When we got Jet 4 years ago from a rescue shelter, he was a bit of a basket-case. He just had SO MUCH ENERGY and his months spent in a cage at the shelter only intensified his need to burn that energy however he could, which usually consisted of running and not stopping. Like ever. You see, at the shelter, they had named him Chase. We had decided to name him Teak because of the color of his fur, but on his first day home, he took off after a squirrel… like a jet… and we never thought we’d see him again. Lucky for us, he decided to come back, so we named him Jet because he was the fastest dog we’d ever seen.
Also lucky for us, he never manifested his energy by chewing anything such as our shoes or furniture. Aside from the first year or so, where we had to really work with him on his role within the pack (he was a born leader and wasn’t thrilled to relinquish that role), he’s had virtually no behavioral issues at all. We know this has a lot to do with our constantly exposing him to different environments – sitting on the busiest street corner in Nashville so that he didn’t get anxiety around cars or traffic, out to the boat so that he was comfortable around water and on boats, crowded festivals so he was not afraid of large groups of people…you get the idea. And it has paid off amazingly for the cruising life since we are so often on the move. Nothing shocks him and everywhere we go, everyone comments on how well-behaved and easily adaptable he is to any situation. He spends his days sitting on the bow or one of the sidedecks, just staring at the water, on intense lookout for those evil ducks or herons that he must protect our boat from.
A month or so ago, I won (yes WON – as in FREE!) an inflatable stand-up paddle board, or SUP package from Tower Paddle Boards, courtesy of a contest hosted by eBoat Cards, brought by the same people who brought us Active Captain. I can’t tell you how excited I was to win this thing – we had been wanting a paddle board forever and the fact that we can deflate it and stow it makes it a perfect toy for the boat. I could go on and on about how awesome this thing is and will probably do another post on this soon.
I had never been paddle boarding before so I watched a bunch of YouTube videos about techniques because the last thing I wanted to do was fall into the jellyfish-laden Chesapeake water. After a morning of educating myself, I decided to hop on the thing, and IT. WAS. AWESOME. It was so awesome, in fact, that I just had to share the experience with someone and since Chris was out of town working, who else but to let in on all this fun besides Jet?
We had a brief meeting beforehand, at which point I begged him not to fall off because one, that would make us look bad, and we have reputations to uphold, and two, because if he fell off, the chances were highly likely that I would have a hard time getting him back on without falling off myself and if we couldn’t get back on, it might be a long, un-fun swim back which would be followed by a bath. That sealed the deal and he shook my hand to confirm our mutual understanding and off we went. Two pals just SUP-ing along like we’d been doing it for years.
He took to it almost immediately. He was a little unsteady at first, but quickly figured out the whole balance thing and we looked like pros. We were literally the talk of the water. Every single boat that passed us whipped out their cameras and took pictures. People ran out to their docks to ask how long it took me to teach him to do that… (ummm, 15 seconds?) and I even had a group of Navymen shout at us to invite us to their beach party because as they put it, “y’all are the coolest things on the water!” (I declined… never sip and SUP, but was flattered to be called “cool” by a group of cute, young twenty-something year old sailors).
Here’s a video showing how Jet gets on the SUP and how we make it work without falling in the water (a little toward the end you see me bend down to hold the board while I shift the positioning of my feet… I’m not quite confident enough moving around on it too much with no hands!). It also features Chris song ‘California’ from his 2010 EP ‘Songs From Before’.
So this has now become our favorite thing to do together. If you want to try SUP-ing with your canine pal, there are a few things that are essential in my opinion before going out.
- INTRODUCE THEM SLOWLY: I knew Jet would just hop right on because that’s how he is. There’s no warming up with him – he just does it, but many dogs might get nervous so be sure they are comfortable before leaving the dock or shore. It won’t be any fun for either of you if your dog is miserable once you’re out there. Start by introducing them to the board while on land and use plenty of treats if necessary.
- DOG LIFE JACKET: Always have your dog wear a life jacket. For one, it can help save them from drowning, but most pfd’s for dogs have a handle on top that you could grab to lift them back onto the board if they fall off.
- NON-SKID: Be sure your board has non-skid to help their feet grip. Some boards are more slick. Our Tower board is perfect because almost the entire top surface is covered with a thick non-skid so I didn’t have to do anything and Jet was able to easily hop right on.
- NEVER LEASH YOUR DOG TO THE BOARD: If they fall into the water, the leash could strangle them.
- WATER SUPPLY: Always carry plenty of fresh water for you and your dog. Dogs need water to help keep them from overheating and dehydrating, so carry some in a little dry-bag that can sit on the front of the board, even if you’re just going out for a short distance. There was one time that, due to a strong opposing current and a bit of wind that it took me longer to get back than I had anticipated and I didn’t have water for either of us. Jet took a few sips of the brackish water off the side because he got so thirsty and had some major diarrhea that evening. Guess I’m out of the running for Dog-Mom-Of-The-Year award.
Have any of you ever SUP-ed with your dogs? What’s your favorite way to stay active with your dog? Leave us a comment below!
* A huge thanks goes out to both Tower Paddle Boards and eBoat Cards. This post is not sponsored in any way. I won the inflatable SUP in a contest but cannot say enough good things about it, and have since become a Tower affiliate, so any links to Tower on this site are affiliate links and I do get a small percentage of any sales. It is extremely well constructed and online reviews call it one of the best inflatable SUP’s you can get. It’s also more affordable than most out there. We will likely be purchasing a second SUP at some point so that Chris and I can do this together. I highly recommend these boards and am so excited to have found such a fun and rewarding form of exercise!
* Since this post went up, several of you have asked which board we have – we have the 9’10” Adventurer Package, and we totally love it. Note that all links to Tower are affiliate links.