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Blazing Saddles: Pedalling with Polar

This month marks the one year anniversary of the death of my little dog and enthusiastic cy­cling companion named Polar. He died a slow death, probably from doggie meningitis, dur­ing which he progressively lost his power of locomotion and ability to eat and finally went to sleep on a Thursday morning in his basket next to me as I sat writing at my computer.

Sunday 17 November 2019, 03:00PM

It was a sadly ironic death for such an active and enthusiastic little soul, and it hit me hard. In fact only now, a year later, do I feel strong and recovered enough to actually write this article and quasi-obituary about some of our cycling adventures together.

Polar arrived on planet Earth in late 2014 via the good graces of his Chihuahua mother Khun Sausage who was out walking with me one evening on Chalong Beach where we used to live. I turned my back for a couple of minutes, during which time Khun Sausage was amorously set upon by a roguish French poodle named Hero who lived on the beach. Sure enough, some nine weeks later Khun Sausage gave birth to four little sacks of life, each about the size of a shrivelled chipolata!

We nurtured these blessed arrivals, and after about three months the day came when we’d planned give three of the litter to our friends for adoption, keeping just one female puppy named Cutie. But when the time came, I found I just couldn’t bring myself to part with little Polar.

Polar was so named because he looked like a miniature version of that iconic Arctic bear. He was like a lovely little fluffy bear, but he was not exactly the most intelligent doggie in the world. He also had a canine tooth on one side which was too big to fit into his hairy little jaw, and so he tended to bound about, tooth protruding, like a dement­ed Dracula.

All things considered, I decided that this cold, hard world was just too harsh a place for Polar to face without me, so I staged a dramatic nervous breakdown one evening so that my partner Pattie would agree to keeping Polar within our family menagerie, in addition to his hairy little sister Cutie. It was an in­spired act, as Polar quickly became my main go-to cycling companion and all-round right-hand man… er, dog.

What he lacked in intelligence, Polar more than made up for with unbounded enthusiasm, energy and an endless na­ive curiosity about this strange planet upon which he found himself. He was always at the gate waiting to join me on any junket, be it a hike over Promthep Cape or merely a quotidian saunter to the local Tesco Lotus.

One evening I took Polar In the car along with my mountain bike on its bike rack up to Bang Wad Dam. After a walk with Polar so he could do his vari­ous bits of doggie business, I unloaded the bike and put Polar into a backpack, his hairy little head protruding into the evening air. Off we set around the dam, with Polar on my back, nodding his hairy little head in a sort of grand pa­pal salute to the highly agitated pack of soi dogs who bounded along behind us hoping to get their teeth into him.

QSI International School Phuket

Polar thought this was a marvel­lous way of seeing the world, and so he made it very clear that henceforth he was going to join me on all my cycling adventures.

Over the next three years, we shared some epic escapades together: up to Khao Sok National Park where he was chased by a tribe of macaques; to the floating cottages on Cheow Lan Lake; island-hopping by bike and boat around the islands of Phang Nga Bay; and cir­cumnavigating Koh Lanta by bike.

Polar was not the most athletic, handsome or intelligent dog that’s ever lived, but what he lacked in natural gifts he made up for in an unending torrent of enthusiasm, fun and love. He was the epitome of that overused French commodity “joie de vivre”. Every moment of his all-too-short existence he was truly grateful just to be alive. A lesson for us all.

So now at last you have your obitu­ary my wonderful little cycling buddy, and I can finally say R.I.P.

Ride In Peace!

“Bicycling” Baz Daniel fell off his first bicycle aged three... a case of love at first slight. Since then he has spent a further 65 years falling on and off bicycles all over the world, but his passion endures. When not in traction, he found time to become Senior VP of the world’s largest advertising and communications group, finally retiring to Phuket in 2006. He has been penning his Blazing Saddles column, chronicling his cycling adven­tures in Phuket and beyond, since 2013.

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