Today it was my pleasure to interview Team Russell regarding their recent very successful journey across the Southern United States by bicycle.
Team Russell consists of two Jack Russell Terriers and Hank Raines. Hank is the group leader, bicycle engine and spokesman for this group.
On to the interview.....
What motivated you to bring two Jack Russell's along on your Coast to Coast tour across the southern portion of the United States?
"I adopted Airwick and Agape in March of 2004. It was obvious when I'd get the bicycle out that Airwick wanted to tag along so we began with a leash system where he would run along side. I'd leave him at home for the longer rides and he was very unhappy so we began experimenting. Ordered the Xtracycle for my own cross country and realized that it could be adapted to make room for the pets. 1,000 practice miles and then a trip down the Atlantic Coast and I knew we were ready."
What preparations did you make to help your dogs to have a comfortable adventure with you?
"We customized our own seat to fit them perfectly. Then lots of practice adding or taking away things that were/weren't needed. It was a fun spring."
What additional changes would you make prior to your next tour with your dogs? - Will there be a next tour?
"Depending on when we tour, I'd add some type of small heater to their seat for the cold mornings. If this turns out to not be practical, which is certainly might, I think having two jerseys made out of the same wool as our jerseys would be a good addition. "
If you had to name the one moment that you think your dogs enjoyed the most what would it be?
"There were several. We all three loved our little breaks throughout the day just to relax and sit with each other. Airwick loved all the animals that we'd pass and Agape loved all the attention from the people we met."
What was your favourite moment of the trip?
"Hurricane in Savannah and almost every night snuggled in the tent with my two babies."
How did the tour change you as a person? Did it motivate you to make any changes upon your return home?
"It has changed our lives in that cycling is a permanent part of our daily rituals now. We will also be going on at least one extended tour a year when time and responsibilities allow."
Any advice for others who are considering touring with their pets?
"You know your pet best. The premise that some people will try a long tour or cross country with a pet that isn't ready is possible but highly unlikely. If you tour with your pet for the wrong reasons, you're going to fail. Start off very slow and be prepared to adapt, adjust to things as they come along. be prepared to watch and listen to their needs on the road. Their needs change when out on the road just like your own. best reminder is that your pet will experience your trip much as you do."
Is there any thing else that you would like to discuss?
Update, December 28,2004
Hi Jamie, here's our "what's next" I promised you. Our new goal is to bicycle as much of the Pan American Highway as possible. From Argentina to Alaska would be our dream but we are running into obstacles with allowing my terriers to safely cross the different borders. I've never successfully toured without my faithfull companion Sir Airwick and frankly don't think I can succeed without him. I've contemplated leaving them both home and adopting one of the many strays supposedly throughout S America but it wouldn't be the same. The dogs are my security, my companions, and my best friends. Unfortunately I'm running out of time unless we switch directions and start in Alaska in early summer. Anyone who can point me in the direction of people and organizations who can help us safely complete this trip will be honorary members of Team Russell. I am confident we could complete the 16,000 mile trip in approximately six months. Without Airwick, I'd probably not get out of Buenos Aries.
I strongly recommend reading Hank's journal from his two Terrier assisted tours. Within the pages you will see them encounter various trials and tribulations but they always manage to come through successfully and safely in the end.
Both journals are amongst my personal top ten favourites!
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