I’ve ridden with a lot of dogs in my past, but I’ve never actually had my own riding dog. By the time I fell in love with mountain biking my old girl was past her prime with the beginning signs of arthritis. She’s been gone now for three years. She was 17 when I finally put her down, and I was a pregnant, emotional mess.

Now my kids will grow up with a riding dog.

Little JoJo came to us yesterday. She’s a shelter dog; brown with a white chest and a little white goatee. She’s part Lab, part Pointer, and just a furry ball of sweetness. At eight weeks and nine pounds she can already chase the wheel of a toddler shredding on the pump track.

It’s the first thing we did when we got into our back yard with her. As soon as my three-year-old gathered a little speed on the straight-a-way, JoJo came to a complete halt from across the yard, perked up her ears, got a bead on him, and came running. This caused Wyatt to screech in laughter and try to get away, which only encouraged the pursuit.

When the eight-year-old saw this, he had to join the fun, getting his own bike out. JoJo was ready for the challenge and took off after him too, tail wagging, tongue lolling out to one side, and eyes all big and wild. I’ve seen that look before – on Cotton Ball, who is the fastest and cutest riding dog of all time. Cotton will make sure everyone in the group is still together, sweeping the trail and then picking each rider off until he’s caught up with his daddy again. He never gets close enough to get caught in a wheel or pedal (except for that one time…sorry CB), and will cut a corner if he has to get around. The cheater. He’s really the only one I get to ride with because the boys are always long gone. We’ve had some good talks. He’s also heard me have some deep conversations with my bike. And my lungs.

The next step is taking JoJo to the woods, which the boys are very excited about. For the two weeks we waited for our puppy to be old enough to come to us, we had nightly fishing and camping stories about her. Today Wyatt clapped his hands in glee about taking her to the woods this weekend. It will be a great way to get Wyatt to pedal faster on his new bike. Now that he’s mastered his Stryder, it was time for pedals. The pedals made him really mad at first because he kept hitting the coaster brake. He didn’t want to do it until he met four-year-old Kyley on her Barbie Big Wheel. It was like she wore a halo of gummy worms the way he fell in love with her and chased her across the park. He hasn’t had a problem with that coaster brake since.