I recently received an email requesting my opinion on a newly developed mode of transportation — namely a dog powered scooter. When I started to look into the matter I found that there were a number of places where one could purchase not only dog powered scooters, but dog powered bicycles and tricycles of many varied designs. Several of these manufacturers are not very clear as to whether they are suggesting these devices as an alternate mode of transportation, which would be "environmentally friendly", or whether they view these devices as simply a form of entertainment and exercise.
In any event my research led me to recall the fact that, in addition to dog sleds used in snow-covered regions of the world, historically dogs had once been quite commonly used for transporting people and goods. Dog carts were often used by people who couldn't afford a horse, ox, or mule. They were also useful in crowded cities where there wasn't enough room to maneuver larger draught animals in the narrow streets.
Every now and then it appears that the concept of dog powered transportation seems to be reinvented. Thus in 1930 this item appeared in the magazine "Popular Science".
At least in our modern reincarnation of using dogs as vehicle motors, the dogs are running freely again, and not trapped in a tread wheel.
Despite the fact that the laws against dogcarts have never been rescinded on either side of the Atlantic, dogcarting as a sport and an entertainment for families seems to be on the rise in many places. This activity seems to do no harm and the dogs seem to like it. Therefore let us hope that nobody notices that big dog pulling a cart containing a happy child lest someone lest they decide to dust off a musty old law of that long past century and put a stop to such practices. If they do that same legal curmudgeon might also choose to bring penalties against the use of our newly reinvented dog-powered scooters and bicycles. That would be a needless and pointless action—however those laws are still on the books.
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark; Do Dogs Dream? The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission