Monday, January 25, 2010

Opee the Motorcross Dog

Opee and Mike on a motorcycle* Photos from LA Times Blog and Associated Press

Sometimes, things happen with little explanation. This is the story of Opee, a dog from Perris, California who loves motocross and has racked up 10,000 hours to prove it.

In the beginning

In 2001, Mike Schelin picked up a puppy after his divorce. He picked up this little Australian Shephard called Opee. Bringing him along while he worked on his bike, Opee would sleep in his toolbag.

One day when Mike was riding his dirt bike, he noticed Opee running along the side of it. With the high energy level the Australian Shepherds have, this dog would not stop running until he stopped his bike. Feeling bad that his dog couldn't be with him, he picked up a four-wheeler for Opee to ride along. Opee did not like the dust in his eyes, so Mike picked up goggles for him. One day, Opee jumped up on the tank of his owner's motocross bike and hasn't looked back since. When the bike is parked, Opee takes a nap on the tank.

While there is a huge concern of this sport being dangerous, Mike has taken all precautions to make sure that his dog is kept safe. When he races, he does not aim to win the competition but does manage to finish every race. Opee is never attached to Mike or the bike so that if the bike does take a spill, he is not trapped. Mike has also taught him special commands to know when to prepare for a jump.

A Seasoned Veteran

Opee and Mike CloseupThese two have accomplished much since then. Being a full-fledged member of American Motorcycle Association, and has a SCORE International card. Mike did this so that he and Opee could race in Baja which is one of the biggest motocross events around. He also has his own custom gear like a helmet, inflatable vest, specially made neck brace, and several jerseys.

This twosome did race in Baja which is a 276 mile (444 km) race. They were on a five-member team and finished the race --with 10 minutes to spare-- in 17 hours and 49 minutes.

They have taken a spill here and there. Even the most skilled motocross racer has a plaster cast past and Opee is no exception. His worst crash came in the 2006 Baja 500. Once, they took a spill at 75 mph in the dirt and went into a 40-foot skid.

The dog skinned his nose and scraped his paw. Mike sliced his leg. Thankfully, the injuries weren't enough to put them out of the race.

Downtime Activities

When Opee isn't racing, he works as a search and rescue dog, an assistance dog for children with disabilities and is an ambassador with the fans of motocross. His owner is trying to get an agent for him but that hasn't materialized yet.

Most importantly, as a responsible dog owner, Mike knows that participating in this sport is Opee's choice. If he doesn't jump on the tank to ride, then he won't take him.

For more information about this dynamic duo check out:

Offroad Puppy
LA Times Blog

Let's Discuss!

What is the most unusual activity you've done with your dog? I would have to say mine is when I have taken Cookie and Gigi on their leashes rollerskating around the neighborhood. I will use my rollerblades and let them go. While this can be dangerous if not done properly, I take every precaution necessary to make sure there are no injuries. I don't do it often, but the dogs do seem to enjoy it when I do, especially Cookie.

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