Stand-up paddleboarding with dogs

SUP with pup is easier than it looks.

By John Carlin - Anchor

There are lots of reasons people choose to stand-up paddleboard with their dogs.

"Because he's my best friend and we both love being together and being outside, and when we found Mountain 2 Island paddleboarding, we decided this was one of our favorite things to do together," said Nicole Boyle, of Blacksburg.

Renee and John Machen own Maywood Kennels, where they breed, raise and train golden retrievers.  

"We just enjoy doing things with the dogs, and the dogs enjoy water -- so it's a perfect sport for us," Renee said.

Niclole Boyle owns and operates In Balance Yoga in Blacksburg.  She doesn't just paddle with her 11 year-old dog, Ogden, she executes advanced yoga moves that many people would find difficult on dry ground.

"It's playtime, and you're playing together.  He loves being outside and being with me.  He loves being in the water, looking at the ducks, and all the boats.  So it's just something we can do together and different," Nicole said.

We first started seeing stand-up paddleboarding in our area 5-10 years ago. The sport has grown exponentially ever since. The interesting thing is that people weren't happy with just paddling after a while,  they wanted to do something more -- so it was inevitable they would start paddling with their dogs.

Michael Valach operates paddleboard rentals at both Claytor and Smith Mountain Lakes.  He sees more and more people paddling with their dogs and teaches a class on how to get started.

"Some dogs take to it quicker than others.  Some will take a little more time on the board with the dog getting used to it.  But most dogs really seem to enjoy it, and the person they are paddling with seems to get a lot out of it also,"Valach said  .

On this day, the excitement was delayed a bit, as a duck swam by just as John and Renee were launching.  Retrievers did what retrievers do, and chased after the duck.

"We see it all the time, because any time they see ducks, they go after 'em.  The ducks are faster than the dogs, so the ducks will fly away. You don't have to worry about 'em," John said.

The day wasn't without mishaps.  Renee was knocked off her board at least three times -- although at some level, falling in is a part of the deal.

"We fully expected to end up in the water.  It's a nice day and the water feels great.  So swimming is good for the dogs," Renee said.

"It's a little bit frustrating because it's kind of hard.  They are both pretty good at throwing you off the board when they  both launch off at the same time but it is fun and you can tell they are having a lot of fun too," added John.

While few will reach Nicole's level, SUP with Pup, as it's called, is not as hard as it looks, once the human partner has the basic ability to paddle.  

"Most everybody who does it, gets it," Valach said.

Valach advises that people take a lesson without their dogs if they are new to paddleboarding.  After that, he says you should take it in steps, getting the dogs used to the board.  He advises paddlers to start out sitting or on their knees and eventually move to a standing position.

"He hasn't knocked me in the water.  I've been very lucky, and this is our third summer doing that.   But no, he's never knocked me in the water," Boyle said.

Whether it's yoga, or just time on the water, SUP with Pup is a great way for a dog and his human to log a bit of quality time.

Click here to learn more about Mountain 2 Island Paddleboard Company.

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