So my dog Huar Huar is a special sort of dog. First off, he's got a clear case of 'little man syndrome' in that despite his teeny tiny cutesy size he fully challenges larger dogs such as rottweilers and huskies with delusions of grandeur and determination for a fight he is not fated to win. Always. He has gotten better, and will sometimes even completely ignore other dogs at the park. Unless they come my way, then they must be destroyed.
Secondly, he's old. A grumpy kind of old. He is, we think, around 14 years old but still looks and has the agility of a limitless puppy - with the disposition of a grumpy old Chinese general. He may be cute, but he's got a dark side.
And that's the third thing - he's Chinese. Like, actually Chinese. We got him from a street market in China back in 2002 and the 6 month quarantine to bring him over to the UK six years ago gave him PTSD - this dog has issues.
But we love him, our ridiculous Huar Huar. We couldn't leave him behind...
Plus, he seemed to like the basket.
So there we were, cycling away through the forest – the bikes and trailers finally worn in to the point that it no longer posed a significant maiming danger to our children. Huar Huar was running beside me, pausing here and there to dash gleefully into the woods like a miniature deer, bounding through the ferns to emerge again beside me on the path. We kept on, being relentlessly driven by my whip-cracking daughter Kaitie, determined that we were ‘winning the race’ despite my insistence that this was most certainly not a race and that mummy’s entire body would revolt if I were to keep pedaling at this ridiculous speed.
Huar Huar started to lag a bit, and was now running beside Kaitie. Still with a look of idiotic glee as he bounded about along the road, deftly dodging our bicycle wheels like a pro.
Then he started to run beside Paul, then Lochie, then Lochie nearly fell off her bike twisting around to look for Huar Huar, who had given up and sat in the middle of the road behind us, panting and valiantly insisting that we go on without him.
It was time for the basket.
We struggled. Getting Huar Huar into the bike basket was a two person job, one to hold the bike still and make soothing baby-babble noises (who’s got your basket? Who’s got your basket?) like a pack of senile old women and the other to grip all four of his paws and lower him in butt-first while avoiding his teeth.
The dog was in the basket – and he seemed to like it. Well, he wasn’t jumping out, so that was a good sign. He tried to sit up and we coaxed (pushed) him back down. The kids were yelling at us from behind – they wanted to go! There was a squirrel ahead that needed catching up to. We looked again at Huar Huar in the basket – he did seem happy. He also seemed very tired, which would probably work out well in our favor as hopefully the breeze and exhaustion would keep him in the basket. I gave the bike a bit of a turbulent shake. He didn’t seem to mind. A bit more of a violent shake, he was still in there. I gave the bike a really violent shake – he was fine but Kaitie was pissed, I’d shaken her right off her bike.
(that kid’s got quite the glare worked out)
It was now or never, we were ready to give this a try. Murmuring encouragement to both Huar Huar and Kaitie I took off, wondering to myself how my mountain bike had turned into a family vehicle that now sat three. It was working, this was not so bad! Granted, Huar Huar on the handlebars was quite a bit heavier than I had anticipated and the first turn I attempted grazed a tree, from a starting point of about three meters away. No matter, Kaitie is used to it and got her hand and leg out of the way in time, though we did blow off one of her training wheels (which Paul went fumbling through the woods to then recover). No matter. We’re good!
Another mile or so and I had really gotten the hang of this – we passed other families in awe now not only of our awesome toddler bike trailer contraptions but now the ‘sweet little puppy in the basket’. Little, yes. Sweet, not so much.
Twice Huar Huar saw another dog and sat up in the basket to get a better look. I pulled him back down by his collar each time with one hand while failing to steer straight with the other, nearly plowing down other families and trailblazing into the forest very much to Kaitie’s dismay and the entertainment of many strangers. But we were good – this was fun. Paul was keeping a close eye on us but there wasn’t much he could do other than shouts of encouragement and to ‘look out for that tree’.
We were good – cycling along for another mile or so alongside our friends – a 9 month pregnant woman on a mountain bike pulling her 4 year old son and all of our picnic gear in a trailer. We’d already arranged with the bike rental staff at the park that should she give birth on the trail that the baby would get free forest Segway adventure rides for life, so it was okay. Things were going great, Kaitie was so far enjoying her first bike ride that didn’t break any skin and Huar Huar was chilled out in my basket, my lungs were screaming and thighs burning – and then we came upon a family with a beautiful tall white Husky.
Huar Huar wanted that Husky.
It was one of those moments in life when time seemed to slow down. The Husky came into view and Huar Huar’s ears perked up in attention. He sat up and I heard myself start to form the word ‘noooooo’. He wanted that Husky – his bum started ‘the wiggle’ in the basket and I reached for his collar, veering violently to the left as I did. The family walking the Husky looked up, hearing my cry and our bikes swerve against the gravel. Huar Huar lept, in a single fluid movement, out of the basket and toward the great Husky directly in front of my bicycle. In his mind, he thought he looked like this:
But reality was much more like this:
My kamikaze shihtsu burst out of the basket and hit the ground rolling with the speed at which we were already travelling. Screams erupted from all around – the family with the Husky, Kaitie, Paul, Lochie, other strangers along the path and me – as I ran over my own dog with my front tire. He rolled out, dazed but determined – he still wanted that Husky. With a jerking twist he was up and again on his feet before Kaitie and I had even come to a complete stop and we all watched, silent and speechless as he ran directly to shove his nose up the sphincter of the great white Husky who, having just witnessed the lengths to which Huar Huar had gone to procure such a sniff, just raised her tail and let him do it. Then, to everyone’s collective horror, my very small shihtsu let loose to have his way with the very large Husky.
I did the only thing that was socially appropriate to do in such a situation – I leapt off my bike leaving Kaitie to fend for herself trying to hold the whole thing up and ran for my dog, apologizing profusely to the Husky’s family for such a strange display of canine sexual harassment – explaining that my dog is really old, and Chinese. As though that would somehow justify his suicidal and rape-y behavior.
There is really no way to gracefully recover from something like that, other than to grab my dog, shove him back in the basket and ride on to Kaitie’s shouts of ‘mush’ and ‘go faster mummy’.
And Huar Huar? Content as can be, just chilling out in his basket for the rest of the afternoon. As Paul said, we’re fans of the school of natural consequences, and he’ll only do that once.