Yesterday, my wife and I took our two dogs, Jake and Iggy, on a ride to McCarren Park (you know, where they used to do all those awesome pool parties
, before the city got all stuffy on us) in the heart of the super hip Williamsburg area to hang out in the copious fields and hit the dog run. For once in my life, I had a day off where I had absolutely nothing to do, so we decided to capitalize on it.
Though we're definitely closer to Prospect Park, being in Crown Heights, there are a ton of positively fascist constraints on when and where one can let a dog off the leash. In Prospect, which is only about a mile from our apartment, there are no fenced-in runs, and dogs can only be off the leash after 9 p.m. — when we'd defenitely lose little Iggy in the dark (he's a red and brown nine-pound Brussels griffon and Chihuahua mixture, we think! He's a rescue). So anyway, how did we get the dogs to the park on our bikes, you ask?
It's called dogs in bags! Our Jack Russell, Jake, actually loves being in this bag more than he loves walking (or so we like to say). When I bring my standard black backpack out (which comes with me every time I bike and is filled with various tools for bike repair, etc.), he comes over quite calmly and sits by it, wanting to climb inside.
Similarly, when we get to wherever we're going, Jake doesn't like to get out, and sometimes we have to literally drag him from the bag! This may have to do with the fact that Jake is about 7.5 years old whereas Iggy, who squirms in the bag, is only a 10-month-old puppy (he's in the top photo). Even though he is a little more fidgety, he is lighter, so my wife takes him in a leather shoulder bag. Most people think that we are absolutely nuts for doing this, but if you want to be mobile with your dogs, you've got to give this a try.
The most important thing is to get a bag that fits the dog snugly but is neither too big nor too tight (obviously, right?). We've found that Jake likes to feel safe and snug but with a little wiggle room (he's about 17 pounds). We had the forethought to get our pups used to being in bags for biking from a very young age, but if you're trying to get an older dog to learn a new trick, try just walking around the block with them on your back and getting them used to the whole idea for a little. It's much easier to catch them if they try to escape (which they defenitely will, at first) when you're walking and not trying to maneuver through deadly Brooklyn traffic on a bike. Like I said, Iggy still takes a little time to calm down from squirmy town, which usually happens once he feels the wind in his hair.
That's the other thing — ever seen a dog happy in a car window? It will be a thousand times happier right next to your head with the open air of a bike. Jake likes to lick me when he wants to go faster. (I'm not crazy, really — he actually does these things!) Also, another trick to "dogs in bags" is putting something familiar in the bag like a blanket they sleep with, or enticing them with treats once they stop squirming. Above all, don't force the issue — it may take weeks of trying it out around the block for them to really enjoy it. Remember, in the long run, baby steps will get you further.
So, I hope that helps everyone bummed out by the fact that they can't bring their pooch with them on a ride. It's a simple idea in theory, but quite daunting in practice. I can't tell you how many times we've been riding and stop at a light and someone in a car says something like, "They actually stay in the bags!?"
Miles today: 10 miles, plus one dog on the back = feels like 11 miles, to and from McCarren Park.
Democratic quote to battle New York Park fascism: "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." —John F. Kennedy
Photos: Candice Cooper