I can not imagine life without one. I grew up with them,” said Martha when asked why she got a terrier. “It’s a challenging breed. Terriers are smart as hell, and have great personalities but can be stubborn and are always up to mischief…which keeps it interesting. Beyond that I knew this dog was a non-shedding, high endurance, outdoor hunting dog so pretty well designed to travel long distances outside, and are small enough to put in the car easily. They are often a breed that are given up by families as young adults as they are super cute but are a really tough breed to own if you are not prepared for the personality…so often you find them at shelters.”

Equally, Sherry felt that her family life was incomplete after the death of their family dog. With two toddler girls at home, a dog offers protection while the girls play in the backyard. At the same time teaching them about respecting animals. Sherry’s family decided on a non-shedding dog that was agile, and good on the trails. They didn’t purely get him to ride with them, but they did make sure he would be a perfect fit in their avid mountain biking lifestyle.

Whatever the reason for owning one, it remains a solid fact that dogs are pure fun. They’re loveable, furry, and dare I say, are more apt to run trails than cats. They unconditionally love you and make the best mountain bike partners and roomies. With the ability to take hip jumps better than most of us and watching them have a ‘fantastically’ happy time on the trails make dogs ‘The King of Steeze’.

They’re our friends for life. But, as owners we need to think about their health and safety as we ride with them. Just because they’re dogs, and have seemingly infinite energy and paws for traction, it doesn’t mean we should run them hard or take them down big lines. We need to be smart and give time for them to develop and strengthen joints and muscles. Gradually increasing the length and difficulty of trails. And don’t forget dogs mature more quickly than humans.

I followed a few pups through the trails, hootin’ and hollerin’, and had such a fun time with them. Meet my new canine friends with big personalities. Big belly rubs to you all:

Quin: My name is Algonquin (Quin for short) and my owner is Martha.
Breed: Wire Haired Fox Terrier, just like Snowy (Milou) from Tin Tin!
Age: Five

Spencer: My name is Spencer and my owner is Karaleen.
Breed: I’m a black Lab.
Age: I’m two but I’m a Lab so will likely never grow up.

Merle: My name is Merle and my owner is Sherry.
Breed: I’m an Aussie Shepherd/Border Collie/Poodle, but it’s cool if you want to call me a mutt.
Age: I just turned two on April 5.

Cadence: My owner, Andrea, calls me Cadence (like the cycling cadence) or Cady for short.
Breed: I am a very playful yellow Labrador Retriever
Age: I am a year and a half.

MTB4Her: So how long have you been mountain biking?
Quin: I don’t bike…but I have loved chasing them for the past four years.
Merle: I’ve been invited out on rides since I was a mere one year old to be sure my joints would be okay. So a solid year now.
Spencer: I’ve been hiking since a pup, learning the trails and riding since 1 year old.

MTB4Her: What’s your favourite Snack?
Quin: Whatever mom has in her pocket. But, cheese is the best.
Merle: Freeze dried liver snacks…..mmmmmmm…..drool, woof.
Spencer: I eat wood, so pretty much anything is yummy.
Cady: Uh…I’m a Lab. Does that answer your question? But probably my bone, yeah, my bone on a nice sunny day. Just me and my bone on the grass… <sigh> that’s doggy heaven to me.

MTB4Her: Do you listen to your master on the trails or do you like to sniff out squirrels?
Quin: I listen…most of the time, but sometimes I see other people and dogs and like to go say hello.
Merle: I listen pretty well, but I do get distracted by fantastic, giant sticks!
Spencer: Squirrels are interesting but I’d rather stick with the rider down the trail.
Cady: When my human is biking it’s just us and the trail. I never like to be left behind. I rarely venture off trail unless they’re resting. If we stop, I find a stick or something to dig up but I’m always ready because what if they left really fast!? I have to stay ready for running fast. It’s SO EXCITING!!

MTB4Her: Come on, give it to me straight. Who’s faster? You or your owner?
Quin: It really depends on the trail. When mom can let it out on the trail I have a tough time keeping on her tail. I know to keep out of her way ,but on the up trails, I generally trot in front.
Merle: Me by far. I run at Mach chicken speed!
Spencer: Definitely me!
Cady: Just when I think I’m the fastest in the pack their super power kicks in and I’m in awe of my humans… It makes me listen to them even more at home because they’re SO FAST!!

MTB4Her: Who’s better on skinnies – you or your owner?
Quin: Oh me, definitely me. I’ll take the skinnies even when mom doesn’t.
Merle: My owner. Ladder bridges are my nemesis.
Spencer: Me, for sure. I search out every log ride and skinny plank.
Cady: My owners are really good – even my 9-year-old owner – but they hold me back a lot. I don’t really understand why they go so slow on skinnies and make me go behind them.

MTB4Her: You guys look like you’re day-dreaming half the time. You get lost often don’t you?
Quin: Oh yea! I love getting lost! But the truth is I am never really lost. I have just found another person on a bike. I always seem to find my way home…but mom never seems to be super stoked about it. It’s just when I realize we are headed home I sometimes try to sneak a few more laps with the other bikes. I don’t do that very often…but everyone is just so friendly and all I want to do is chase bikes forever!
Merle: Nope, my nose can always sniff out my master and her whistle echoes through the trees.
Cady: Lost? Never. My husky friend told me about it so I never want to do that!
MTB4Her: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve eaten on the trail as a snack?
Quin: I’m not sure! I eat anything my mom gives me – I trust her to give me good things.
Merle: Deer poop looks remarkably like kibble and tastes soooooooo good!!!!
Spencer: It’s rather embarrassing. I’d rather not talk about it. So wood, let’s say wood.
Cady: Coho salmon. Definitely salmon.

MTB4Her: Have you ever had a sports injury?
Quin: No injuries! I am pretty agile and small so the impact is low and I fly over and under all the hazards. But my mom’s had 5 knee surgeries so I have learned how to take life slow when she is on crutches.
Merle: Luckily, only a few stitches in a paw from cutting it on a rock.
Spencer: Thankfully, no. My masters don’t let me hit the big lines.
Cady: ‘Yip!’ I got super sore once.

MTB4Her: You gotta have a favourite après-ride activity. Do tell.
Quin: I lay in the sun in the backyard with mom while she cleans her bike and chills in the grass with me.
Merle: Licking myself and falling asleep in a contorted position in front of a warm fire.
Spencer: Snuggling on the couch with mom and dad.
Cady: I like digging a dirt hole under the hedge and taking a long cool nap!

MTB4Her: In two sentences or less…describe yourself.
Merle: Not to boast or anything, but I’m a pretty amazing dog. My owners take me wherever they go and their two daughters constantly give me love and attention. I’m a family-oriented pup who just adores the pack and protects my loved ones.
Quin: I’m smart and a thief. I found some organic salmon treats in the author’s camera bag. Even though they were in a thick, heavy plastic baggie I sniffed them out and took off with my loot up the hill where I knew they couldn’t chase me down fast. That gave me enough time to gulp them down.
Cady: PLAYFUL – ALL – THE – TIME!!! Even after a ride I still want to play. I feel the most alive when I get to catch my Frisbee. I’ll do anything to get my Frisbee.

Woof!

Author Bio

Cécile Gambin is a freelance action and portrait photographer living in North Vancouver, BC. Honing her skills from riding all sorts of bikes, her photographs are a fusion of Fine Art and Action to create vivid, exciting and engaging images. Her work has been featured in exhibitions, and has been published in national magazines. For more of Cécile’s work please visit www.cecilegambin.com