ‘forced’ you to do? Are you happier and healthier because of this?