June Dog Tale of the Month – Tiki Dog Learns to Paddle

from: Lauren and Tiki

location: Central Oregon

As long as I’ve lived in Bend, I’ve seen people on the lakes and rivers with their well-behaved dogs on boats and been envious. Since Tiki has been mountain biking and trail running with me this past year, he wants to go every where I go, and he gets bummed out when he’s left at home. This spring, I decided to take Tiki out in the kayak, even though he’d never been in a boat before.

First, I made sure I had a good life jacket for him. I picked out a Ruff Wear Portage in fern green. It fits him snugly but not constricting. He’s not the best swimmer in the world, so I wanted him to be safe in case he fell in the water or the kayak flipped.

Lauren paddles down the Deschutes with Tiki Dog
Lauren and Tiki Paddle the Deschutes

We went down to a kayak put-in on the Deschutes River where I could take Tiki in the water first, to get him acquainted with the life jacket. He didn’t seem too fazed by wearing it in the water. I got in the kayak first and settled in. Then Tiki was lifted in. We sat in the boat together for a few minutes, getting used to the gentle rocking caused by the wake. I thought for sure he would jump out, but he stayed put.

Now came the moment of truth – the launch. I still wasn’t sure how Tiki would do once we got out on the water and added the swaying of the paddle with the motion of the kayak tracking against the current. He was curious – sniffing the air, watching the ducks and geese (on the same level as he was), seeing other boaters go by. I talked to him the whole time, telling him what a good dog he was, and how much fun we were having.

I didn’t want to take him too far the first time, in case he wanted out of the boat. We paddled about 20 minutes and then I turned the boat around. He got a little nervous, moving around, and leaning into me, causing the boat to tip ever so slightly. I kept talking (and singing) to him until we made it back to the dock. He was very happy to be back on shore, and ran to chomp on a stick he had found.

Since that went so well, we went back out a few days later. We went to the same put-in and paddled around the same part of the river. Tiki seemed much more at ease the second time around. Upon our arrival back at the dock, the brave Tiki Dog decided to dive out of the kayak and swim back to shore. He swam like a champ thanks to his Float Coat.

My plans for this summer include taking Tiki up to the high Cascade Lakes and paddling around for a few hours at a time. With a little time he’ll learn to just lay down and enjoy the ride. There’s nothing better than sharing the adventure with my dog.

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