The Charlie Bravo Story

On the road again

Charlie and I went for a ride last night. But it wasn’t just any ride; it was the first ride she’s taken in the sidecar without another dog, be it MacDuff or Nama, also occupying the Charkstream on the back of the motorcycle.
One of the first things I did upon returning from Colorado was to remove the dog chariot from the old Nighthawk; I did not need the constant reminder that the dog(s) that once filled it were no longer around for the experience. But another reason was Charlie. Much as my sister and I used to fight over who got to sit behind dad when we were on long road trips, all of the dogs that have ridden with me vastly preferred the back of the bike over the sidecar.
But as Charlie aged, it just made more sense that she occupy the SideHawk and the smaller dogs laid claim to the Charkstream. Her increasing weight served to better balance the rig, and mounting and dismounting from it’s less lofty position is much easier on her joints. But even though the sidecar was both more comfortable and prestigious, I could always tell that she resented having to give up “her” spot. So, that’s why I took it off.
And last night, it made a world of difference. She initially attempted to jump up into her old throne, only to find that for the first time in many years, it wasn’t there. She looked at me as if to say “what the…?” But she stepped regally into the hack, and after a prolonged period of her telling me that I wasn’t getting the show on the road fast enough to suit the whims of her Royal Highness, she prevailed and off we went.
I had no intentions other than to take a short jaunt over to Zach’s house to see Jude and Theo. But left turns kept morphing into rights and back into lefts, and before I knew it, we were many miles from the Casa. Daylight continued to soften around the edges as Charlie settled into the rhythm of the road like the old pro she is, and even the streetlights coming on didn’t serve as a notification that we might need to turn the rig back towards the Casa.
Motorcycles are great. Dogs are greater. But when you get the opportunity to combine the two, well, that’s a special type of Nirvana. There is nothing else in life like hearing Charlie’s ears popping in the wind like velvety soft black bullwhips, and her jowls flopping about like a negligent electrician.
You would think that after the last nine years and tens of thousands of miles on the bike with Charlie, the cries of “but where’s her helmet?” or “why isn’t she strapped in?” would eventually abate, but if you did think that, you would be wrong. Don’t you think by now that if there WAS such an article that served as actual protection rather than just some inane fashion statement, she would be rocking it? Life is nothing if not a series of calculated risks; all we can do is mitigate those risks to best of our ability and keep getting back on the bike.
The day will come soon enough when Charlie is gone, or age and lack of ability force me to permanently park the bike and take up knitting, scrapbooking or some other “safe” lifestyle, but today is not that day. My man John Steinbeck said it best in his book about traveling with his own dog named Charley: “My wife married a man; I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby. I knew that ten or twelve thousand miles driving a truck, alone and unattended, over every kind of road, would be hard work, but to me it represented the antidote for the poison of the professional sick man.”
We’ll continue seeing you on the road, until one day we won’t; until then…
We be of one blood, ye and I

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