Do you smile when you see a motorcycle with a dog on board, obviously enjoying itself being out in the wind?
However, in 2011 Australian Road Rule 297-3 was introduced to ban animals riding on the fuel tank. It was quickly amended to banning an animal being between the rider and the handlebars because some machines have fuel tanks on the back.
I’ve met a few riders with motorcycle dog as riding companions. There’s John Skinner and his little black dog, Scrambles, who have ridden right across the continent, Anny Seaton on her 1986 Kawasaki Z1300 with her dog Mandy sitting alongside her in the sidecar and, of course, there is the most famous – Tex and Bundy.
Terry “Tex” O’Grady and his cattle dog, Bundy, have helped raise $4 million for various charities through their own charity work or leading various charity rides.
“We also do therapy work for hospitals, palliative care, kids, old people’s homes etc,” says Tex.
“Plus people see you in traffic and they take photos and smile, so we’ve possibly stopped a lot of road rage and saved lives that way.”
Tex and Bundy are the only rider and dog in Australis that are exempt from the rules in all states except South Australia and the Northern Territory, thanks to Ministerial Declarations because of the charity work they do. Tex says he is working on those other states and expects to get exemptions soon.
Tex says Bundy has travelled more than 740,000km over the past eight years, but he started riding with a dog on his bike in 2000.
“I was managing a thousand-acre property and I had a BMW R 1100 GS at the time,” he says. “My dog, Cash, wanted to go everywhere with me, so I put him in goggles and a jacket. People saw Cash and started asking me to lead rides and do charity events.”
In 2005, Cash was tragically killed crossing the road when he was hit by a car. Cash was inducted into the Australian Motorcycling Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006.
Tex says he looked at about 250 cattle dogs over five months as a replacement and wanted to take them all home, but he couldn’t find a dog with a suitable size and temperament.
“Then a mate of mine came over and told me about this woman in Mudgee who was selling some dogs so I rang her. I didn’t think she’d like the idea of me taking the dog on the bike, but she knew about Cash. We had taken her granddaughter who suffered with spina bifida on a ride and they had never forgotten about it. She gave me the pick of the litter.”
Tex said he took Bundy, the stumpy-tailed cattle dog, back to Lithgow in a gearsack in the pouring rain. When I got home I looked inside and she was sound asleep. I knew straight away that I had the right dog,” he says.
“She does more kilometres than most riders. And we’ve never had an incident,” he says.
The road rules were changed after a girl was killed in a car crash when she was sitting on the driver’s lap. Tex says the laws were expanded to include animals.
“When they brought it out they should have consulted with the people who it affected – me and the Farmers Federation – but they didn’t,” he says.
Tex tells the tale of a highway patrol officer booking him on his way home from a cancer ride. “He gave us a hard time and made us stand on the side of the road in 35-degree heat until we could get a lift home for Bundy,” he says.
“So I sent out a press release and got some media coverage and eventually the Road Minister in NSW said he could work something out and that’s how I got my first exemption.”
Tex claims several RSPCA bosses ride motorcycles and don’t have a problem with animals on a bike. “But I can’t see them changing the laws,” he says.
“I think a dog is safer in front of you than behind you. If a dog is in the back what happens if you come off the dog? She goes with the bike and nine times out of 10 you are safest away from the bike in a crash. If I have Bundy in front and we crash she comes with me.”
Laws vary around the world, but dogs are allowed to ride in New Zealand where Tex and Bundy are headed soon for some charity work.