I was enjoying a lakeside sunset on the deck reflecting on the day when my neighbor glided by on a kayak with her dog, Jake, standing sentry up front.
As she rowed, the rhythmic back and forth of her paddle didn’t seem to deter Jake. He stood rigid on the bough, taking in the landscape ahead.
The sight of Jake couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face as I thought just how perfectly paired pets and the water can be. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes not so much.
Most of our dogs loved to go on boat rides. We used to have to spell out the word, B-O-A-T, if we wanted to take a petless ride. If you didn’t, they recognized the word and would beat you to the door.
Scooter was like Jake. She loved the sentry stance in the runabout we used to have. She didn’t like to swim, but oh, did she love to ride. And she wanted to be the first to see what was up ahead. She took her rightful perch up front, much like a hood ornament for the boat.
Daily was the opposite. Although he liked to ride, swimming was his thing. It came naturally. He was a Lab, but not just any Lab, he was sneaky. If he wasn’t sneaking up behind friends and family to give them a not so gentle nip at the back of their leg, he was sneaking up on ducks that that dared to swim in the water fronting our property.
Daily would stand on the boat ramp, wait on ducks to swim by at the water’s edge and as they passed our pier, he would gently slip into the water behind them.
I’ve never seen a dog move so quietly in the water. It was a like a stealth bomber just before the attack. He never did quite catch up with them, probably on purpose, he just liked the thrill of the hunt.
Then there was Bo, the Norwegian Elkhound. He was out of his geographic element, no doubt, in the deep South. He would wade down the boat ramp until the water was up to his hips and then he would just stand there, cooling off for what seemed like an hour.
He liked to ride on the boat – a little bit. He swam – not at all. So, when he did ride, he was none too comfortable. One day as we were pulling into the pier, he was anxious to get off, so he jumped toward the pier, missed it by a paw or two, and that frantic look in his eyes told us he didn’t know how to dog paddle either.
I did the only thing I could do in this situation. I jumped off the front, grabbed him like a lifeguard would a child and pulled him to safety.
Bo was our high anxiety dog, and that – as you can guess – was Bo’s last ride.
As we head out on the water, it’s one of those scenes I never grow tired of spotting. I’ve seen a dog on the back of a paddleboard. I’ve seen a dog with his own personal life vest on a personal watercraft. And I’ve seen four-footed friends on swims and dives too numerous to count.
But as I reminisce about the long line of dogs and boat stories I have experienced or witnessed, I realize they are as much a part of this lakelife as we are.
LakeLife 24/7. It’s how you want to live. And it seems, they do, too.