Canine co-habitation has long been a part of the casual atmosphere that prevails at Dirt Rag headquarters. From rides to relaxation, they are a constant companion. Some are gone, some are still with us, but they all warm our heart – and our toes under our desk.
With the assistance of the respective poochies’ partners, I offer this tribute to the four-legged denizens of Dirt Rag, past and present.
Speck – Elaine and Maurice Tierney
The original Dirt Rag office dog, Speck ruled as queen of HQ for a number of years, starting in the mid-90s. Elaine and Maurice’s Border Collie and Brittany Spaniel mix had a bubbly, warm personality that turned hearts into melted butter.
The only thing Speck loved more than mountain biking was being petted. Former Art Director Mark Tierney dubbed her “Schnoz” for her habit of sneaking up to your desk, sticking her nose on your lap, looking at you with sugary brown eyes, and not leaving until you gave her a proper back scratching.
Maurice remembers Speck’s day in court, “The neighbors took us to court, claiming that Speck had trespassed on their property. ‘They took twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows, and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.’ Apparently the evidence impressed the magistrate, and we ended up paying a couple hundred dollar fine.”
We miss you, Schnozzy, rest in peace.
Sparky – Chris Cosby
Back in the day, Sparky and former Ad Guy Chris Cosby were inseparable, “Sparky came into my life when my girlfriend heard about a black lab that had been passed down through a family. She was relegated to living in a garage while they looked for a new owner. This was January, and we couldn’t stand the thought of her on that cold concrete floor—but we already had two cats and an American bulldog. We took her in, and although there were the inevitable turf wars, and infrequent growls and meows, she became a part of the pack. Sparky would run trails with me while I rode, slept under my desk at work (great foot warmer!) and was my soul mate for seven years.”
I’ll never forget the Christmas that I bought five pounds of dark chocolate covered espresso beans, with the plan to divvy them up into little gift packets for friends and family. I stashed them in my bottom desk drawer, and headed out with the rest of the staff for our annual Christmas dinner and drinks. We left Sparky behind to guard the office.
Apparently, I didn’t close my desk drawer all the way. When we returned later that night, I found all five pounds of coffee beans strewn on the office floor, deposited into several piles, after passing rapidly through Sparky’s digestive tract.
Chrispy had the cleanup honors. R.I.P., Sparky.
Ivan The Red – Karen Brooks
Karen’s Vizsla companion Ivan didn’t often visit DRHQ—mostly because Karen rode her bike to work just about every day. But when Ivan did show up, he was the best athlete in the house.
Karen summoned up the strength to pen a tribute to her recently departed friend, “Ivan was the best mountain biking dog, ever. I told him that after every ride. (His daughter and sidekick Viva didn’t mind; she agreed.) There were few things he loved more than rounding up a pack of humans to lead through the forest, charging down the trail at top speed, leaping over log and stream. He’d pause to point at deer or make quick sideways dashes to tree squirrels, but if anyone else tried to stop for too long, The Chief Pest would bark until everyone was moving again.
“”Hope those deer in heaven can run fast.”
Roman – Shannon Mominee
Roman is another well-conditioned athlete, and a very handsome Weimaraner specimen.
Shannon is his proud papa, “My wife picked him from a litter of ten when he was two days old, and I thought of his name while cycling through Portugal. Roman is by far the coolest canine on Earth, and makes us laugh all day, from the moment we wake. He’s silly, yet has stature and enjoys being under a blanket, which my wife loves. He’s the perfect trail dog for hiking and biking, which I love. Roman listens, doesn’t need a leash, has the neighbors trained to treat him because he’s so damn handsome—and if you look into his eyes you know he’s intelligent.”
Heinz – Frank Wuerthele
Heinz was a young, feral dog living in the woods near Seven Springs resort in southwestern Pennsylvania when Frank Wuerthele gradually lured him closer and closer with hand-rolled bread balls. Eventually, Heinz got close enough to let Frank pet him, and from that moment the two formed a lifelong bond.
Heinz was a hard-core mountain biking dog, athletic and fit. Frank, a former bicycle industry road rep, took Heinz with whenever he called on clients, including Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.
Franks explains the story behind the photo shown above, “Back when I was a road rep, I thought ‘man, wouldn’t it be cool if Heinz rode the chair lift with me.’ So everyday, after reinforcing the big three commands (stay, come, heel) on our daily training hikes, I introduced the command: ‘hop up.’ Hop up onto the couch in the beginning. And then, one glorious day at Snowshoe, and with the world’s nicest (craziest?) liftie’s blessing, Heinz hopped up onto a moving chair lift chair and onto my lap. We were swept off the ground and up high into the air.
“At that very moment you witnessed Heinz at his happiest. His joy was so apparent. The rush of the air currents, and the smells that they brought. You could sense his temptation to leap when he saw a bear, deer or groundhog grazing far below. Being right there, with all that going on, lounging on his best friend’s lap.
“Being part of a pack.
“Heinz is Free.
“Boo-hoo. Blubber, blubber. Sob, sob.”
We miss you Heinz.
Royal Zero the Zombie Killer – Matt Kasprzyk
Zero can usually be found in Matt’s office, at the foot of his master—no doubt guarding him against whatever dangers lurk, zombies or otherwise.
According to Matt, “Royal Zero the Zombie Killer is the official AKC name of our 28 pound, four-year-old Shiba Inu. Zero joined our family in 2009, after we visited Royal Kennels in Cincinnati, Ohio, to ‘meet’ some Shibas… We weren’t able to leave without him.
“Since then, Zero has been a large part of our adventures. He loves the outdoors and is happiest chasing a bike or ball. He’s aloof, independent and cat-like at times; but he’s also very loyal, intelligent and ready for action every time I grab my helmet.
“Although he’s fairly small and officially classified as a Spitz, he has the demeanor of a large dog and has strong alpha tendencies. He hates puppies, but he’s calm and gentle with kids, and loves anyone who says ‘hello’ to him.”
Toby – Josh Patterson
From the moment I met Toby, I could tell from the sparkle in his eyes that he loves life and makes the most of every moment.
Toby now resides in Colorado with former Editor Josh Patterson, “Toby is a Border Collie/English Pointer mix. The pointer dilutes a bit of the collie neuroticism, and both breeds are excellent runners and very attentive to their people.
“While working as editor of Dirt Rag, Toby frequently accompanied me to the office, where he alerted the staff to the arrival of the UPS and FedEx drivers, chewed on things underneath my desk, and accompanied me on many a mountain bike ride.
“Before Toby was my riding buddy he was a rescue pup. I must admit I had ulterior motives for picking him up from the shelter. Toby was a thinly veiled ploy used to lure a girl I had been dating into matrimony. Nobody can say no to a puppy.
“That was four years ago. Toby is no longer a puppy. The girl stuck around. So I guess my plan succeeded. [Insert evil laugh here.]”
Bandit – Trina and Stephen Haynes
This loveable little guy is the new kid at DRHQ. He’s a cute as a button.
Trina told me, “Bandit is a relatively new addition to our household as well as the Dirt Rag office pack. We took this adorable Lab/Pit Bull mix in after he was abandoned in a park with no I.D.
“High spirited (to put it mildly), good with our kids, and willing to lay still for belly rubs, Bandit’s cuteness often overshadows the chore of walking, training and cleaning up after him. Not to mention the 6 a.m. wake up calls.
“Still, that is but a pittance for the love that is given in return from this loveable laddie. We plan to continue his training and incorporate more trail hiking this year with the aim of riding on trails with him next year.”
What about you?
Have a favorite pooch (or other pet!) that loves to ride? Post a pic in the comments below!