All photo credits go to Andrea
The Springer is a spring-loaded arm that attaches to the seatpost of your ride, enabling you to bike with your pooch. I was speaking with Andrea (a friend of mine) a little while back about the Springer and she bought one for her bicycle. Now her and her German Shepherd Haley are hooked on it. She even mailed Bikehacks a great product write-up on how her and Haley roll.
As anyone with a highly active breed knows, giving your dog the quantity and quality of exercise they need is not an easy task. After a long day at work it’s easy for me to postpone my run for another day or find excuses to trim the minutes off Haley’s walks, but guilt over being a crappy dog owner always haunts me for the rest of the night.
I was complaining about this to Andrew at work one day, and was promptly introduced to a product called the Springer. The idea is that you can ride your bike (how fun is that?) and have your pup along (for necessary exercise). With a Springer you can keep both hands on the handlebars and know your dog is safe from cars as well as your chain, gears, and spinning pedals. I ordered a Springer online and attached it to my Surly Cross-Check. (A birthday gift from my husband who picked all the components and built it up for me himself. He let me pick the colors.)
I already had a harness for Haley to wear and since she tends to pull, I attached the rope from the Springer to the ring at the back of the harness. Haley is very energetic so we started out slow to give her time to adjust. In spite of being only about 50lbs, she was pulling me down the street.
She was pulling so much that the clamp that attaches the springer to the bike couldn’t hold tight enough and the whole arm would swing forward and get in the way of my pedal. My husband wired it for me so the springer can’t move now. Instead of running behind me and to the right, like the dogs on the Springer demo video, she runs right next to me and often pulls me up hills.
Once when we saw a cat, Haleys prey drive kicked in and she tried to run after it but since she was attached to the bike that’s stabilized by my weight, she was just running in place on the road and easily within my control the whole time, which is a huge perk. The Springer has helped her be less reactive to other dogs too. Since we usually just fly by them and the bike is between her and the dog, she can just run by instead of trying to kill them.
A few things to watch out for…
Riding on concrete and paved surfaces too much can be very hard on a dog’s footpads, especially when traveling at faster than jogging speeds. The friction causes the pads to wear down and develop sore spots that bleed. Going fast down hill is especially hard on the pads.
The best thing to do is ride on a trail or dirt road but in a pinch, riding on a sidewalk and having your pup run in the grass alongside works too. For now I just don’t go too fast and check her feet often.
When we come back from even a half- hour spring, Haley’s tongue is hanging out of her mouth and she actually sits down- proof of the great exercise she’s getting that can’t be touched by a half-hour stroll.
Thanks Andrea and Haley!