A few years ago my husband, Greg, and I rode our motorcycles south to Guatemala in Central America to support an indigenous women’s micro-finance nonprofit. Very soon after we arrived, we adopted a German Shepherd puppy that we named Moxie.

In addition to the normal anxieties of being a first-time dog owner, we also worried about transportation since we are a motorcycles-only family. We searched the internet for trailers, sidecars, and motorcycle dog carrier options but didn’t find anything that looks safe, secure, and sensible. So, we decided to create our own.

Our first design was based on an aluminum motorcycle pizza delivery box but it was big, boxy, and heavy. Then one night Greg woke up with an idea that evolved into Moxie’s K9 Moto Cockpit motorcycle dog carrier.

Moxie leaps onto my motorcycle and into the Cockpit. She turns around and lays down and then I strap her in with tethers that connect to her riding harness. I adjust her tail for comfort and then, last but not least, I put on her Rex Specs dog goggles to protect those watery Shepherd eyes from the wind during our road trips.

At first, I worried that it would take weeks to train our shepherd dog and get her comfortable to ‘saddle up’ and strap in. As it turns out, I was projecting. Moxie had the whole operation down pat and was ready to ride after just two days of practice but I was nervous to lift my feet onto the footpegs and ride off. That’s where a lot of support, coaxing, and some ‘constructive shaming’ gave me the nudge I needed.

The village where we live in Guatemala is mostly dirt roads and cobblestones and there are no high school parking lots to practice in. Riding slow is much harder than riding fast and especially when you have a big furry load onboard. In particular, Moxie is not a passive passenger. She’s like a radar-operator with her ears up and sniffed out, and she shifts from side to side whenever she catches the scent of a cow, goat, sheep, or – heaven forbid – a cat!

So it took some practice and a lot of getting used to before it actually started to feel like second nature. Then we started riding off-road again, which is nearly impossible to avoid when you live in a developing country filled with mountains and a torrential rainy season.

Greg had the first crash with our adorable dog when riding my motorcycle across a river. He got soaked but Moxie was safe, dry, and just a little bewildered by the whole thing. Then I had a crash with her – the first of many – when I hit an uneven seam in the concrete after heavy rain.

They say a motorcycle falling over is a bit like a relationship on the rocks: a woman will tend to fight to save it while a man usually throws his hands up and bails out. In that case, when your motorcycle weighs 500lbs+ and you feel it start to fall over, best to ‘be a man about it’. It makes it a lot easier to accept the crash when you’re confident that your adorable pet is safe and securely strapped in.

Crashes are very rare but what is much much more common are all the stares, waves, smiles, and tons, and tons of selfies from local villagers and urbanites alike. It’s wonderful to brighten someone’s day, although it never fails that they hop out of their air-conditioned car to pose for photos with our cute dog just as I’ve strapped her in and put on my helmet and jacket under the midday sun!

Now we travel all throughout Mexico and Central America from our home base at beautiful Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. And we even publish a video series called ‘on 2 Wheels + 4 Paws’ where our adorably smart dog narrates our travel adventures and shares the lessons she learns along the way!

Motorcycle camping always include playing fetch and sniffing out forest creatures

Sometimes you have to ask the locals for permission before you set up your tent

Moxie is learning to look at the camera but it’s hard to ignore other dogs on the road

Doesn’t Moxie look so Top Gun in her riding goggles?

Ride Ruff on the Road with German Shepherd Moxie