Eastern Mountain Sports has their annual paddling demo today. I was super excited to get out there and try all sorts of different types of boats to see what one was going to work for HRH Perry and I. Paddling with any dog is challenging, but paddling with a dog that loves the water as much as Perry does is even more of a challenge. He’s been out in a kayak before (a couple of years ago on a lake in the Adirondacks) and really enjoyed it, but I was a little apprehensive to see how he would do in a new park, with tons of people around, lots of activity, without tipping me out of the boat.
When we got to the park we weren’t exactly sure where we were going so we headed off on the trail that seemed to follow the river. Perry was having a grand old time running up and down the hills pulling me behind him. (Note to self; put his harness on him.) We found a low spot on the trail in a cove, so I let him off leash and he promptly and gleefully bounded into the water. Trail dog+water dog=happy dog. After a few minutes of throwing the ball and him bounding in after it we continued on our way. Finally we popped out over the hill to discover the EMS demo day.
After signing the waiver we headed down to the waters edge. John was trying out a sit on top kayak that he could potentially take fishing. Perry and I were first trying out the Wilderness Pungo boat we had been looking at online. Three feet after pushing off from shore; SPLASH! Perry was in. As soon as he jumped in he realized that I was still in the boat, he was in the water, and he was not happy because I was floating/paddling away from him. He swam quickly to the edge of the boat and I hauled him in. Trail dog+water dog= wet mama. I promptly got soaked down to my knickers. Silly beast. We paddled around for a bit, but he just never seemed to settle down in the Wilderness. Plus, I felt like I was paddling around with a cinder block attached to the boat. Wow that thing was heavy. I couldn’t imagine loading it on top of the Glenda. Even if I did get one of the Thule assist systems.
Getting back to shore I saw the other boat I had been looking at online the Hurricane Santee. I had already been in contact with the company asking questions about the handling of the boat and whether it would put up with a dog in the cockpit. They were exceptionally knowledgeable but it still isn’t the same as actually paddling it. I got in, loaded Perry up, and we pushed off. While he thought about jumping in, luckily, he did not. He finally settled down and started to enjoy the paddle. This boat not only sat lower in the water, but it paddled much easier. Perry seemed to like it a bit better too, finally settling in and actually enjoying himself. I think that the EMS staff were very impressed at not only how well behaved he was, but how well he handled being in the boat. While we will have to come up with some commands for him to get him in and out of the boat, overall, he did exceptionally well.
While I was off getting soaked by Perry, John, was off trying out paddle boards and other boats. He had a grand old time and walked away much drier than I did. I know he was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t try the SUP that he was most interested in, but he still managed to have a grand old time.
When both of us were done trying boats out it was time to let Perry have a bit of a swim. There were two docks on either side of the launch site and in between SUPers and kayakers heading out into the river John and I took turns tossing the ball off the end of the dock and allowing Perry to throw himself off the dock and into the water. There were more than a few people who were getting an absolute hoot out of watching him race to the end of the dog and launch off of the end. All for his tennis ball. Silly boy.
At the end of the day I was wet, Perry was wet, John was dry, but I now know one of the boats I don’t want to consider. I have one more boat I want to try in June; the Jackson Ibis. Once I try that one out I will be able to figure out what type of kayak I want to get. Progress has been made though, I know what I don’t want and sometimes that is the hardest part of the decision making process.