Powder Hound Turned River Runner
Ruffwear's own Caroline Eyman and her lovable Husky-Shihtzu, Atka, moved across the country together from Vermont to Bend, Oregon. Atka had never been one to enjoy water – unless it came in snow form – but everything changed when she saw the river. This sparked an idea in Caroline: could she get Atka on a paddleboard? Read on to see how this duo took a chance on a new hobby and discovered a lasting way to connect on the water.
Atka’s love for water is far from innate. When we lived in Vermont, she would do everything within her power to avoid the smallest stream crossings while out on hikes. But when we decided to embark on a new journey together, a cross country move to Bend, Oregon, I hoped that would change.
Atka is part Siberian Husky, part Shihtzu. Her husky side brings out a love for all things snow, and her Shihtzu side, well that is the reason for her signature underbite. I knew she would love the winters in Bend, but I wasn’t sure about the 90 degree days in the summer. I began to accept the fact that our adventures would be shorter in the summer unless I strategically scheduled them during the darker hours of the day.
And then something started to change. Maybe it was the dry desert air or maybe it was her one-year-old curiosity, but during our first few months in Bend, Atka began to dip her toes in the nearby bodies of water while out on walks and runs. When she was on leash, she started to sit near the river, refusing to go any further unless I let her wade in. A thought started buzzing around in my head: Could I ever get Atka on a paddle board?
This question entered my head before I had ever stepped foot on a board myself. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend had a paddle board I could try out. I was hooked from the very first time I hopped on. My form may not have been pretty, but I was just happy to be out on the water.
Atka sporting the Ruffwear Float Coat™ Dog Life Jacket
Once I was comfortable enough on a board, the next big hurdle arrived. I needed to get Atka on the board, and trying new things is always more fun with a friend, canine and human. My friend and I both hopped on our own paddle boards and assisted our dogs aboard. Atka flopped down. Not only did she flop down, she stuck her left paw in the water in the most casual manner like she had done this a million times before.
I didn’t want to get too excited about our first outing. Maybe it was just beginner’s luck. Maybe Atka would start launching herself off the board, or worse, maybe she would launch ME off the board. I anxiously got the two of us situated for our second outing, and the same exact behavior occurred. Atka plopped down on the front of the board, and she dragged her left paw through the water. The first time wasn’t just luck. Atka loved the SUP.
Now you can spot the two of us on the rivers and lakes surrounding Bend, Oregon. This experience taught me that I should never make an assumption about my dog’s abilities and her activity preference. Atka and I took a chance together when we stepped on to a SUP, and this time it paid off. We will try another new activity that may not turn out the same way. For now, I am excited that the two of us have a way to cope with and even look forward to the hot summers in Bend, Oregon.
Interested in more stories about stand up paddleboarding with your dog? Check out our SUP stories!