For Rajat Parashar, known on Instagram as Doge Biker, happiness is being on the road on a bike with his 11-year-old dog Maggie. No wonder, then, a tumour diagnosis for the four-legged companion didn’t stop them from experiencing the adventures the country had to offer. We catch up with the pet-parent to learn more about this heartfelt bond and their many journeys. By Debomita De
Travel + Leisure India: When did you start travelling with Maggie? Tell us about your first trip together.
Rajat Parashar: Maggie and I have been travelling together on my scooty for a long time as it calms both of us. But my first proper ride with her was on October 15, 2021 to 64 Yogini Temple (near Bhubaneswar, Odisha). Then, I even got her a customised seat on my bike. That was also a test drive to check if Maggie is comfortable and safe. Although, being an ASI monument, Maggie was not permitted to go to all places at the site, we still enjoyed it.
Travel + Leisure India: What arrangements and precautions do you take for Maggie on your journey?
Rajat Parashar: Initially, I got her a customised seat but it was not the best fit for her. It was small and some of its corners were rough. So, I went for a properly cushioned seat and installed seat belts as well. I’ve made a helmet for her myself, too.
When travelling, I make an itinerary based on the places that welcome here. Next, I prepare a complete list of utilities, like caps, rain coat, cape, jackets, blanket, helmet, cushion, dog food, special water bottle, etc. Lastly, before leaving for any place, I check if she is healthy and active.
Travel + Leisure India: How did the pandemic affect your travels?
Rajat Parashar: Luckily, when we started going on longer trips, there wasn’t any active COVID-19 wave.
Travel + Leisure India: What is your K2K trip all about? What destinations are you planning to cover?
Rajat Parashar: For K2K, I will travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari via the Western Ghats with Maggie as my solo companion. On the way, we will cover all the places that interests us. I will make Maggie leave her paws marks wherever possible!
Travel + Leisure India: Which destination was most pet- friendly?
Rajat Parashar: Most people welcome pets, especially dogs. But, for me, Pahalgam was special. The love and care we received from that place was amazing!
Travel + Leisure India: How do people react when they see you biking with Maggie?
Rajat Parashar: Mostly, excitement and curiosity to know my story. They shower love, take selfies with us, appreciate my idea, and even offer food and stays at discounted prices. The reaction I love the most is when people remember their pets after seeing my bond with Maggie.
Travel + Leisure India: When did you find out about Maggie’s tumour?
Rajat Parashar: Her tumour was diagnosed in January 2021, although she got sick in December 2020.
Travel + Leisure India: What treatment is she going through and how is she responding to it?
Rajat Parashar: She has had a few sessions of chemotherapy. As she was turning weak because of chemotherapy, doctor advised her to get operated. But she is 11 years old and she will not be able to handle such a major surgery at this age. Gwalior doesn’t have very advanced medical facilities either. There is a slight increase in the size of her tumour, but she is active and happy, and enjoys travelling.
Travel + Leisure India: Tell us about your memorable experiences with Maggie?
Rajat Parashar: There are many beautiful moments which Maggie and I have shared. But the most memorable one is the day when I brought her home. She was very hungry. At the time, my sister was eating Maggie and she offered the same to my dog as well. She [the dog] ate all of it happily, and hence we named her Maggie!
Another moment was the day we reached Srinagar. It was -2° Celsius. I almost fainted because of the long ride and the cold weather. Maggie was also tired. So, I sat near Dal Lake, hugging Maggie till we both felt warm again.
Travel + Leisure India: Any advice you would give people who intend to travel with pets?
Rajat Parashar: Not all pets love travelling long distances, so never force them to travel with you. Always consider what your pet loves to do and then act accordingly.
Travel + Leisure India: Where will you travel to next?
Rajat Parashar: Right now, I’m planning Jaisalmer—Gulf of Kutch—Daman—Mumbai.
Travel + Leisure India: Your bucket list destinations?
Rajat Parashar: Right now, my priority is to cover the entire India. Starting with K2K, then from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh. Later, I will try Yakutsk (Russia), Sakha Republic, and Norway. But for now, I’m taking baby steps.
Related: A Tried And Tested Guide To Travel With Your Pets During Pandemic