Editor’s Note: Steve is a Creative Developer at SAY Media and Rudy is his trusty sidekick. After we saw them arriving together, we asked Steve to write about his commute.
Anyone who works in a dog-friendly office can attest to the lighthearted atmosphere it brings, as well as the therapeutic value of having a furry critter come up and press a little wet nose into your hand, seemingly right on cue in the middle of a crappy day.
Here at the SAY Media office in San Francisco (home of Dogster HQ), the dogs are part of the family, and many of the staff would argue that their presence is as important as that of any of the humans they enjoy visiting with each day.
Bringing your dog to work, especially in a big city where parking is a commodity more highly coveted than tickets to San Francisco Giants playoff games, can require a bit of creative planning. Lots of us leave our cars at home (those of us who even own cars, that is) in favor of alternate commuting means.
Whether you can get away with bringing your dog on public transportation depends on several factors, not the least of which is your regard for the law. And finding a taxi at any time of day can be extremely frustrating.
For me, the answer is on two wheels. For more than 20 years, one of my passions has been riding scooters and motorcycles, and I’ve recently rekindled my love of the pedal-powered bicycle as well. I’m lucky enough to live just three miles from our office, which would also be an easy walk were I not usually running late.
Fortunately Rudy, my nine-year-old Chihuahua, enjoys the two-wheeled commute as much as I do. With a little bit of creative planning and some consistent training, I’ve come up with a few ways for Rudy to ride with me.
Rudy has always been very comfortable around motorcycles. He’s also great in the car and in situations with a lot of stimulation. Before I ever took him for a ride, I was 100 percent sure that he wouldn’t get spooked, and there wouldn’t be any surprises.
Since those early days, we’ve figured out what works for both of us in terms of comfort and safety, and our rides together are always fun. Here are a few of the bikes that Rudy rides with me and the ways I carry him on each.
Vintage Vespas were my first two-wheeled love, back when I was in high school. I’ve owned more than 20 Vespa and Lambretta scooters so far.
When I first decided to bring Rudy in to my hobby, it was on one of my scooters. Our first rides were on my Vespa with Rudy riding in a shoulder bag, which was designed for small dogs. The biggest problem I had was him constantly figuring out how to escape the bag to try to curl up in my lap.
After some trial and error (and training), I’ve found that the bag that works best for my dog is a simple Israeli Paratrooper bag I got at an army surplus store in Seattle.
The bag is just the right depth for Rudy to sit down in while still being able to stick his head out the top. Rudy insists on hanging an arm out, and the height works for that. The outer flap attaches to the front via a single hook, which lets the bag hold Rudy snugly while still letting him see what’s going on.
Instead of open space in front of me as with the Vespa, there’s a gas tank on the motorcycle. Balancing Rudy in his bag on the tank would be too distracting and would give him too much room to fidget. Instead, I decided to give Rudy his own seat.
My bike is fitted with a Givi top case, which mounts to a standard bracket on the frame. One day, I broke the latch, rendering it pretty useless, so I ordered a new case. Not wanting to waste the old one, I cut the top off of it and bolted in a top-loading dog carrier.
This gave me a nice secure crate for Rudy to ride in, which I can easily swap on and off my bike. Rudy loves riding in this crate! There’s a small hole in the top that he can stick his head through, but there’s also enough protection from the wind that I often check behind me to find that he’s curled up and gone to sleep.
Finally, for the days when we prefer pedals to pistons, I purchased this Novara pannier, which is the perfect size for Rudy to cruise in. The bottom of the pannier is a solid piece of plastic, creating a flat and stable floor. I usually put a towel in there for him to have something soft to sit on as well.
Rudy loves sticking his head out to catch the wind, and he always gets plenty of pets from other bicyclists when we’re stopped at a light. Rudy has never shown any tendency to bail while we’ve been riding, so I don’t leash him to the pannier.
In devising these, the most important factors have always been safety and my confidence in Rudy’s training. It’s important to know your dog’s disposition very, very well before evaluating whether he should be a road dog.
Do you take your dog for two-wheeled rides? What ways do you have to keep your pet secure and safe, and how does he or she like it?