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Pull This! Green Job for Dogs
Putting pullers to work—for the fun of it

We’re always looking for opportunities to green up our lives with dogs. So when Daphne Lewis sent us this video of her Chinooks hauling bamboo, we knew we’d hit one of those eco trifectas: Enlisting dogs who love to pull in the enterprise of helping to thin an ur-sustainable crop with no power tools. It was so simple and—based on the sacked out forms of Brett and Rosy after a day’s work—satisfying.  

It turns out Daphne and her dogs have a long history of pulling. She got into the game trying to find an exercise outlet for her energetic Rottweiler, Rubromarginata (Rubro, for short), years ago in Seattle. She began on rollerblades, which lacked a good braking system, and so soon graduated to scooters and sulkies. She launched a dog scooter business and then set about creating a market for them by starting a scooter group and writing Dog Scooter: The Sport for Dogs Who Love to Run.
 
She sold her scooter business, and three years ago, moved to Perry, Ga., to farm bamboo. But she kept her hand in the pup-powered vehicle biz, as the owner/operator of Chalo Sulky, which makes a light, two-wheeled cart (like those used in harness racing) and harnesses. The sulkies look like so much fun. Watch Rosy and Brett nearly pass cyclists on a trail.
 
Her other passion is adapting the harnesses and techniques for people with disabilities, especially to pull wheelchairs. She’s created several demo videos including a really wonderful short with her mother being pulled in a wheelchair. I love how calm Rosy and Brett are when they aren’t in pull mode.
 
The day after we talked, Daphne was off to meet with a disabled vets group to help them train their assistance dogs to pull their wheelchairs. She’s also working on developing a tricycle, which some people may find easier to balance than the sulky or scooter.
 

Do you have a puller who helps at home, in the garden or on the road?

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
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Submitted by Lindsay O. | April 5 2011 |

In addition to helping out around the house, there is also the competitive sport of weight pulling. There are several organizations which hold competitions for the sport, my own American Pit Bull Terrier currently has his champion title with the United Kennel Club. It's a great outlet for the dogs, and it's a positive environment, too.

Submitted by Daphne Lewis | April 6 2011 |

Lisa, thank you for this write up. I have trouble believing how beautifully you crafted our phone interview into a story. And now full of energy, off I go to harvest bamboo shoots to sell for fresh vegetables in Savannah, Georgia. Yours for working dogs, Daphne Lewis

Submitted by Whitney | April 15 2011 |

I have two great dogs AND.... we've spent years going to different trainers to help us train them not to pull so hard when they're walking on leashes. I've often thought it would be so much easier to harness that drive and energy. I'd love to give them a chance to pull something and see how they do. I bet they would love it. Any ideas for more urban dwellers?

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