OUTER CAPE PORTRAIT / Companions
JOHN QUIGLEY & LEILA / LONGBOARDERS / PROVINCETOWN
If you are in Provincetown, you might have seen a brown and white Huskie pulling her human on a longboard, or perhaps Leila was on the front of the board, dancing with excitement. John Quigley is a handyman in Provincetown. When Leila was younger, they took off on an incredible adventure.
I think I've been riding long boards since probably the sixth grade. Learning how to longboard, it's tricky. Longboarding is exciting, right up until you hit the ground. It's not, if you're gonna fall, it's when you're gonna fall. I find that I can get injured going slow, two miles an hour. Any little rock, a crevice, oil slick, a banana. There's so many things that can go wrong with skateboarding. I learned how to tuck and roll and fall at a very young age. But sometimes you actually don't get the chance to hit the ground the right way. That's when it hurts.
I've trained quite a few dogs growing up. Leila was going to be a special project. Seeing how I was already longboarding, to me, it was just common sense to train her to pull. And after I trained her to pull, I kind of realized, Hey, I want to go further than what she can pull. You know, she gets tired after pulling me. So while she was a little fur ball, I was like, we're going to train her to ride the board. So I would make her pull until she was too tired to pull anymore. And when she sat down, I made her sit on the board, and I pushed our way home. That's how she became comfortable.
One of the big issues with training a dog to run beside you, whether it's on a skateboard or a bike is if they see another dog, or if they see another cat, you have to have a command. And for Leila, I tell her to run straight. Typically I have to see these animals and squirrels before her. And I will give her that command in a rather deep tone. So then when she notices a squirrel, she knows I'm already on her to run straight.
Over the years, I've been battling with Leila over her balancing. So, in the beginning, she just would like to wiggle her butt. She's so happy riding, but when she's wiggling she's actually falling off the board. Nowadays, she wants to dance with their front paws on the board with excitement. Well, it has pretty adverse effects! She's going from one paw to the other Paw. So, if I'm going down a hill and my front end is wiggling, I can deal with it and kind of rebalance it. But yeah, it's not as fun, not at higher speeds.
She really does stay focused, looking for cars coming, or people. She's done a real good job over the years avoiding accidents by jumping off at the right time. Cause she knows things can change in a heartbeat.
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Well, if you train a Husky to do long distance, I guess she has to take a long distance run. So, a friend of mine invited me to Florida to work on his house. I went to Florida with my Husky and a couple of long boards. I decided I was going to longboard home from Florida. So I actually had to build the board. I didn't have a board big enough.
Florida was all flat land, so we probably did 50 miles a day. A friend had given me a tent and a sleeping bag. So I just found people willing to let me sleep in their field or yard, or maybe I didn't have permission to sleep where I was, but somewhere on the side of the road.
In the lower States, I had some good experiences with people like that. Southern hospitality in the Bible belt. One morning I just woke up and I'm on the side of the highway, and this guy pulls up in a truck and he's like, God told me to give you this. And I'm like, why? And he handing me a hundred dollar bill and boom, he just drives away. I'm like, wow!
So, most of my travel was either on Route 1 or Route1A right up the East coast of America. Route 1, it can go from a real nice country road and then it can instantly turn into a major highway. Yeah. I got trapped in New Jersey on Route One. The side of the road usually has like a little area, but this one section, there was nothing. It was guard rail to the lane. And I found myself looking at 18 wheelers coming down and not getting out of my way. So, eventually it got real late at night, and there was hardly any traffic. So I said, I'm going to go for it. And I got beyond that part, but that was one of the scary moments.
When I got up further North, the weather changed, and it turned into a lot of urban neighborhoods by then. It was the end of March, and it was still freezing at night. I slept in the hedges and the bushes of a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. So, when I woke up in the morning, I'd be right there for a hot coffee. Leila just slept on the ground. I was hanging in Pennsylvania for a few days, Leila needed some rest, and I needed to rest, and there was a snow storm coming. If you can keep ahead of a storm, you know, more power to you. And I told my friend, I'm taking off right now.
And I got to New Jersey, And I really didn't know where I was, but eventually it started to snow.And just as the roads got un-rideable on a snowboard, I mean on a long board, I, asked someone where the train station was, and I was a block away. So, I jumped on the train, got to New York, and it never snowed. I ended up spending the weekend waiting for somebody to come get me in New York, because I had to be back here in Ptown to do construction work.
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Leila is ten this year. Yeah. As far as another trip, I definitely think Leila is a little bit too old. Well, when we go out and go on skateboard runs, she's definitely slower. I think in the future, she'll be on the board more. I guess if she's going to retire riding on the board, that's fine with me.
In the past 20 years, I've been training kids, young teenagers, to long board. You know, there's a couple of reasons behind it. One is because I want a ride, and I need to train them how to ride with me. But the other thing is long boarding has been a form of sobriety for me. I've always been this kind of crazy out of control person my whole life.
You know, there's only one God-given drug, and it's called adrenaline. When you're longboarding, it's, you know, the high that you're looking for and getting, because you are at times riding on the edge of control and out of control. With the kids, I try to get that point across to them that, you know, this is why I'm doing this. This is a positive way of doing something physical and healthy, mostly, right up until you hit the ground.