“You’re taking your dog bicycle touring?”
We get asked that question a lot. And yes, we are taking our dog bicycle touring. I know it seems crazy, and – for the record – I want to make it clear the dog was John’s idea. John and the kids actually wanted to get a dog down in Mexico last year and I managed to hold them off for a while anyway. I mean – who in their right mind would get a dog when they are about to take off for a 2 ½ year bike trip?
In my quest to convince John it’s impossible (and quite possibly – insane) to carry a dog to Argentina, I actually managed to convince myself that it’s quite possible. I’m not totally convinced about the sane part of the equation yet – but I’m convinced it’s possible.
As I researched I found a number of important facts, some of which I’ve used in planning so far, and others I’ve stashed in the back of my mind to draw upon once we are on the road. In no particular order – here is a bunch of what I’ve learned.
- A dog will drink more water on the road than at home, but will eat about the same amount.
I’ve got a special corner of Dash’s basket set aside where his water bottle will go. I’ll plan on giving him water each time we stop, which means at least every hour.
- A dog needs shade when it’s hot and warmth when it’s cold.
I’ll be carrying two sweaters (one wool, one acrylic) that I can layer on him as needed. I’ve also got his sleeping bag/blanket made for him to snuggle into when it’s cold. I have a sunshade designed but not made yet – I’ll get it made in the next month or so.
- A very small dog is best on the handlebars, a bit bigger dog does best on the rear rack, and even bigger dogs need to go in a trailer.
Ideally I would have Dash on my handlebars so I could keep an eye on him all the time. However, I’m not sure I want 12 pounds moving around on my steering wheel. Having him on my rear rack is the next best thing – I’ll be able to keep an eye on him in my rear view mirror and can reach back to check on him frequently. If he needs something, he can tell me easily.
A frequent question we get is, “Why not in a trailer?” There are a couple of reasons for that. One is the distance from me and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see or touch him as I’m riding. The other, and perhaps major, reason is that he is simply too light. Twelve pounds simply isn’t enough to hold a trailer down and he would be bouncing all over. Most people who carry their dogs in a trailer have larger (30 – 50 pound) dogs, which is enough weight to keep the trailer down. Twelve pounds just won’t do it. The other problem with a trailer is that it is so close to the hot pavement, the dog can overheat too easily. Having Dash up on my rack will eliminate that problem.
- A dog should be chained in at all times.
My goal is for Dash to be able to move as much as possible, but not be able to get out of his basket to chase random squirrels. His chain is connected to two sides of the basket and the loop he is hooked on to can “float” on the chain. He can move as much as he wants and can get his paws up on the side of the basket – but can’t get one centimeter farther. If, somehow, Dash managed to get out of his basket, he will be hooked in with a harness rather than a collar so he won’t strangle himself.
Here are pics of Dash in his little Dashmobile – he’s pretty darn cute!
The good news is that we aren’t the first ones to do this. Maybe we are the first ones to cycle the entire Pan-American Highway with a pet, but not the first to tour on bikes with them.
Dylan and Cheri Harris carried a cat from Colombia to Argentina on their bikes.
Jodi and Scott toured the mountains of California with their 55-pound dog, Djengo.
Hank tours with not one, but two, dogs on the back of his bike!
Jenia has loads of fun touring with her 17-pound Jack Russell terrier named Lucy.
Bob cycled 2400 miles with his chocolate lab, Brandy.
The Reverend Cindy Morgan cycled 500 miles with her 70-pound service dog.
Diana and Zeke decided they wanted to do something special for their 50th Anniversary, but didn’t want to leave their miniature poodle, Lexus, behind.
Cabell and his dog, Coltrane, pedaled across the USA on the American Discovery Trail in 2006.
This guy took his dog touring in New Zealand in a special basket on his XtraCycle.
I haven’t read this book since I don’t speak French, but I’ve heard it’s wonderful. It’s about a man who cycled through Russia, Alaska, and Canada with his dog – in winter!
Travelling Two have a podcast of an interview with a Dutch couple touring Italy with their dog, Hunter.