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Cross-country charity rider brings canine company

Riding a bicycle across the country to raise money for a charity isn't a new idea, but one cyclist passing through Canmore this week is doing it with his four-legged friend.

Sean Tollington and his husky are raising money for Smile Train

Sean Tollington and his dog Laika are riding across Canada to raise money for Smile Train, a charity that provides cleft lip surgery in developing countries. (CBC)

Riding a bicycle across the country to raise money for a charity isn’t a new idea, but one cyclist passing through Canmore this week is doing it with his four-legged friend.

Sean Tollington and his husky Laika set out from Toronto last month on a no-frills commuter bike aiming to go all the way to Victoria.

He’s raising money for the Smile Train, a group that pays for pediatric cleft-lip surgeries in developing countries.

"What stuck out about this charity that made me want to support them is that every $250 that I raise will pay for a surgery for cleft lip," he said.

Bringing his husky was a matter of necessity — Tollington didn’t have a dog sitter.

The three-year-old doesn’t like riding in the trailer behind her owner, preferring to run alongside his bike. Trouble is, she’s no greyhound.

"She'll only run about seven or eight kilometres an hour, which is pretty slow," he said. 

But she is a great conversation starter as Tollington tries to reach his goal of raising $15,000 for Smile Train.

And even though Laika alternates between slowing him down and weighing him down, Tollington said the companionship makes them both happy.

"I can't read a dog's mind but I would imagine that nothing could make them happier than being with their owner, like all day long," Tollington said.

Sean Tollington is bringing his furry companion with him as he cycles from Toronto to Victoria for charity. (CBC)
Laika prefers to run alongside Tollington rather than ride in the trailer behind his bike. (CBC)