In the summer of ‘08, we decided to get an “emergency backup puppy” to soften the blow for when Abby passes on to the great dog couch in the sky. Rosie could not be more different from Abby. She’s exuberant, she’s cuddly, and as it turns out, she’s a true Water Dog.
I was nervous about getting Rosie near water. Abby had a bad start and completely swore off any water that wasn’t in her bowl.
One day, young Rosie saw a dog swimming near a dock. Her toenails clicked back and forth along the dock, intently observing the swimming Lab.
And then she jumped!
I saw her disappear under the water for a second, and then her little brain kicked in and she started swimming happily around the other dog,trying to steal his toy. Whew! I learned that getting her in the water was easy. Getting her out was harder.
Getting her in a canoe was harder still.
Rosie is a spooky creature. Anything new, especially if it might—maybe—move, is hard for her to take. (For months, she was terrified of ordinary doors.) We had to do a lot of conditioning to get her near, then in the canoe. Luckily, she is eternally hungry, and quite willing to work/learn for biscuits.
The key to a good dog experience while paddling is much the same as with a kid. A tired dog is a good dog. She’ll put up with 25 minutes of paddling and then expect a good 15 minutes of running along the shore. Then we can get 35 minutes of paddling and give her 10 minutes of racing at the water’s edge. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually she runs out of gas (about the same time as any children who might be along) and turns into cute, wet, furry ballast. Then, it’s a Kodak moment.
I love having a real Water Dog. We go out whenever we can for a whole day on the river and return burnt, tired, smelling of wet dog, and smiling ear to ear. It’s a blessing for us all.
If your dog is a little less of a real Water Dog, Rutabaga has dog pfds.