Imagine gliding through the trees with the wind in your hair and your dog by your side. The feeling of freedom surrounds you as you mush your way to your destination. A quick glance at your four-legged friend reveals their excitement as they assist in your travel. Now imagine this isn’t taking place in the frozen confines of Alaska but on your neighborhood street; and your vehicle isn’t a dog sled but a Dog Powered Scooter. “This really shines in an urban environment,” says Mark Schuette, local inventor of the Dog Powered Scooter. “The system is more than just dog mushing; it’s dog-powered mobility.”
Unlike dog sledding or skijoring, the dogs are attached to the side of the scooter by an adjustable harness. There are no lines to get tangled and no commanding the canines to steer. Perhaps best of all, dogs learn it in a day. Schuette came up with the design in 2005 as a safer alternative to cycling with dogs. He chose the scooter because it’s safer and more cost efficient than a bicycle. After the first prototype with an extra wheel and other incarnations—such as the dog in the back—Schuette settled on the current style of the rider steering the dog by their side. In 2009, he began retrofitting tricycles and in 2018, he came up with a fat tire design.
To ensure everyone’s safety, Schuette insists on a personalized ordering system for the Dog Powered Scooter. Though he contracts out the metal fabrication to Platt Green in Southerland, Oregon, Schuette does most of the work, from customer relations to assembly and packaging. It takes about two full days to create one.“Ordering begins with a phone call or email,” explains Schuette. “I want to make sure it is a good fit for both the rider and the dog.”
Schuette currently offers four dog-powered models as well as some custom fitting for tricycles. All of the designs are based around taller dogs who love to run and pull and a rider with basic bicycle skills. The American-made scooters can handle up to three or four dogs, depending upon their size. The clip-ins allow the rider and the dogs to remain in sync while the rigging offers a shock absorption feature to minimize stop-and-go jerking. The entire system is both height and width adjustable and there is enough slack to lean into turns. With an eye on safety, strong brakes tell the dog when to stop and a wheel cover keeps the dog separated from the spokes. With over 2,000 units sold, Schuette has never had a report of injury to rider or dog.
Schuette gets inquiries almost every day and has sold his Dog Powered Scooter to people throughout the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, and New York. Interest has risen during the pandemic as people are spending more time with their pets. Schuette is currently looking for investors to expand his operations and will hire employees soon. Until then, Bendites can see the Dog Powered Scooter cruising around town and through local parks.