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The Bike and Brunch Newsletter

The Truth About Bikes and Dogs

The truth is, there have been reports of dogs riding bikes (with the help of training wheels). But it's often advisable to keep the two (bikes and dogs) at arms length.

In previous summers, some B&B riders have been accosted by dogs en route. Although no flesh was torn, and no rabies found, the riders' recollections of the events indicate a high level of trauma.

If you encounter a dog while riding a bike (you, not the dog), conventional wisdom might suggest:

1. Ride in the opposite direction of the dog.

2. Remember, the K-9 has four legs; you only have two wheels. The four-legged animal can outrun you, but not outthink you.

3. Always keep the bike between yourself and the dog.

4. Don't wear red. The dog may think you're a toreador, and that the rolling hills of Poolsville are Palermo, Spain!

In addition to conventional wisdom, B&B posed the dog question to the participants of the biking newsgroup, rec.bicycles.ride. There were as many responses as there are canine breeds.

For every rider that recommended yelling the word NO in a loud authoritative voice to startle the dog, an equal number of people rejected the vocal defense. What will work to startle the dog will also startle other riders.

For every rider that sanctioned the use of pepper spray to distract attacking (or threateningly barking dogs), an equal number of people rejected the pepper spray defense on the grounds that it backfired.

The decided winner was the aqua defense, converting the innocent water bottle into a weapon of self-defense by squirting the dog with water. At the least, this causes the dog to swerve out of the rider's way, just stop attacking, and in many cases head for the hills. Bath time can be a bitch!

The single response that got everyone's attention was yelling at the dog, "Get off the couch!" When it does actually work, the dog's puzzled look is said to be priceless. If a dog is barking, it can't be gnawing at your leg. Fortunately, in most cases "a dog's bark is worse than his bite".