Monday May 22nd 2023
Warning! This post is for folk who have struggled with dog training or who don’t mind dogs. If you do please look away now?
Some of you will recall the calamitous attempts in Italy and Croatia last year to introduce Bryn to the delights of being towed behind my bike in a dog trailer we call the chariot?
I had just assumed that Bryn would naturally take to being put into the chariot and enjoy being with us as we went off to explore further afield than we could by walking; but no! He didn’t. in fact he made sure that everyone knew how unhappy he was by howling like a siren. It seemed that with every pedal stroke he would holler that bit higher and that bit louder to the point where I just couldn’t take him in the chariot any more, so he and I stayed behind and let the others go off on their own
This time, we knew from our research that our trip has the potential for some good rides, trails along rivers and through forests and Wendy is itching to use her new bike so Bryn will have to come with us. Something has to be done!
Three weeks before we were due to leave we got the chariot out of the shed and put it up in the kitchen without its wheels on. Bryn gave it a wide berth – he treated it with the same trepidation that he reserves for the arrival of the vacuum cleaner. Over the next fortnight we managed to get him used to eating his food in it and jumping in and and out on command. The next week we introduced the wheels and attached it to my bike to make it more stable. He got used to this in the back garden, but when I moved it to the front, we had to start again. By the time we left for France he had only been in the chariot while I pushed it up and down the drive – still we can carry on the training on tour.
It wasn’t until we got to Étretat that the weather was good enough for us to get the chariot out and, just like moving it from the kitchen to the garden or from the garden to the drive, we had to start again persuading him to jump in. Then it was time to pedal. Étretat campsite’s roads were very quiet as it was completely full with camper vans so there was little movement; ideal for our first tentative journey. It was a success! Bryn didn’t try to jump out (he was clipped in just in case) and he was only showing mild anxiety – a bit of panting.
By the time we left Étretat he could manage a couple of minutes and I was ecstatic! No howling, no wailing, just a bit of mild panting; this is going to work – isn’t it?
Indeed it is working. Our next stop was Caudebec-en-Caux, a charming campsite squeezed between the mighty river Seine and steep limestone cliffs, halfway between Le Havre and Rouen. The Seine cycle route runs right passed the campsite, so we were able to extend the journeys, to 20 minutes or so.
Today, Monday, we have moved on to Jumiège, further up the Seine and have just completed a 15 km route around the village, 2 ½ hours in the chariot and not a murmur from the dog, but that panting makes him thirsty. He drank more than me and I was doing all the work.
With a bit more practice, I am sure he would love to cycle down the Loire with me, but I’ll have to work on Wendy now!