A dog on a hog
Motorcycle duo — Craig resident and his dog — becoming local celebrities
April 15, 2011
Alvin Fenstermacher once rode his motorcycle 157 miles in one day.
It was a benefit poker run for a girl with leukemia in Dinosaur, and it took Alvin in a loop around the countryside.
After the exhausting day of churning out miles of pavement, he was rewarded with a seat at the bar and a plate of pulled pork with all the fixings.
However, Alvin isn't the kind of biker most would think of — he is a nine-and-a-half pound Pomeranian.
Murray Fenstermacher is the man holding the handlebars and paying for the gas. Right next to him is Alvin, in command of the cycle's crew from his seat on the gas tank.
"He gets mad," Murray said with a laugh. "If you leave him, he'll bite the hell out of my feet and start scolding me and telling me he wants to go."
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Murray, a 49-year-old Craig resident, picked Alvin out of a litter of puppies, but he wasn't necessarily supposed to be his dog.
Because Murray was laid up with an injured shoulder from an accident at work as a diesel mechanic, Alvin was placed in his care to keep him company. The two became inseparable.
"He was just destined to be my dog anyhow, you know?" Murray said. "I never would have went and said, 'Hey, I'm going to get a little Pomeranian.'"
But, despite claims the pair appear opposites — one a rough-dressed mechanic and biker, the other a small, well-groomed dog — Murray doesn't get too much guff about it.
"And the little bit of crap that they do give, once they realize how Alvin is, they're like, 'You know what, I wouldn't go that fast on a motorcycle, but he will so we are just going to shut the hell up,'" he said.
"A lot of people, they see this biker dude … they're like, 'That dog doesn't suit you, doesn't fit you. We would think you would have a pit bull or a Rottweiler or something.' But, those kinds of dogs aren't going to be able to go riding on my bike all day for 157 miles."
Murray, who was born in Aspen, started riding a dirt bike when he was 8, ditching piano lessons and homework to do so.
"I could hardly get my feet up on it," he said.
The year-and-a-half old Alvin started riding motorcycles last year on St. Patrick's Day.
"A friend of mine had him in a baby pouch, actually, he was strapped inside of it and had him suited up in there so he couldn't get out because he would always throw a fit when the bikes would leave and he didn't get to go," Murray said. "So we're like, 'Alright, you know what? He wants to go.' He loves motorcycles, all of his friends got bikes and he gets left behind."
At first, Murray was unsure about taking Alvin on the road.
"But, he just stuck his face in the wind and he's just loved it ever since," he said.
Alvin's owner was worried about his dog's safety and worked to come up with a way to allow his dog to put his face in the wind, but still be secure.
"I looked everywhere," he said. "I went to every dog website that you could think of to my understanding to find something that would work for him and there just was absolutely nothing on the market."
So, Murray made his own harness out of a regular dog harness, some straps and hooks. The result is a harness that doesn't affect Murray's steering, gives Alvin freedom to do as he likes and gives Murray peace of mind.
His version, he thinks, is safer than other methods he's seen to transport dogs on motorcycles.
"I mean, he is my dog — if I get killed, my dog should get killed with me, I guess," he said. "Humane activists would say otherwise, but the fact of it is that they make these dog carriers that are literally strapped to your bike and most people who have to lay their bike down in an emergency situation, you are leaving your dog to go crash with your bike."
Murray said some residents have told him he should try to design a patent for the harness system and he contends he would likely look into marketing the device.
The safety harness also has made Murray comfortable with taking Alvin to speeds that would make some other bikers nervous, he said.
"You could say that we pretty much have evidence that he's the fastest Pomeranian in Moffat County," he said.
In the year or so the two have been riding, Alvin has become somewhat of a local celebrity, Murray said. He is allowed into restaurants he isn't supposed to be in and girls at the bank have special treats for him.
"My intent was just to get him to ride, I never really thought anyone would really take an interest in any of it," Murray said with a laugh.
Girls have also taken notice, he said.
"I have actually had them say to my face that they thought it was really cool that my feminine side showed because I had a dog like this," he said. "I'm like, 'You don't really know Alvin — there's nothing feminine about him, you know?'
"They thought it was cool I could dress the way I dress, ride the way I ride, do what I do and still have a little dog like that and treat him the way I do."
As Alvin gets older, Murray contends he understands more and more there aren't many dogs like him. The more the two ride together, the more Murray said he appreciates the distinct feeling he gets.
"I just have absolute freedom — it is like all your cares go away and if you need to think about something or focus on something, you can," Murray said of riding his motorcycle. "When I have Alvin on the bike with me, it is like my best little fuzzy buddy is with me and I'm sharing that."