Biking with Puppy - Kyleen
Kyleen commutes by bicycle every day to her medical residency in Klamath Falls, Oregon. When she's not commuting, her partner Josh and their rescue puppy Oliver join her on the mountain bike trails. But just how tricky is it, to cycle next to an Australian shepherd while flying downhill? Pretty tricky, as it turns out.
"We got our dog, Oliver, from the Seattle Animal Shelter when he was a year old."
Tell us about your dog!
My partner Josh and I got our dog, Oliver, from the Seattle Animal Shelter when he was a year old. He’s part Australian shepherd, so we knew we were going to have our hands full trying to manage his energy levels, but thought we’d be up for the task. We both wanted a dog we could take on our mountain bike adventures.
"We knew we were going to have our hands full trying to manage his energy levels..."
How does he join you for bike rides?
Being a rescue, he’s got his quirks, but he’s clever and learned how to run alongside our bikes within 1-2 rides. It took a lot of patience, and is a continuous process - he’s still got room for improvement. It’s interesting to watch Oliver's herding instincts come into play. He barks hysterically at the beginning of rides, a combo of uncontainable excitement and an effort to make everyone get going already! Oliver will also herd the group - running between the leader and those in back, barking at their heels to make sure they aren’t getting left behind!
Wow! That sounds a little scary as a cyclist.
Oh man, we appreciate our friends that put up with him on these rides, because I really think it’s Oliver’s favorite thing in the world and I love taking him along. It’s one of my favorite parts of mountain biking now, watching him sprint with the bikes.
"I really think it’s Oliver’s favorite thing in the world and I love taking him along."
That being said, it’s important to balance the joy of riding with my dog, his need for LOTS of exercise, and the safety of other riders. We prefer to take him on trails that are more remote, or have one-way traffic. We use an electronic collar to make sure he doesn’t roam too far or harass other riders - some people are intimidated by dogs and don’t want them to get too close. Also, we have to make sure he stays safe. If there aren’t frequent streams for him to stay hydrated, we bring extra water.
Did anything else surprise you about riding with your dog?
We learned the hard way to be mindful of the terrain. He had no problem biking 20+ miles with us in the Seattle area, so when we got to Klamath Falls we took him out for a 10 mile ride without hesitation. By mile 9, he just plopped down. We thought he was hot or tired, but quickly discovered his paws had been torn on the sharp rocks. He was used to the softer, forested trails west of the cascades. He couldn’t walk for 2 days - I felt so bad! After that, we went slowly to help him build calluses.
"We thought he was hot or tired, but quickly discovered his paws had been torn on the sharp rocks...He couldn’t walk for 2 days - I felt so bad!