Jul 14, 2017

Harley Rose: The Dog Who Loves to Ride Motorcycles

Jo Kelley

Harley Rose the Motorcycle Dog

Every once in awhile, if you’re lucky, a dog enters your life and changes everything.

Mike Dillon found her in a cardboard box; a wriggling Red Heeler Australian Cattle Dog pup among nine other brothers and sisters. “Cowboy pups,” deemed by the little girl beside them. Little did she know, they were doomed for the horse trough if they could not find homes.

Dillon’s daughter chose the little Heeler because of her speckled, light brown coat, and after enough change was scrounged up, they took the pup home. Soon, the newest family addition was named Rosarita by Dillon's son, Amos, who thought the pup's coat looked like Rosarita refried beans.

Little did they know that she would soon be the famed Harley Rose, a spectacular dog who rides motorcycles, who would soon be featured in parades, and adored by people everywhere.

The dog who loves hogs.

Harley Rose is a dog who loves motorcycles more than anything, except her owner!

Dillon, 55, has been a lifelong motorcycle rider. When he was around seven years old, he started riding mini bikes and soon became a fan of the euphoric feeling and freedom that riding brings. It was when he rode with little Rosarita, nicknamed Rosie, tucked away in his hoodie pocket, that he realized her name should be Harley Rose, after the motorcycles she so loved to ride.

“I used to ride the backroads on my Harley-Davidson '68 Sportster, about three miles back and forth from my son’s farm,” Dillon said. “She would always be in my hoodie pocket. When she outgrew that, I put her in my hoodie. When she outgrew that, I made a sling for her so she could ride and put her paws up.”  

Not your typical dog.

Harley Rose up front on a motorcycle

Harley Rose is somewhat of an anomaly, Dillon admits. Professional pet trainers have raised eyebrows at Harley Rose, telling Dillon that she should not be so fond of riding, as dogs do not like things moving underneath them; plus, most dogs are scared of loud noises, which motorcycle riders are all but accustomed to.

Harley Rose is not like most dogs, though. She loves to sit up front on a roaring ride with the wind in her face. Miss Rose even has her own pair of pink riding goggles that she wears in parades and on her motorcycle adventures around the country.

Where the ride takes her.

Harley Rose and Mike Dillon enjoy the view at Buena Vista in Alma, WI

Recently, Dillon and Harley Rose took a ride together to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Dillon told Harley that they were going to see snow. Harley Rose may have certain human attributes, but this news brought out her canine excitement. As soon as she saw the snow, she jumped off the bike and began eating big mouthfuls of the stuff and loving every minute of it.

That’s not the only time she reverts to her instincts. “We watch dingo life documentaries on TV all the time,” Dillon explains. She even seems to emulate a lot of the wild attributes similar to the dingos on television. “When she gives birth, she digs holes for a den in a matter of minutes,” said Dillon. “She’s a great mother.”

Don't try this at home.

One of Harley Rose’s pups, Reddgie, seemed to be following in his mother's motorcycle-lovin' tracks, as he too enjoyed riding. “Reddgie was a prestigious rider and loved it 110 percent,” Dillon said. However, it wasn’t to last. Once, while out on a ride, Reddgie saw they were nearing their home and lept off the moving motorcycle in his excitement. Though he was not injured, the damage was done. Reddgie hasn’t gone near a motorcycle since.

Dillon charmingly refers to dogs who ride on the fuel tank as “squat goblins,” but he is against just sticking any dog on a motorcycle and expecting them to be okay. The instance with Reddgie is a reminder that not all dogs are meant to ride motorcycles. “Just be careful,” he warns.

A greater purpose rides in the family.

Harley Rose is more than just a riding partner. She is a PTSD service dog and dutifully sticks close to Dillon’s side. Her protective and calm nature came to the rescue one day as they walked through a neighborhood in Gary, Indiana. Dillon recalled the dangerous situation.

“A random man in a crackhouse just opened his door and shouted “sicc ‘em!” to his pit bull, talking about us,” he said. The pit bull quickly approached, but Harley Rose calmly stood her ground and quietly stared it down. After a few moments, the pit bull "turned back into a puppy" before simply running back into his house. The situation deescalated, and Dillon and Harley were free to go about their happy walk.

Harley’s grandpup Arthur is also being trained as a service dog. Dillon hopes to teach him to serve as a service dog for his son who has autism, and Harley Rose and Arthur proudly attend community events such as autism awareness runs. Arthur, not surprisingly, also loves to ride motorcycles.

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