LAKE TAHOE - Let's start with a disclaimer that if you have a water-loving dog - e.g., any version of Labrador - this may be entirely unneeded advice. If your dog isn't necessarily a huge water fan and you are a convert to the recent stand-up paddle craze, read on.In our case we went right to the top of the difficulty scale, with my neighbor's sweet, but not-so-dainty 100-pound Rottweiler. Her name is Sophia Rose (the dog, not the neighbor - that's Bev), but she goes by Sophie. Yet another neighbor - Andrea Edge - had recently bought a paddleboard and thought it'd be fun to add a hundred pounds of moving fur.Andrea regularly watches Sophie when Bev is out of town, so they already had a comfortable relationship. To gain a familiarity with the paddleboard before adding water, Andrea put it on her living room floor (minus the fin) with some dog treats on it. Whenever Bev and Sophie were out for a walk, they stopped by and Sophie got used to lying on the board, digesting her latest snack, while the gals chatted nearby.Since that was such a quick success, it was time to launch the board and let the dog see how it worked. Bev and Sophie played on the beach, while Andrea paddled around. Let me reiterate: Sophia Rose is not a huge water aficionado."So next we had her step onto the board," Andrea said. "I stayed in the water and just pushed her around a bit so she could see how it felt. With the nose of the paddleboard right at the beach, Sophie could just step on and not even get her feet wet. Of course, she got a treat for that!"Bravely, at their next session, Andrea kneeled on the paddleboard and coaxed Sophie aboard. At her weight, moving around adds a greater degree of difficulty to the trick. But being well-trained, she responded quickly to commands of "sit" "stay" and "back up."Andrea continues, "Early on, Sophie fell in and panicked a bit, since she's more of a sinker than a swimmer. She aimed for a nearby rock and then I rescued her and she was fine. But since then Bev bought her a doggie life vest and it's perfect."So perfect that on the latest outing, Sophie first went for a swim, felt immediately how buoyant she was, and paddleboarded with both Andrea and Bev. Even falling in once, she swam comfortably and got right back on the board for another round.Of course, there were some treats involved.
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