Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, we have kicked into full summer mode, which means time for more after-work adventures and more training with the pups. One would think that having two dogs of the same breed would make for similar training experiences, but Riley and Kona couldn’t be more different in their learning styles and motivators.
When Riley was young, he was laid back and mellow for an Australian shepherd. Craving mental stimulation more than physical exercise, he’d learn behaviors and tricks within a day. Training Riley was a breeze; he was and still is very much motivated by food, and he has an incredible thirst for learning and working to please me.
At 15 months, Kona, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She’s that crazy obsessive Aussie that NEVER stops. She barks, bounces off the walls, drops toys at my feet all day long, and seems blessed with the endurance that would make a cheetah jealous. She has little to no interest in learning silly tricks like Riley, isn’t motivated by food, and has even less interest in working to please. After spending six years working with Riley, the easiest dog ever, Kona left me scratching my head – this dog needs a different approach.
One of the first things I learned about Kona is that she has a natural drive to retrieve. The second thing I learned is that birds absolutely fascinate her. Aha! Frisbee! So we bought her a Hydro Plane, and sure enough she LOVES catching it – and she’s stinking good at it. She’s super fast, and when she leaps into the air you can see her using every muscle in her body at 120%. Kona runs and catches the disc for the pure joy of it. She’s self-motivated, and that’s a nice change.
But throwing the Hydro Plane isn’t enough. Kona has endurance, and I want her to keep it, plus I want to improve my own. Riley never had a whole lot of interest in running, and now knowing he has hip dysplasia, I don’t want to push him. So Kona is motivating me to become a trail runner. I’ve always wanted a running partner, and I think I’ve found one. We are lucky to have several small trail systems close to our house, perfect for starting small and working each other up to more miles. Or should I say training myself to keep up with Kona?
It’s fun to spend time with each dog individually. It gives them a chance to bond with me separately, and it varies my outdoor adventures. Riley is the original “sup pup,” and while Kona has learned to ride on my paddleboard too, it will remain Riley’s main activity with me this summer. Riley will get to spend time keeping his legs strong by swimming and enjoy exploring new bodies of water with me. The crazy Kona will get to exhaust herself on the trails as we build endurance and continue to work on her training.
In between paddling and running, the pups and I will be traveling to promote our book, How to SUP With Your PUP. Here are a few events we have planned for the summer:
June 1 – ACA’s Paddle Green event, Rappahannock Riverfest in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We’ll be giving SUP demos, and maybe even racing.
In mid June, we’ll be teaching SUP PUP classes to help other pups and their humans get out on the water together safely.
June 30 – July 6 – Paddling trip to New York. We’ll be hitting some major bodies of water, including the Susquehanna River, the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, and the Niagara River.
In August, we’ll be heading to Summersville Lake in West Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.
As we schedule more trips, we’ll be sure to keep you all updated.