Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Many people around Franklin have witnessed a sight not common, or possibly ever, in Macon County: a dog wearing goggles and silk scarf riding in a motorcycle sidecar.
When Bruce Stephenson special-ordered his made-in-the-USA Janus motorcycle, he had it retrofitted with a sidecar. The 70-year-old said he had a few different reasons for needing a sidecar; primarily he no longer wanted to have to lift a heavy motorcycle. The Janus Halcyon model motorcycle in “Crystal Silver” with gold pinstriping is only 300 pounds, and the sidecar provides stability. But the perk was that the sidecar offered not just a place for his wife, Christina, to ride, but mostly for their dog, Boojum.
The Stephensons moved to Macon County from Atlanta, Ga., and Bruce has been a motorcyclist all his life. The couple is known in the area as “Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus” for their volunteer efforts during Christmas involving distribution of donated stockings and gifts to nursing home facilities, the Rotary Club of Franklin, and more. Lately, though, Bruce is getting recognized because of his dog, who rides confidently beside him donning “doggles,” specially made protective eyewear for dogs who ride in sidecars.
“I didn’t know there was such a thing,” said Bruce. “But when you start looking up sidecars on the Internet, you see dogs sitting in them and you can order the glasses and the scarf for them to wear.”
He added, “Boojum wears them and he’s fine. If I say let’s go for a ride, he jumps right in and is set to go. He enjoys it. He doesn’t try to jump out. He has a harness on and a short leash that connects to an eyebolt on the floorboard of the sidecar. He only really barks at black cows. Not sure why.”
Bruce and Boojum’s longest ride so far has been 20 miles. They mostly cruise around Franklin.
The Stephensons explained that Boojum is a rescue dog, 18 months old, and weighs 80 pounds. When they adopted him from a rescue facility in south Georgia, after their dog of almost 16 years passed away last year, they were told he might be of Leonberger origin, German-bred dogs that can weigh up to 160 pounds.
“His paws were huge,” said Christina. “People guessed that he could also have breeds like Saint Bernard, Great Pyrenees, or Mastiff in him.”
The couple named him Boojum as a nod to the legend of Big Foot, or Sasquatch.
“We did a DNA test; he’s about nine different dogs and it indicated he’s mainly pit bull and dachshund,” said Bruce, laughingly. “We may have to do the test again because we’re not sure how accurate it is.”
To get Boojum’s energy out, the Stephensons take him to Noah’s Playground because he loves the water and can swim in the pool. But Boojum’s other favorite pastime is riding around in the sidecar.
“I get a thumbs up and honking and comments when I go out,” said Bruce. “And people take photos with their cellphones. I have never seen another person riding around on a motorcycle with a sidecar and their dog, so I guess Boojum’s a novelty right now.”