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Megan Card, Published July 18 2012

Doggie on board: NDSU student's scooter-riding pooch draws attention

FARGO – Suspended from a motorized scooter, 1-year-old Rigby sticks his head out of a pink duffle bag carrier and yawns.

The pampered pooch is no stranger to riding alongside his owner, 20-year-old Jade Monroe, and their unique companionship is grabbing the attention of local pet lovers.

The North Dakota State University student crafted a homemade carrier from an old gym bag, using cardboard to reinforce the bottom. When she drives by with Rigby at her side, people are constantly pulling double takes.

“Some woman actually dropped her bag in surprise,” Monroe said. “Then she started yelling at me about how cute he was.”

Monroe has been toting the half-Maltese, half-miniature poodle on her Yamaha Zuma for three months. She said her pooch is quickly becoming a conversation starter for passing pet owners, many wondering how she gets Rigby to stay calm on the roadway.

“I always tell them to never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement,” she said. “I used to drive slowly around the NDSU parking lot to get him used to the idea and I’d give him a treat for staying in the bag.”

Monroe, who relies on Teddy Grahams in exchange for good behavior, said she wanted to make sure to integrate the 20-pound puppy into her life as much as she could.

A gift from her boyfriend, fellow NDSU student Derek Vogel, 21, Rigby has acted like a bridge to people she never would have spoken to in the past, Monroe said.

“An older man stopped to talk to me (Tuesday) while I was by the dam, and told me about how he had lost his wife five years ago,” Monroe said. “He told me he bought a dog after her death, and how he could not imagine life without his furry pal.”

The 20-year-old and her snowy white pooch also caught the eye of Cristen Voeltz, owner of Hot Dog Pet Salon.

“She pulled up right in front of my shop, and I was immediately excited,” Voeltz said. “I only wish I could bring my greyhound along with me like that, but he’s 80 pounds, so I’d need a sidecar.”

Monroe takes Rigby with her to work at the NDSU entomology lab and while running errands around town.

Rigby also accompanies her to Wasabi Sushi and Asian Grill in downtown Fargo, where she is a regular, to the delight of Anna Renner, manager of Drunken Noodle and fellow animal enthusiast.

“I didn’t even notice at first that she had a dog; he is so well-trained,” Renner said. “It’s great to see pet owners so connected to their animals.”