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A trail dog’s reflections from the back of the pack | ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine

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I think I was always a trail dog. I can’t remember the first time I followed my human down a trail, but it must have been a long time ago as I remember the wheels were really small, not big like today. My name is Rufus and I’m a seven-year-old wheel chaser.

I started chasing my human’s wheels when they were very small. He has to buy bigger ones now to keep up

Being a trail dog has taken me to some amazing places. I have run down from the top of Tremalzo in Lago Di Garda, peed on the best trees in Finale Ligure, stolen pizza off the table in an Alpine refugio, taken a cable car to the top of Pic Blanc while helicopters flew over the Megavalanche, and even watched Fabien Barel win the first EWS – but Joe Barnes is still my favourite, he smells great. Now I mostly run around in my new home in Scotland.

Bikes have taken us to amazing places, there were no rabbits here though.

We had some great laughs at the beginning, when I was younger and faster I liked to overtake my human Trev and wait for him around corners as a surprise. He always screamed in delight when he found me sitting in the middle of the trail and would often ride straight into the bushes. I guess he was looking for squirrels? He would always pat my head after and call me a name, though I think it was a rude word. He helped me home when I ate a bee and my face got so big – how we laughed about it later. We learnt some great tricks together, he taught me to drink from his backpack and I taught him how to stop really fast with big sticks. We had some hard times too, one time I was chasing really fast and he must have been thinking about human things as he hit a tree, hard. I thought it was a funny new game at first, but it must have really hurt as he didn’t play when I licked his face. I was very happy when he finally got up as I did not know the way home.

2015, the day I ate a French bee in Alpe D’Huez. Trev was worried for a while but I was OK, so he started laughing and calling me Trout Pout. I don’t know what that is but I laughed anyway.

We go riding every day, even when it’s cold and raining. I don’t know why. Sometimes I would love to just sit by the fire and listen to Netflix. But we have a fun game when it’s really horrible outside, he always pretends he doesn’t want to go out, but if I jump around and fetch my lead, in the end, we always have fun. One time I made Trev really angry when I ran off after a rabbit. It was a bitterly cold day and he doesn’t have enough fur to keep warm if he has to wait for me. I don’t know why he didn’t help chase the rabbit too – it got away.

I loved Lake Garda. It was very hot and I was only three-years-old. I peed here.

One day we went out on an eMTB – that was tough. I really hope Trev doesn’t buy one of those. It looks like a normal bike but we went uphill so fast we must have been chasing rabbits. Strange, because I couldn’t smell any anywhere. I’m glad I stole some food from the kitchen sideboard before that ride – it was a tiring one. Over the years I have seen many bikes come and go and the wheels and cassette grow bigger and bigger, just like me. I have watched how riding makes Trev’s life better, sometimes when he’s stressed he always seems happier after a long run with me. I think it’s good for him and that makes me happy too. Things have changed in our lives this year. There’s a new mini Trev in the house, well, I mean he smells the same but is very, very small. Our rides grew a little shorter for a while and it’s now sometimes loud at night, but I still love it when my human Trev and I are out together on the bikes – it’s just like the old days. The new little human already has a balance bike – maybe he will ride with us one day too?

I think I am faster than him

Seven years, so many trees, so many smells, so many adventures together. I don’t feel old and my paws are still strong, but my dog food says ‘Senior’ on the side now. He talks a lot about ‘dad bod’ and shorter rides. I’m not sure what that means but I let him beat me down the trails sometimes now. I think it makes him feel happier as he is getting older too. I hope we can keep running together forever.

Words: Rufus Photos: His human