Josh MacDougall may have found the ultimate blend of affordable, fun and earth-friendly transportation — standing on a long board while his eager Siberian husky "Indigo" pulls him around Ashland, on trips to the store, out to dinner or just for recreation.
"It's his passion. He loves to pull. It's just natural for him," says MacDougall, a firefighter with CalFire.
The near-inseparable pair log about five miles a day, often going on the nearby Greenway bike path and up mild hills above the boulevard, he says.
The 9-year old dog doesn't care for the uphill pull, so MacDougall often dismounts for a jog together.
When he and his wife go hiking and camping, Indigo carries his food and water in saddlebags, he says.
MacDougall adopted Indigo as a pup when living in Costa Rica. When he moved to Ashland five years ago, they hitchhiked here together. He was named for his ice-blue eyes and has symmetrical black-and-white markings that show signs of his mutt mother.
But, mostly, says MacDougall, he carries the pulling power and temperament — friendly to all humans, feisty with other canines — of his husky father.
"He's awesome. He's a good dog with great character. He's got so much going for him. He's really sweet and happy and sometimes a little crazy, like if he senses another dog in heat, he'll pull me up any hill."
MacDougall draws bemused stares as he is pulled at a light canter down Nevada Street, speaking commands in a sing-song voice.
"His favorite is when I imitate Donald Duck. That means 'come.' "
In dog-friendly Ashland, Indigo is welcomed in many establishments — and he says his friends are all jealous of the man-dog transportation model he's set up and want to follow suit.
As a mode of transportation, "dog-skating" leaves you out in the elements and doesn't get much faster than 5 mph, but there are no parking problems. And how many of us can say our cars and bikes actually love us?
Traveling this way "has way more personality," says MacDougall. "It exercises your dog while transporting you, and it runs off of dog food."