The person who coined the phrase "a dog's life" to mean a miserable, unhappy existence never met Waffles.
The female American Great Dane, who turned 1 on April 8, is a dog-park social butterfly, a paddle-boarder and a rising star on social media thanks to her frequent travels with "dad" Ryan Bauman in the sidecar of his motorcycle. She's on Instagram as waffles_p2k, Twitter @WafflesP2K and Facebook @WafflesP2K.
Bauman, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, has had motorcycles before, but bought a 2018 Ural Gear Up specifically to ride with Waffles. In fair weather, she's his passenger when he rides to the Bangs Avenue company he owns, Plastics 2000. They also tool around town a lot, he in his helmet, she in harness, ear muffs, Rex Specs goggles, and — on longer excursions — something on her nose to prevent sunburn.
They've had the Ural only a month and a half, but that's been long enough for Waffles to become a bit of a celebrity around town. "She gets free stuff left and right," Bauman said. At Yogurt Mill, she scored a frozen treat with a dog biscuit stuck in it. At a fast-food drive-through, the employee asked if Waffles liked bacon and, told yes, brought her six strips.
Waffles likes roundabouts and other turns, riding at night (no squinting into the sun) and going down McHenry Avenue, Bauman said. "It's a little slower pace and she just likes looking at people and getting attention," he said.
When the pair are out and about, they always draw the attention of the pup-arazzi — people taking photos and videos. As Waffles was being secured in the sidecar Monday afternoon in front of Plastics 2000, a woman walked up and asked if she could shoot a picture. "Go for it," Bauman said.
At stoplights, parents will roll down windows to let their kids talk to Waffles, he said. "She'll look right at them." It seems any time someone tries to surreptitiously take a candid shot without getting the dog's attention, it fails. "She'll catch you. She'll look right over and stare at you." That's why in most photos, she's looking right at the camera, he said.
"It looks pretty ridiculous," Bauman admitted of the gangly, goggled girl sitting in the sidecar. "I can see why (people want photos). I’d be getting out my camera and trying to take a picture, too, if I saw that going down the road."
On the topic of ridiculous, that name: Waffles.
Bauman, 33 and single, adopted the dog toward the end of summer, he said. "Once I saw her, I was trying to find something silly (to name her). A friend suggested food names, and once they said Waffles, I thought, 'Perfect.' Perfect but clumsy, which fits her."
As he was calling her clumsy, Waffles let out a loud woof, as if understanding and protesting. It was the only bark the laid-back pooch let out while getting ready for her ride Monday.
After deciding to get a motorcycle and sidecar for his new best friend, Bauman got Waffles used to riding in the open air by pulling her in a children's bike stroller when he'd ride trails. Months before putting her in the sidecar, he got her used to wearing goggles in his car. "She's been pretty chill about everything."
Even the sound of the motorcycle didn't rattle Waffles, Bauman said, because the plastic fabrication business can get pretty loud. Still, he has her wear muffs in the Ural to keep her ears from flopping around and to dampen the sound. "There's a lot of piston slapping and not so pleasant noise that comes off the engine," he said. While the cycle is new and fuel-injected, it's mostly "old tech, like mechanical lifters you have to adjust every 3,000 miles or so."
Though his motorcycle experience includes superbikes and trail bikes, the Ural is the first time Bauman's had a sidecar, and there was a brief learning curve. "It's a lot different than riding just a motorcycle, but it was a lot easier than I thought," he said. "When you brake, it pulls one way, and when you accelerate, it pulls the other. But after two or three days, I didn't notice it."
Now, they regularly ride out to the Oakdale Dog Park on Crane Road and even took a Santa Cruz trip in which Waffles logged at least three hours a day in the sidecar for three days.
For future road trips, Bauman is working on a windscreen and a padded spot for Waffles to rest her head. He hopes those will help with something the Rex Specs and Mutt Muffs can't: Waffles' lips flapping in the wind and bouncing up and down. "Imagine that over four hours or so," he said.
Bauman's mom, Vicki, said her "granddog," as she calls Waffles, is so fun to watch and be with. "She's a crack-up."
She added, "The only thing about Great Danes is they don't live very long — about eight years."
Ryan Bauman is making sure that life is full of activity. Currently, he's working to get Waffles certified as a therapy dog. That way, "as we travel, we can stop at children's hospitals," he said.
The breed rates five stars across the board in temperament with babies, children, other dogs, Bauman said. "She's just super-nice and friendly. And she pays attention. If it's a little kid, she won't jump. If it's an adult, she might try to jump up for a hug."
Who could possibly mind?
For an interview with Waffles and Bauman on the Ural Motorcycles website, click here.