Gilbert is an 8 week old black and white cockapoo. Today was his inauguration to my Harley Davidson. I've been planning it since I got him at 6 weeks but the girlfriend has been saying he's just too young. I've been riding around in the truck with this mewling infant dog beside me watching all the other riders out on the highway enjoying the fine Frazer Valley spring weather. Between the girlfriend coddling of the little fellow and my riding in a cage I was afraid that I'd soon develop a resentment to the dog I'd purchased from Deborah Mitchell on Whidbey Island. Naturally I'd wanted a Bull Mastiff but with the girlfriend already crowding me on the motorcycle I'd had to settle for a little critter. My Harley Owning Bull Mastiff owning friend, Ryan, hasn't taken his Bull Mastiff on his Harley yet and his dog's nearly a grandfather. Ryan's a lot younger and stronger than this old man and his motorcycle is bigger so if he wasn't going to take his Bull Mastiff on a Harley it wasn't likely I would either. Hence the cockapoo.
Now some people might call Gilbert a 'purse dog' but he's really a ferocious guard dog with a startlingly loud puppy bark that wakes me each day at 6 in the morning sharp. He also has sharp little piranha puppy teeth that he pulls my socks off with but could easily take off my toes if I let him. Cocker spaniels and poodles are both great hunting dogs. To see Gilbert with his rooster squeaky toy you'd know he was a terror for all vermin. And he flushes any kind of bird that lands in the backyard already. He's not big enough to take on pheasants yet but the sparrows are already wary.
So I was looking at him while the girlfriend was out of the way luxuriating in a bath and I thought it was a good time to sneak him off to the basement to get him acquainted with the Iron Stallion, my other friend, Harley. Harley was sure glad to see me but didn't know what to make of the furball.
Now knowing how the girls feel about introducing stunt riding to puppy's, she'd said something about his being ready in 3 or 4 months, I figured I'd better take suitable precautions from the start if only for the legal purpose of 'deniability' . It's my dog but given female hormones she's already assumed maternal perogatives. Normally, we'd just 'not tell mother'. But Gilbert's too young to lie convincingly..
He was wearing his orange and black Harley Davidson logo dog collar for the occasion. I'd like him to have one of the studded leather Harley Davidson dog collars but right no his whole body fits through them and they're so heavy he can't stand. I have a triumphant Roman emperor purple coloured harnass for him too. We took a lot of time getting him into that because he thinks it's a game and prefers to chew on clothing than wear it. Dressed finally, I slipped him into the over the shoulder Royal blue "Outward Hound" dog sling I have that has a hook to attached the harness too. He's kind of lost in the sling but it keeps him on the chest and frees my hands for the Harley.
With a pocket full of Ambrosia Bison Liver Bites I snuck quietly out of the apartment. I would have liked to have called a few television studios, maybe CBC, BBC, ABC and NBC but I didn't know how long she'd be in the bath so I was grabbing the window of opportunity. I'm just real sorry I've no pictures too. One day I'll have his dog album and look back and just have a blank page with a Harley Davidson logo and the inscription, "Gilbert's first ride."
It wasn't like he'd not been around Harley's. I'd taken him down to Trev Deely Motorcycles here in Vancouver and out to Barnes Harley on the freeway in Langley. I just put him in that sling and walked about waiting for guys to start their bikes or drive into the parking lot. That way he got use to the sound of motorcycle heaven. The other guys looked at me odd with my purse dog. But a few other guys in leathers and beards had their little dogs with them. So I told Gilbert to just look tough and he was doing really good till the Harley girls fawned all over him while I buying him a Motorcycle squeaky toy.
So now I sat on my black and white HOG with my great dog Gilbert in front of me in the sling resting on tank. I used one hand to insert the key in the ignition while with the other hand I fished for more liver treats from my pocket. With the bike in neutral, I made sure he was chowing down on treats when I turned on the ignition. It started first time. Amazing machine. Somehow knew this was a momentous occasion and a time to impress. Gilbert certainly was impressed. He stood straight up in his blue sling and studied that Harley with tilted head and the keenest interest. Of course I was telling him what a good dog he was and handing him more treats which he was hogging out on.
That was the first and major step. Didn't want to have a dog shied by the noise. So now with him hunting for treats in the sling I slipped the Harley into gear and made a little circle of the basement parking lot. Gilbert's ears were up and his eyes were alive with the rush. He looked back at me and I could tell he was thinking, "Dad, this is the real thing" and I was thinking, "You're right, Gilbert".
I only did one circle and then it was more treats. He seemed naturally awed by the occasion. I felt the same way when I first rode my Harley. One of those sacred moments.
Back in the apartment there was sounds of water draining from the tub and soon we were joined by Mom. Naturally Gilbert's smug look gave us away. He was giving me all that leaning against my ankle adoration of the alpha male and she was looking stern at the two of us. So I just had to tell her.
"Gilbert took his first ride on my Harley Davidson." And "he loved it."
His little tail got wagging at that and we didn't end up in the dog house together after all. She was all over him with treats and affection and now he's telling me telepathically he wants to get out on the open highway.
I'm however working up to that stage. I've got the designer dog gear pictures downloaded from zoomer.com and doggles.com and she's warming up to the idea that maybe when he has a dog helmut and doggles riding on the Harley with us will be just fine. She's a bit overprotective right now. But she didn't see his look when we started moving. I could see right then that he'd rather be a bike dog than one of those poor cage dog's that just gets to dangle it's head stupidly outside a car window. He's ready to ride motorcycles like Eagles. She's just going to take a little more smoozing to come around.
If only Harley made leather chaps and leather jackets for dogs. I think that would help bring her around. For now I'm checking out the cat pages because his head's too small for even the xtra small dog helmets and the strap of the smallest doggles would kind of have to go around his ass if it was to hold on in the windstream.