Eric Ristau, co-director of “Sit Stay Ride”

by | Feb 11, 2015

Eric Ristau—co-director with his wife, Geneva, of “Sit Stay Ride: The Story of America’s Sidecar Dogs,” a documentary about motorcyclists with sidecars, and the dogs who ride in ‘em—discusses the genesis of the film, which came about by happenstance, how at first they were thinking the topic probably constituted a short, but in conducting more interviews with sidecar dog devotees, realized they had a feature length doc on their hands.Sit_Stay_Ride_BTS-1 Ristau acknowledges that while the 18 people onscreen clearly have a shared passion, they otherwise have no discernible connection, noting he found most of them through online forums. And agreeing that there’s a strong adoption/rescue theme coursing through the film, Ristau explains that this wasn’t by design, and they were a bit surprised by the preponderance of rescue imagedogs present onscreen, even though they personally have always had rescue dogs. He also responds to the observation that what might be expected to merely be an entertaining tour of a colorful subculture blossoms into a surprisingly poignant film, propelled by themes of freedom, joy, friendship, love, rescue, companionship and redemption. As just one example of how affecting “Sit Stay Ride” can be, Ristau describes how one of the riders, JD Whittaker, Sit_Stay_Ride-18bturned his motorcycle’s trunk lid into a painted dedication to the late Lance Corporal Colton Rusk, an explosive detection dog handler who was so effective at his job, he was assassinated by the enemy. Whittaker and his dog, Hercules, have logged thousands of miles, telling Rusk’s story, and urging people to take pictures of the trunk as much as of Hercules and the sidecar, and post those photos on Facebook and other social media. Whittaker is, Ristau observes, “Riding with his dog for a higher purpose.“ (

ALSO: We spoke briefly with Dr. Steven Tauber, Chair of the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida, who that night was to deliver a lecture in Tampa, entitled “Law, Politics And Animal Rights.” (

COMEDY CORNER: Nick DiPaolo’s “Animal Activists” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Stolen Idol’s “Monkey Mayhem,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Prince’s “When Doves Cry”


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