Women Riders

Puttin’ with your Mutt

Written by  May 31, 2007

The love and support we give to animals return to us in their sensitivity, compassion and resilience. Sometime animals are our companions to life’s difficult destinations.
Other times they can be our sidekick on the journey of back roads, mountains, highways and byways. Beloved pets can be found riding two up, in a side car, or sitting on the tank as their guardian heads to a rally, bike night or family vacation.

How does a motorcycle rider decide they are going to start taking their dog on their bike? How do they train them to hold on and stay calm during the rumbling of engines?

I ventured out and talked to a couple of riders who “never leave home” without their biker dog. Shelia Tines of Lee’s Summit said, “There was no deciding on my part; where I go, she goes.” She is Sasha, a 2-year-old Miniature Pinscher (min-pin) who thinks she is human and is most definitely the boss of Shelia! Shelia and Sasha not only ride together, they dress alike! Matching tank tops, vests, doo-rags and goggles set them apart from other bikers.

Shelia started out carrying Sasha in a front sling-type carrier not knowing how she would react to the vibration and noise of the bike. She later went to a mini backpack where Sasha rides while looking over Shelia’s shoulder! “As soon as I start putting my boots on Sasha is jumping around, barking and then runs to get her leash. She knows it’s time to ride!” Shelia said. “It’s unbelievable, she can’t get enough of the wind in her face and her little head is constantly bopping right and left.” What a view! When at the end of their ride they pull in the driveway and turn the bike off, Sasha barks and barks, trying to tell her guardian she is not finished riding!

I asked Shelia how long it took to train Sasha to ride as a passenger and she told me, “It was really quite easy since I started her so young. I would take her out on short jaunts, and then gradually went for longer rides. She just huddled close to my body and felt safe. She quivered a little the first couple times, but gradually calmed down once she got the feel of the ride. The noise of the bikes and traffic didn’t seem to faze her, but then who can hear anything when you’re on a Harley! Shelia said she had a friend with a pug and every time she took him out he yelped, barked and trembled. She finally gave up because she thought it was too stressful for the dog and her!”

How do you pack for the two of you was another question. “Well, one saddle bag is mine and the other one is for Sasha. I take her food, water, treats, poop scoop, baggies, jacket and her little blanket in case we decide to stop and have a picnic. In the two years since we have been riding together Sasha has logged 15,000 miles under her tail. We go to rallies, poker runs and the normal weekend rides. We have been to 10 states on our travels and everywhere we stop she gets all the attention. It’s always funny to see a car full of people pass us, then see the brake light and as we catch up, out comes the camera and click, click, click!”

I also wondered what riders do with their buddies when they go into restaurants, stop for gas, get drinks or use the restroom. Amiee Wier of Platte City who takes her 4-year-old Shih Tzu, Boogie, cross country on rides said, “I have a small collapsible carrier she stays in. It slips over my sissy bar (after a few alterations to make it fit) and is fastened securely. I try to always park where I can see my bike and Boogie, and when I’m riding with others they eagerly volunteer to watch her or walk her while I run in to pay for gas or make a pit stop. Believe me, dogs are not high maintenance as traveling companions, they ask for so little—food, water and attention, and they get plenty of that everywhere we go.”

Kathy Plank who owns Kathy’s Klippery in the Northland alternates taking her small dogs on trips with her. She told me she just tucks them in her coat, they pop their heads out to look around and back in when they are tired. Kathy said she rode to a grooming school in Iowa on her bike with her Pomeranian 50 miles each way like that. If only humans could adjust so easily!

I’ll never forget a dog we saw on the way to Sturgis one year in the parking lot of a restaurant. The bike was a baby blue Harley-Davidson Road King with two small trailers attached, plus a doggie carrier on top of the tour pack. There sat a toy poodle with a baby blue doo-rag on and painted toenails, baby blue of course. The owners told us they never had children and this was “their child,” so like Shelia, wherever they go, he went along.
Ahhh, what a charmed life he led, and the movie star attention he received was probably the talk of many dinner table conversations.

After talking to our readers and their pets, it makes me want to go out and find a small shelter dog to share my passion of riding with. But, we are at a stage in our life for the first time where we are “dog-less.” No more walking in the door to wagging tails as they follow us from room to room, the pats on the head or the leaps into bed at night, just to be close to us. Our Golden Retriever lived to be 15, Black Lab, 17 years, Yellow Lab, 16 years and our beloved cat was 20. We still have three cats, ages 19, 8 and 2, but oh how it tears your heart out when they leave your family. They will never be replaced, and as guardians we were honored to have them in our life. They will always have a place in our hearts.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” Author Unknown

Coming up June 16 is the 1st Annual RUFF RIDE Dice Run, a 100-mile scenic ride for bikes, hot-rods and motorcycles to benefit NAWS (Northland Animal Welfare Society) and raise funds to build a much-needed animal shelter for all Northland animals.
Please come out and show your support of our furry friends. For more information visit our web site at www.pcnaws.com or call (816) 830-7759.

Happy Father’s Day, and if you are thinking of getting a dog or cat…Adopt a Shelter Pet!

Goldie Arnold

“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Think maximum protection. Helmets, leathers, gloves, bandanas soaked in cold water for hot riding days.