Saturday, 29 December 2018

Winter of Fun

Byker is still very young.  Barely 10 months, so I really do not do more than socialise him with the bike or any activity yet.  Instead, I still try to do that important thing to do with pups.  Have fun.

Today we had fun with the Staffies in Thetford Forest.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Check your gear

A good example of inappropriate dog activity equipment in this photo. Using a cheap carabiner clip suitable as not much than a keyring holder, to exercise three dogs at once, is not good idea.  this one is rapidly being bent apart by the force.

Here's a stronger screwgate carabiner on the bike:

Friday, 14 December 2018

Spirit of Wolfy

Above video.  11 years ago with Wolfy in Thetford Forest.

Below video, today, training Byker.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Line training with Byker

New gear day.  New canicross belt (the foam padded style that was popular years ago), new single towline, and even a running harness for Byker.  I'll have to do a bit more of this, canicross style line training just with Byker.  as he get's older, it's becoming more difficult to exercise the three dogs together:

Before anyone complains, yes I know that he's a young dog, and I'm certainly not thrashing him - I'm too out of condition for that to even be possible by Cani-X.  I hope to gradually get fitter, as he gets older and bigger.

But doesn't he look smart in his new rainbow running harness:

And it's not all work and training.  Because he's young, even during these sessions, I let him have a run around, and an explore, while practicing a little recall and basic training.  After all, that's the point of having a doggy dog like a pointer cross, rather than a siberian husky.  You can throw a stick for them, let them run around, and even expect them to safely recall.

So here he was today, having some fun with a er.. rather large staffie?  I'm sure that's what it was, but she was game for some fun with my little Kung Foo Fighter:

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Inspirational Bikejor and Dog Mushing Video

Byker's first bikejor

Just a short, gentle go infront of the bike today, on the line.  My socialisation with Byker to seeing me on the bike, has worked a treat so far.  He clearly now sees a bicycle as an asset.  He enjoys doing his Dalmatian heritage thing, running out in front of the bike off line, occasionally darting to the side to sniff or pee - then catching up (I really don't try to cycle fast), and overtaking.

After our training session today, I then took the Staff X's out for some recreational bikejoring fun:

Not a bad day's work.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Letting dogs be dogs

Just dog walking today, through the woods, all three dogs.  I notice that they all perk up when we reach forestry.  They love running through the undergrowth.  At one point I saw Byker reaching up, sniffing the air, he had a scent.  Other times it's tag - usually Byker hunting down Dixie or maybe Dollar if he fails to keep his distance.

A part of growing up, of developing that pup, is just letting it explore, have fun, be a dog.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Bikejor today

Grabbed the chance at a recreational bikejor today with the staffies, Dollar and Dixie.  Earlier though, I gave Byker another bicycle socialisation session:

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Dances with Deer

Awesome Youtube video where a small herd of red deer impact with a competitor team on a bikejor race.

Years ago with Wolfy and Belle, we were joring next to a tall fence when a large hind leapt over top of it - into our path.  She then ran in front of us for a hundred yards or so, before heading into a forestry compartment.  Amazing experience.

Monday, 19 November 2018

5 mile bikejor with the Staffs.

So then I took the Staffies out for a nice 5 mile bikejor...

Early training for bikejor

The bike socialising / training continues.  Byker is acting a little less shy of the bicycle.  I walk through suburban areas with him on a canicross belt, while pushing the bicycle - pulling brakes, making noises, etc.  Then when we reach a more rural cycling train, after a little while, I let him off line.  Then I'll mount the bike -let him see me that way, and gently cycle, meeting people, him meeting other dogs.  I want him to keep friendly, and non-aggresive, so that's also good.

I do also put him on the towline, and even mount the bike - just short stints of bikejoring.  I have to be careful not to let him encourage me to go further - he's too young.  His skeleton and limb joints still have to strengthen before I let him exert.

Right, now I'll take the two Staffies out on the bike!

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Introducing Byker ... to the Bike

I've started introducing Byker to the bicycle.  No, that doesn't mean that I'm thrashing the poor pup on the end of the towline.  I'm socialising him to the bike.  I had shown it to him as a tiny pup - and of course, he's seen hundreds of bikes up close, as we often walk on a local bike trail.  But he was a little reluctant, a little frightened - so I do have some work to do.

I'm mainly just walking and pushing the bike - sometimes though cycling slowly - getting him use to seeing me mounted on a bicycle.  I give him treats while I'm on the bike.

I took a few photos though, of my aspiring bikejor pup on the towline.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Raising Byker

I named him Byker, because that is one of the activities that I want to share with him in the future Bike-joring.

Socialisation starts early with my dogs.  I wanted him to experience as much as he could between eight weeks and sixteen weeks.  I want him to feel confident in the World - just as Wolfy always did.

He was eight weeks old when he first experienced car travel, public bus travel, and even "the City":

He saw the beach, and the sea at age 12 weeks, and again at age 15 weeks.  At age 14 weeks, he experienced wading in the shallows of a river:

We frequently visited parks around Norwich in those early weeks, where he could encounter other dogs, kids playing, skateboards, scooters, etc.

Here he is above, age 14 weeks at Eaton Park, Norwich.  He encountered woods, green lanes, forests, the City, towns, the beach, the seaside, parks, pubs, rivers, cars, buses, bicycles, other dogs, visiting family houses, country shows, livestock, and much more - before 18 weeks.  His early brain was imprinted with a familiarity of our world.  After all, I want a dog that'll be comfortable in Forest as much as in City.  I want a bikejorer, a hiking companion, and a dog that I can also throw a ball for.  A super dog.

First stage of training a bikejoring dog from puppyhood

Has nothing to do with bikes, or mushing.  It has to do with play, education, and bonding.

Meet Byker

Byker, age eight weeks
I've wanted a pointer-type, or a pointer cross, for as many years as I've known about bikejoring.  Back in 2008/9, I was reading of a very different approach to bikejoring, outside of the UK.  Here, the entire mushing scene, including bikejoring and dog-scootering, was still controlled by Siberian Husky, Malamute, and other Northern Breed dog clubs, that promoted sleddog racing, only by KC registered pedigree sleddog breeds.  However, I was aware that on the Continent, and indeed elsewhere, husky-types were being very much out competed by pointer and eurohound types.  It seemed to me, that in the temperate climate of Southern England, pointers and other hounds would excel.  Some racing strains in Scandinavia and nearby, reputed to include Alaskan Husky mixes, and some breeds of local European pointers and hunting dogs, were now being referred to as Eurohounds. Although selected entirely on mushing prowess, they looked far more pointer-like, than husky-like, and were often referred to, simply as hounds, as opposed to huskies.

I'm not a racer.  I'm a recreational bikejorer, although in 2008, I was approached and asked if I would consider racing in a British team on the Continent.  The canicross organisation that asked me, actually didn't know of any other people keen on bikejoring at that time.

Step into 2018, and things have progressed.  The UK bikejor scene, although still dominated by northern breed / sleddog breed mushing clubs, is slowly catching up.  Bikejor racing has now entered the UK, and it's breaking free of the grip of traditional sleddog racing clubs.  I'll post more on this in the future, but while in 2006-2010, there were very few of us bikejoring in Britain, now in 2018 there are organised groups, races, and some very good competitors.

Stepping back to 2008, the nearest thing that I could get to a pointer-type, was my lovely dog Belle, a rather small, liver spotted dalmatian.  She was (and still is) a lovely dog, now living with family.  But, she was a much better dog running offline, or on the side of a bicycle.  She LOVED the springer dog and walky dog attachments:

Wolfy was PTS last year, suffering from a tumour.  It broke my heart.  He had been the dog of my life.  We had been separated for several years, but I was always in touch.  I was able to take him on some awesome, but sentimental walks following the diagnosis of his tumour.  I took him to some of our old spots in Thetford Forest:

He lives on in my memories.

Now 2018, I'm living in Norwich with the two staffies.  I'm at that stage, when I want a Wolfy II.

Then Tracey shows me a photo of some puppies that needed a home.  They had been hand reared, as their mother died in labour, on the way to their vet.  Their mother had been a Dalmatian.  Their father, a German Short-haired Pointer.  They were a result of an accidental breeding.  When Tracey showed me their photos, she passed me the phone.  They were located in the East Midlands, but would you know it - I knew the person looking after them.  She had been a canicross friend back ten years ago.  She was looking for active houses to take the pups.

Byker, entered our pack.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Bikejoring with the Staffies

Recreational bikejor

So, I wonder, could I introduce our little canicross dogs to bikejoring next?  After all, I had dug up an old 2 dog line and a pair of harnesses that fit them.  All I needed was a bikejor antenna.  The fitting that allows you to suspend a tow-line from the dogs to the bicycle, clear of tangling in the front wheel.  Now, when I use to bikejor 10 - 12 years ago, finding a commercially made bikejor antenna was pretty difficult.  For the first few years I improvised with a home made effort involving a section of plastic tubing.  When I did eventually buy an antenna, it was from a guy in the Netherlands, that took forever to deliver following payment, and I think, he was losing interest in the business:

The Dutch bikejor antenna that I was using in 2008
Only in 2017, I found that there were several different models of bikejor antenna available for sale on the Internet!  So, I bought one, and I gave it a go:

They had fun.  Okay, these two particular staffie crosses are possibly not going to win any bikejor races.  It's strictly leisure bikejor for them.  See the a little of the excessively long video at the top of this post.  13 miles at a snail pace - but they are living.  After several leisurely bikejors, they get excited when they see the bicycle being wheeled out.

Now ... I wonder what about that pointer-cross that I've dreamt about being human to, what if such a dog were to come into my life?  Next post - an introduction to my bikejor project, Byker.

A pair of staffie crosses (and their human)

Tracey, Dixie, and Dollar

I ran away from the Fens, and I ran back to my beloved home county of Norfolk. For a year I was once again, dogless.  I couldn't keep up the running.  I realised that I can't run without dogs.  I had to join a gym, but it's really not the same.  You see, I consider myself a biophilliac.  I really get a kick being outside, out in Nature, with dogs.

I met Tracey.  Two dogs lived with Tracey.  Two Staffordshire Bull Terrier crosses.  They wanted another human and got me.

Look at them sitting there.  I could give these dogs some new experiences.  Take them out of the ball park so to speak.  And I have.  I moved in.  Okay, I wasn't really a Staffie person.  But I am a Dog person, very much so.  I introduced them, and Tracey, to canicross.

Now ... as I said in my last post, although I had been training canicross on and in recent years, I hadn't really been free to explore the organised canicross world since 2010.

Me and Wolfy at Cannock Cross meet in 2008

Back then, almost all of the Canicross meets / races were being organised by a business based in Western England.  Some independents groups were just emerging, but there were NO meets or races for Canicross anywhere near East Anglia.  It was still very much a new sport and recreation.  A little better known and more popular than bikejoring, but not well known.

Now, ten years later .... as Tracey was to find out when she looked on Facebook, there were runs, training sessions, groups, park runs, for canicross ALL OVER EAST ANGLIA!  I really didn't know how Canicross had taken off in the UK over the past ten years.  Result.  There were even regular winter fun runs organised in a woods a few miles from where our pack lives, wow!  I use to have to travel to Staffordshire, Wales, Kent, and Yorkshire for the closest organised canicross competitions with Wolfy and Belle.

Wolfy and myself at Paws in the Park, Kent, 2008

So, in 2017, I entered my first organised cani-cross run in many years, and only had a ten minute car drive to get there.  I ran with Dollar, and Tracey with Dixie.

Horsford Woods, Norwich 2017

Only problem was that I wasn't ready.  I sustained a knee injury that took me out the rest of the season.  Tracey carried on for another three canicross meets across Norfolk.  But then she also suffered an injury.  Much worse than mine - she broke a bone.  This cani-cross lark needs preparation and training or can be a bit dangerous.

Next post - returning to recreational bikejoring, first with the staffs...

Fen Runner

Video of my Fenland companion, Flint - fitted with Go Pro.

Wolfy suffered a nasty, and permanent limb injury.  He received surgery, but he was never going to run again.  My personal life also took a sharp turn, that left me separated from my dogs - Wolfy (Siberian Husky), and Belle (Dalmatian).  I left the Thetford Forest area in 2010, shortly after declaring on that post, that I was going to revive this Bikejoring Blog.  I apologise for my sudden departure from this blog, all those years ago, but I'm back now.  I appreciate the comments on that 2010 post.  Thank you.
I moved from the Thetford Forest area, to the English Fens of Cambridgeshire.  At first, I had a sibe in the house, that I could sometimes run with.  Then she went.  For a few years I was dogless.  Then I got this chap:

His name was Flint, and he was a Saluki Lurcher cross. Fantastic dog to run off line - he would leap over wide Fenland ditches as though they weren't there. Hence the above video.

My life at that time prevented me from re-engaging with the national scene, or from attending any canicross meets.  However, once he was mature enough, we started canicross training in the Fens for fitness only.  I think that kept my sanity at that time - just.

In time, the team was joined by a second dog:

This fellah, a whippet named Loki.  So now we were a pack of three again.  We had a regular running route - but as usual, tried to break it up with changes in pattern, and the occasional getting lost on Fenland farmland, trying to find a way out before a farmer saw us.

Bike-joring was kind of out of the question. Life was very restrictive during this period of my life, and I really didn't have easy access to any land where I could comfortably bike out to with dogs on line.  So we ran.  Flint the lurcher was to be honest, an awful cani-cross dog.  He wanted to sniff and scent every post, every stone, every tree (not that there were many of them in the Cambridgeshire Fens.  However, Loki the whippet loved the activity, a natural.  I got really fit again.  Shed a lot of poundage.  It was time for me to run and rediscover my freedoms.  Unfortunately ... this meant leaving yet another pair of dogs behind me.  But I had to go.

So endeth my six year period in the wilderness of the North Cambridgeshire Fens.

Eight years on - time to resurrect the Bikejoring Blog

RIP Wolfy
What happened?  An eight year gap in posting.  I initially launched this blog, what, 2006/7?  At that time, very few people had even heard of Bikejoring.  Certainly not in the UK.
Well this time, I'm really back.

What happened?  My personal life changed.  I became separated from my dogs.  My bikejoring trail hit a long rocky, bumpy patch.  I have so much to catch up on here.  So much to catch up on life with dogs.

And the bike-joring, canicross, and cani-trekking is recommencing.   I have so much to write about now.