Think of a problem any problem. Someone somewhere will have found a solution or at least be working on one. The beauty of the Internet is that you can find those solved problems with a little canny armchair searching. My newly adopted dog, Marlowe, presented two immediate problems. He is very obedient but loves to race across fields towards the horizon, especially if he has spotted a grouse or a roe deer. When he’s far away, I whistle and call till I’m hoarse but, depending on the wind direction, he doesn’t always hear me, or pretends not to. The solution to this problem is simple: a whistle. More precisely, an Acme 211.5 dog whistle – recommended by all users as the most effective dog whistle around.
My other problem was combining dog walking and cycling. In the mornings, I’m faced with a choice: do I go cycling on my racing bike, then walk the dog, or the other way round; or do I take my mountain bike and dog, but stick to car-less tracks where he runs free. Most walking routes include bits of road, so I would fix his long lead to my handlebars and he would trot in front of me, often pulling me along like a horse and cart. But if he suddenly got distracted by potential prey in an adjoining field, another dog barking in a farm, or even the call of nature, causing him to veer to one side, he could easily pull me over and possibly injure both of us. Alternatively, if he suddenly stopped I would have to apply the brakes very sharply to avoid running over his paws. The latter nearly happened on more than one occasion.
The solution is the Trixie Biker Set, as seen in the picture above. Marlowe trots alongside the bike at a distance that avoids collisions, the spring allows for a certain amount of tugging away from the bike, only to tug him back, and a double lead with a Velcro strap means that if he really does wrench away towards the side of the road, the Velcro will release him and not pull me and the mountain bike into the ditch. This piece of kit has passed all the tests and is wonderful! I would never use it on a busy road with lots of traffic, but on remote country lanes where a car passes every now and then, it’s perfect. It also means that we can do more road routes together, rather than constantly doing the same country track routes. One just has to keep an eye on the dog to make sure he doesn’t doesn’t get exhausted, and stop for breaks every now and then.
I’ve never used my blog to endorse or promote a product before, so this is a first – and no, I’m not on a commission, or a freebie-for-review deal, though I should be, come to think of it. I’m just happy that someone, confronted by the same problem as me, sat down and worked out a solution. Also, I like the product on the completely irrational basis that my first dog, when I was a child, was called Trixie.
On a note of warning, it seems that a certain dog-and-bike-owner in England, when using – or rather misusing – precisely the same device on the British roads, was convicted of dangerous cycling and ended up with a £3000 legal bill. Click here to read his tale. A former policeman friend of mine assures me the cops were quite right to convict him, and if you read the story you’ll see why. Which is why the Trixie Biker Set is – as I said above – not for busy roads, and certainly not for use with a dog that veers round into the middle of the road and cannot stay on the cyclist’s near-side. But for my purposes, riding with Marlowe on relatively unfrequented country roads, it is a real boon.