Sunday, July 14, 2013

Willie The Pirate

I've had three dogs that enjoyed canoeing, and I started all of them out as very young puppies.  I tried taking Belle out last year (she had never been in any kind of boat) and she refused to stay in the canoe.  So I decided I'd take Willie for his first canoe ride today and get him used to it while he was young.

The Wakarusa is a small stream that flows through NW Illinois, and it is really only canoeable after heavy rain.  Unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of paddling it when it was running high.  After the seventh or eighth time I had to line my boat today, I quit counting.  However, the stream flows through some very nice bluffs, and we got to see a doe and her fawn up close, as well as a Great Horned Owl.  At one of the places I had to line the boat, Willie flushed a Canada Goose.  I'm not quite sure who was more upset--the goose or Willie.

My canoe only draws about 4" of water, but in spots, the water was even shallower than that, so I used a J-lean to rotate my canoe off its keel allowing us to get by in 3".  Shortly after we put in, I leaned the boat to make a tight bend in the river.  Willie was balanced on a gunwale and fell into deep and fast flowing water.  Luckily, I was downstream of him and the current quickly carried him to me.  He was a real trooper and seemed totally unfazed by the dunking he took.  However, after that experience, he kept his paws off the gunwales when I had to lean the canoe in the shallows or to make a quick turn.

When I bought my first canoe 22 years ago, I took my Airedale puppy, Chance, out on one of the small lakes near our home.  She quickly proceeded to walk out of the boat and discovered she couldn't walk on the water.  She also was undaunted by the experience and came with me on many a trip.  Max was also exposed to canoeing at a young age, but he eventually grew too big for me to include in my paddling adventures unless I in a tandem canoe and paddling with a partner.  However, even in a larger canoe, he always had an uncanny knack for shifting his weight to the wrong side of the boat at the most inopportune moments.

Max - 2001
Libby at lunch break on her first trip - 2003.

(I began the trip with Willie clipped to a thwart, but once it was clear he wasn't going to hop out, I removed the leash for safety in case we flipped.)


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