Kris Byrns with her blue heeler Bob on the Constitution Trail in Illinois.
Barbara and Tom Swenson at Palm Harbor
along the Pinellas Trail.
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More Trail Tales
For the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Rails to Trails, we asked our readers: How do you enjoy rail-trails with your pet?
One reader learned how to burn up her blue heeler's extra energy—and a few pounds of her own—by cycling with him on a local rail-trail. Another couple moved to Florida and signed up to patrol the Pinellas Trail, and now they bring their dog along as an honorary trail ranger. For each of them, their pets have become a central part of their rail-trail experience.
Kris Byrns of Bloomington, Ill., writes:
Bob is a great dog, but my husband and I wondered if we would be able to keep him. When we got Bob from the Humane Society, they warned us that blue heelers are an active breed, but at four months he was so sweet we fell in love. I thought that daily walks would be good; I needed to lose some weight.
I soon discovered I could not walk enough for Bob. Without a lot of vigorous exercise daily, Bob barked and bit at our heels, living up to the "heeler" name. He desperately needed activity. The dog park, doggy day care and obedience classes helped a little, but he needed more.
Then I discovered a device, the WalkyDog, that safely connects Bob to my bicycle. Our first trip was up the street and back, and before long we were regulars on the nearby Constitution Trail. Bob loves our bike rides, and we usually go several times a week. I enjoy experiencing the changing seasons and the natural setting. Bob appreciates nature, too, especially squirrels. He also likes seeing other dogs in their backyards as we pass by on our walks. After four to eight miles on the rail-trail, Bob is tired when we get home and happy for a nap.
Biking on the trail has been good for me too; it's the reason I have been able to lose about 35 pounds. I am healthier, and Bob did not have to go back to the shelter. Everybody's happy!
Tom Swenson of Largo, Fla., writes:
In 2002, my wife Barbara and I relocated to Largo, Fla., from Connecticut. One reason we chose Largo is the Pinellas Trail, which runs through town. In 2003, Barbara became an auxiliary Pinellas Trail Ranger and has diligently patrolled the trail for more than five years. This year, I became an auxiliary ranger and now accompany Barbara on trail patrol.
Also, this year we acquired a seven-pound Papillon named "Gypsy." We decided Gypsy should ride along with us, and we have installed a dog-carrying case on the back of Barbara's bike.
On the days we go out on patrol, we have to call the Pinellas Trail office to alert them that we are on patrol. The conversation is, "Barbara, Gypsy and Tom are on the trail."
After several patrols, the office requested that Gypsy have a dog tag attached to her collar that reads, "Auxiliary Trail Ranger Gypsy."
Gypsy has become well-known to the riders and walkers who use the Pinellas Trail, and she loves all the attention she gets. She doesn't think much of the squirrels around the trail and usually gives them a bark or two when they run in front of our bikes.