Ever since bringing Kato home at the end of last summer, I’ve been eagerly awaiting his first kayaking experience! I wasn’t sure how he would take to it. I read a few things online, but as with most dog advice I find, it seemed fairly self explanatory and almost like too much worrying for something that didn’t need to be a big deal! I just decided to try it out and see how he did. Two things I did read were that you should give the dog practice being in the kayak with it on land and give the dog practice with wearing his/her life vest. Because I live 150 miles from my kayak (it stays at my parents’ house because I don’t have anywhere to store it at my apartment in VA), Kato didn’t have time to practice hanging out in the kayak. While loading the kayaks up Saturday morning with my sister and boyfriend, I sat in it and had Kato come in with me. He got right in and sat between my legs, so things were already looking good! Once we got to the spot where we were going to kayak, I placed my own life vest on Kato (mainly just for a laugh) and he wore it around like no big deal! It just made me laugh to think how people said they had to get their dogs used to wearing one for months. I’m sure he would definitely need practice swimming in a real one, but that will have to wait until I get him one. Also, I shouldn’t really talk because other dog owners might be side-eyeing the fact that my dog doesn’t always behave super well when left home alone….so I digress.
When I run with Kato, I use a belt attachment on me connected to a harness on him. This ended up being the perfect length between us while I sat on the seat in the kayak and had him sit between my legs. At first I had his regular leash attached to his collar too, (I really wanted him to be safe and secure!) but that was just overkill and I ended up taking it off almost immediately. He got right in and sat down between my legs and stayed right there for me! It was sooo cute. Alicia was paddling up ahead and called out a duck warning, as we all now how much Kato loves ducks…as in, loves to maniacally chase them! We came around a small bend in a very shallow part of the stream, and Kato hopped out and started pulling me toward the ducks! Haha! It was actually a fun way to get around. After a little bit of that, I helped him back in (he used the side of the creekbed to get high enough to jump back in – it definitely wouldn’t be that easy if we were out where he couldn’t stand). As we traveled back out into the Susquehanna River from this small side creek, I stayed close to the shore to be safe. Kato got up and turned around a few times, all without tipping us! At one point he was whining so I pulled over to let him pee on some trees, and then we hopped back in. All in all, it was so satisfying to have him be such a natural kayak dog!! I definitely need to get him a life vest so we can really go out everywhere without having to worry. I’m excited for this summer!