Sadie is a member of our Woof the North community. The past couple years Sadie has really caught our attention with her proficiency as a paddle board pup.
This past summer Sadie took it a step further with giving some special Instagram posts that discussed, in depth, her training methods and risk considerations that should be factored into activities like this one.
Sadie recently completed an amazing paddle board sunrise excursion in Toronto’s Harbour. The results are some spectacular photos, great memories and a reel of a lifetime. You can find Sadie on IG at @sweet_sadie_girl_. Here is her background story.
SADIE: THE SWEET SUP PUP
Sadie has been on a paddle board since she was 9 months old. It all started when summer came and I was out on the board for the first time of the season. I live in Ontario, Canada, near Lake Ontario (one of the 5 great lakes). When I go out for a paddle, it’s usually for at least a few hours. I enjoy basking in the sun’s warmth, taking in the peace and tranquility the water brings, and looking for adventure. My favourite time to be on the board is early morning or late evening to catch those stunning sunrises and sunsets that leave you in awe. I even have a “Paddle playlist” that I play on a waterproof speaker.
While I was out and enjoying all this beauty, something was missing… Sadie. The very next day, I purchased a life jacket for Sadie and began the imprinting process with the board (on land, not on the water). Right away she was comfortable, so I figured, let’s see how she does on the water. Sadie did great her first time on water! Watching her on the board reminded me of myself during my first paddle – curious yet cautious, excited although still. She was a natural… a girl after my own heart. We paddled mainly on Lake Ontario, by Vineland, and would catch the most stunning sunrises and sunsets. One can also see Toronto from that location! After just a few times out, Sadie was ready to dip her paws in the water. (This is also a great way for her to cool down if it’s a hot evening.) Sadie doesn’t last long in the water but just enough to get a short paddle in, and then she is ready to get back on the board. She loves the sensation of the board is in motion. She is happy to sit and enjoy the summer breeze, taking in the views, with the water gently splashing against the board.
Sadie and I started to go out on the water quite often. After a few times out on Lake Ontario for only an hour or two, we started to increase our time on the board and would be out for hours. I would bring food and water for us; most of this time was spent training while we were not too far from shore. I implemented Sadie’s obedience training she had learned on land, to the board. Some of these exercises include “sit stay,” “stand stay,” “down stay,” and the “okay” command (which means she is free to wander the board). I also started teaching her the command “jump” indicating she has permission to jump in the water. Sadie was doing great with the training and started to get lots of attention out there!
Most of our paddling adventures are always an incredible new experience; however, not all have been a success. A big lesson we have learned is to “trust your gut.” Sometimes when we have arrived to the water, it has been too wavy to paddle; despite disappointment, we turn around and go home. One day, when we were out for about 10 minutes, the water changed in seconds. The waves began to come in, and the sky suddenly looked strange in the distance. I always check the weather before we go out and I checked again while we were on the water… there was still no sign of rain or thunderstorms on the radar. But I thought, something doesn’t feel right, and also noticed Sadie was pacing and acting strange, so I started to paddle in. Thank goodness for that judgment call…. As we headed into shore, the waves started to really pick up. (On a paddle board, waves make it very difficult to navigate in any direction.)
Sadie, like any dog, can sense emotion and knows when something is not right. Although I remained calm and was reassuring her, she could see right through that and saw my fear. As I continued to paddle like hell, she sat right in my lap. (When it is that wavy, it’s very difficult to stand and paddle). She began to lick my leg. I feel like that was her way of telling me it was okay, and we would be alright. We made it to shore after a fierce paddle, and just as her paws touched the shore, lightning and thunder exploded, and the rain started to pour. The lesson here is “trust your gut.”
All our experiences have been positive, with the exception of the following episode. Sadie is always on leash while I am paddling, and the board is in motion. She is connected to either the board or my leg. I use her leash with training and also stop her if she is about to jump in the water while we are moving. (I am big on training and safety with her). One day, someone suggested that I shouldn’t have her on leash while I am paddling. I went against my better judgment and I unleashed her. That same evening, while I was paddling in with her, Sadie walked to the front of the board and as I was calling her back, she slipped off the board into the water while it was in a forward motion. Sadie went right under the board… nowhere to be seen. All I could hear were thunks and scratching sounds. I panicked while my arms were trying to stretch under the board to feel for her. Seconds felt like hours… and just as I was about to dive in, I felt her life jacket and lifted her to air.
As I write this, my hands are shaky, and my eyes are filled with tears. It was the worst feeling I have ever felt. Sadie was and is okay, and thankfully did not experience any repercussions. She was even ready to get back on the board a few days later! She is so resilient. However, I never wanted anything like that to happen again, so I keep the leash attached to her. This is another example of “trusting your gut.” I can’t stress enough how important safety is – especially on the water. Although we have a great time, and enjoy adventure, safety is always first for us.
Sadie has now mastered the commands “sit,” “stand,” and “down” on the board and can stay in these commands for about 30 seconds. We will continue to work up our time for “stays” next season, and we have some neat tricks up our sleeve/paw that we will be working on. We also look forward to traveling new waters and increasing our distance (while always maintaining a close distance to shore) and listening to our “paddle playlist.” A few of our favs are “Chateau” by Petit Biscuit, “Porcelin” by Moby, and “Sunsets” by Nurko. Any time I play these songs at home, Sadie’s ears perk up, and she looks for the board and her lifejacket… How neat is that! We will patiently wait for summer and those still waters… warm breezes… and cotton candy skies.