WooFDriver is the nickname of Bill Helman, an animal advocate and outdoorsman who has devoted his life to dogs. Bill has owned huskies for two decades and has developed his own brand of Urban Mushing, incorporating specialized equipment, one-of-a-kind bikes, and his own sense of fun. He calls this “WooFDriving.”
A serial optimist, Bill is on a quest to help people make positive changes in their lives (and their animals’ lives).In addition to dogs, he is passionate about martial arts and its teachings, technology, nature, health, and history. He hopes that by sharing his experiences and knowledge, he will encourage others to find their sense of adventure.
In addition to Urban Mushing, Bill raises money for animal welfare organizations. He is dedicated to helping animals in need and uses attention gained via WooFDriving to do so.
This desire to honor animals led Bill to become director of the Presidential Pet Museum. This position allows him to combine his love of history with his desire to shine a spotlight on the animals who enrich our lives.
Urban Mushing—also known as “bikejoring”—is a recreational activity wherein dogs are trained to pull a bicycle as they might a sled. Some mushers place the dogs ahead of the bike. Others—including Bill—attach them alongside the bike.
Three Siberian Huskies named Princess, Chase, and Jag, and one dog named Zarro who is a mix of Husky and Alaskan Malamute, accompany Bill on his adventures.
Siberian Huskies have a long history as sled dogs. During the gold rush in the early 1900’s, Siberian Huskies were brought to Alaska to mush in the All Alaska Sweepstakes–a 408-mile race. The Huskies gained instant popularity because they were (and still are) amazingly fast. They are the most common dog to run in the Iditarod, the sled race that takes place yearly in Alaska.
Alaskan Malamutes are commonly confused with Huskies. They share a similar history as sled dogs, but because Malamutes are more strong than they are fast, historically they were primarily used for pulling freight instead of racing.
Bill’s favorite trails are soft, in paved paths that take him past both beautiful scenery and historic landmarks. He has traveled the Great Allegheny Passage, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and many other routes and trails in the mid-Atlantic region. He has also taken the dogs on trips to the Assateague National Seashore, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and Washington, D.C.
Bill enjoys capturing the highlights of his adventures in interesting and creative ways and he extensively documents them for the benefit of himself and others. As a result of his experimentation, he has an impressive inventory of gear, and he’s become quite the expert in some of the newest technologies available.
The dogs’ health and well-being being Bill’s primary concern, he has designed several products for them, including a misting system to cool the dogs when they are running in warmer temperatures.
For a more in-depth look at the products the WooFDriver uses, take a look at The Equipment page.
Including his bikes (a.k.a., “ADVs”, or “All Dog Vehicles”), which have been custom-built for mushing on different terrains, over the years the WooFDriver has built up a vast fleet of vehicles for all his various dog-related activities.
He has scooters and ATVs for when the dogs are off-leash; the “Dog Bus” for day-to-day dog transport; and a Ford Excursion called the “Jumbo Jet,” which is capable of holding all the dogs, people, and gear he may need on his adventures. The Jumbo Jet is actually a combination of two trucks welded together!
Each mode of transportation has a unique purpose. The WooFDriver puts a lot of thought into the execution of their design and incorporates the latest technology whenever possible so that they run smoothly, operate safely and efficiently, and look cool to boot.
Bill got involved with urban mushing largely by happy accident (and definitely by necessity).
It started in 1996 with Czar Bear (seen above). Bill brought Czar Bear home and learned quickly that huskies indeed live up to their reputation for being an energetic breed, and his journey to becoming an urban musher was borne from the need to get some of Czar Bear’s energy out.
Bill started out with a bike and a tether. Attached to the bike, Czar Bear would run alongside Bill for long distances, and Bill could see the change in the husky almost immediately. Czar Bear was so much happier and satisfied when he ran, and Bill loved the rides, too. They both loved being out in nature running the trails.
It wasn’t long before another husky named Hudson, joined the pack, and with the new pack member came the need for a new ride. Bill found the Sacco cart, made in Norway, which he used to run both dogs, but his imagination began churning. It wasn’t long before he started designing specialized rigs to take the dogs running.
Czar Bear and Hudson have passed on, but Bill has a veritable fleet of carts, which he runs with his pack of four dogs. Bill still loves being out on the trails, and he has lots of adventures to share.
No man is an island. In other words, YES! Bill has lots of help.
Bill has a team of people that assist him. He calls the WoofPak, and they help plan and execute trips. They also navigate, document, and help handle and care for the dogs. While they all do their best to avoid pitfalls, things happen. Whether it’s an unexpected trail closure or a flat tire, the WooFPak crew is there to ensure Bill and the dogs have the best trip possible.
No. Huskies are a very energetic breed. They love to run, but they are often uninterested in playing fetch or engaging in the type of play other breeds may enjoy. Urban mushing allows huskies to get exercise in a safe, controlled way. The dogs wear special harnesses designed for the activity, and they are extensively trained to obey the musher’s commands.
Bill’s bikes also include small, battery-powered motors to reduce the stress on the dogs. The motor allows the dogs to trot easily alongside without having to pull the full weight of the bike and its cargo. If a dog is tired, Bill will harness him or her to a specialized seat on the back of the bike, allowing that dog time to rest.
The WooFDriver has designed his bikes and systems so that, believe it or not, even very small dogs like his Chinese Crested, Gigi, get out and run. There are plenty of activities you and your dog can get involved in together. The WooFDriver hopes you will use this website as a guide to help you get started.
In addition to being an urban musher, Bill is the director of the Presidential Pet Museum, which was established in 1999 as a means of preserving information, artifacts, and items related to the presidential pets in an educational and fun way. In his role as museum director, Bill gets to share his love of animals, history, and the outdoors with people from around the world.
Bill has always had a creative and active imagination, and whether it’s adventures on the trail or endeavors of the mind, he likes to keep active and make stuff happen. He is an optimist and an entrepreneur, and he has started several successful business ventures. Currently, he owns a small pet product business with his wife.
Passionate about sharing his ideas, Bill has multiple websites where you can see some of his projects. For example:
Inspired by his dogs and adventures, Bill has written hundreds of dog-related songs, which you can find on WoofTunes.
At WoofTek, you can learn all about the equipment Bill uses from drones, to cameras, to computers, and more.
At Dog Wears Camera, Bill has filmed the world from the dog’s perspective so you can get a sneak peek at the world from a dog’s point of view.
To get the full scope, check out WikiWoof where you will find a comprehensive list of Bill’s projects.
Bill, who is dyslexic, is a pun-loving, fun-loving guy, who likes to play with words, whether it’s by toying with their sound, meaning, capitalizations, or spelling. Regardless of the struggles dyslexia has presented him, creativity has always been a strength for Bill. In all his projects, you will find wordplay, and he has developed a vocabulary that’s uniquely his own.
Huskies are descendants of wolves, so ‘woof’ is a play on ‘wolf,’ and the sound a dog makes. ‘Driver’ comes from the term ‘sled driving’. Put them together and what do you have? WooFDriver!