JD Whitaker & Rhonda Reynolds, Sidecar Dog Riders

JD Whitaker and Rhonda Reynolds —motorcyclists with sidecars who ride with their dogs in their sidecars, and two of the 18 such folks featured in “Sit Stay Ride: The Story of America’s Sidecar Dogs,” an extraordinary documentary WMNF was slated to screen July 28 (info here)—recall what first prompted them to get a sidecar. Sit_Stay_Ride 18Turns out, they report sharply contrasting experiences, including Whitaker’s spanning decades and his canine companion, Hercules, is his third sidecar dog, while Reynolds is a recent convert who decided to get a sidecar at the moment JDWhittakershe was bringing her newest dog, Mooloo, into her life. They discuss how different dogs react differently to becoming sidecar dogs, and the process for acclimating they ones who don’t jump right into the sidecar, ready to ride. (Whitaker noted that his second sidecar dog wasn’t crazy about riding initially but came around to it, whereas Herculeshis first sidecar dog and Hercules loved it immediately.) The pair describe what it feels like riding on the open road with their dogs alongside them in the sidecars, the sense of freedom and joy—and the joy they bring to those who spot them on the highway, at gas stations and elsewhere. Whitaker explains the Tour10984055_946757545334647_655337729438052615_n Of Honor, which for him involves turning his motorcycle’s trunk lid into a painted tribute to Lance Corporal Colton Rusk, an explosive detection dog handler who was so effective at his job that he was assassinated by in Afghanistan. Whitaker and Hercules travel the country, telling Rusk’s Rhonda_3story and urging people to photograph the trunk lid, and share those pictures and Rusk’s story on social media. Reynolds expands on a point she makes in the film—that dogs are with us such a short time, relatively, so it’s all the more important to give them a wonderful life, replete with assorted adventures—observing that it’s crucial to her, and she thinks, crucial to Mooloo for them to spend as much time as possible together, and enjoy an array of experiences, in what I called “an unspoken bucket list.” (www.sidecardogs.com)

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Scott Trebatoski, Director of The Hillsborough County Pet Resources Center, about the Center’s forthcoming (Aug. 1) extravaganza marking the one-year anniversary of its First Saturday Celebration. The Celebration is held the first Saturday of each month, a multifaceted afternoon with, as Trebatoski describes it, “a carnival-like atmosphere,” chiefly designed to cultivate as many pet adoptions as possible. (http://hillsboroughcounty.org/Pets)

COMEDY CORNER: Greg Fitzsimmons’ “A Humane Society” (www.gregfitzsimmons.com/fitzdog-radio/)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” John Hiatt’s “My Dog And Me,” David Dondero’s “Not Everybody Loves Your Doggie Like You Do,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Iggy & The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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