I only agreed because I didn’t think we’d be allowed to proceed. But oh, did that desk clerk at Sandy Bottom Nature Park throw me for a loop with her “sure you can take pets on the boats!” I faked a pleasant reaction and paid the woman.
My husband likes to think that we can read each other’s minds. I mean, I’m pretty dead-on when I do it, but him? Lacking. So, while I was in charge of compiling research and data, delivering payment, plotting the course and acquiring the key, two life jackets and two paddles, Clayton was in charge of watching our dog. Not moving, just watching. I came through splendidly with my portion and teetered my way down the sidewalk to our former picnic table with paddles smacking and life jackets dragging along the ground, nearly toppling over with every step. And my husband was missing.
After two different strangers mockingly noted and gestured that “the canoes are that way,” I was ready to file for divorce and fight for sole custody of B-dizzle. But then the boys appeared, looking all too “this is going to be awesome!” to my “what the hell, Clayton?”
We arrive at the canoes to find The World’s Largest Great Dane, who was just itchin’ to meet our family of three. Looked like he was going to get his wish when we saw he was being detained by an 80-pound owner who was almost hurled backwards over the bench when the great dane raised his eyebrows. We were not as obliged. Dude was skurry looking. (I know, I’m a hypocrite.)
The kind dane owner must have sympathized with our darting eyes, furiously trying to recalculate our path to the canoes, and pulled the 489-pound pup further down the trail. We could exhale. For about a half a second.
The canoes were ginormous and, as Clayton and I long ago retired our Strong Man hopes, getting that boat into the water was going to require all hands on deck. Not three hands on deck while one hand wrestled a stubborn, sand-sniffing Bryson. Thankfully, the easiest part of the whole ordeal turned out to be tying Bryson to the canoe rack and letting him entertain himself while we finagled the canoe up, over and down onto the ground. Thank you, two years working as a personal trainer. (And thank you husband/orthopedic PA who will soon be treating my torn rotator cuff.)
Bryson had sufficiently covered every hair on his body with muddy sand in the two minutes it took for us to move the canoe. I guess he’s good at some things.
About a million “Come on’s,” “Up, up, up’s,” and “Good boy’s!” later, Bryson goofily half stepped/half-tripped INTO THE CANOE. Terrified. Antsy. Distraught. But all four legs were touching the boat bottom. From that point on, my entire mission in life was to keep Bryson IN THE BOAT. Using a stealthy combination of power-locked thighs around B’s torso, a death grip on his collar and a seriously stern Mother of All Punishment (MoAP) voice, I got him to obey me about 40% of the time.
Clayton gave us a push and then hopped in to fulfill his role of all-time-rower. Don’t feel bad. 1) He liked outrageously dramatizing the effort to make his biceps pop and 2) you try being all-time-disciplinarian to a mischievous 109-pound, curious canine canoe virgin. Thought so.
The first few minutes dawdling away from the shore were the most precarious of the day. Bryson was throwing around his boat-shifting weight from lying down to sitting to standing to streeeeetching out along the entire length of the boat. Every movement tilted the canoe in a time-freezing, this is it, iceberg ahead! dangerously off-center way. I was positive I was swimming home.
It was so entertaining, in fact, a darling spectator was not shy about gaping at our efforts from the moment we put the boat in the water. Last I checked, I hadn’t signed a reality show deal with Bravo, so dude needed to either lend a hand or move it on down the road. Instead, when we had floated a bit out of eyesight, Creepsy McGee stands up, moves to a better vantage point and stares at us. I suppose, like me, he saw the future You-Tube video in the making.
There was a brief span when Bryson calmed down enough for us to actually enjoy the ride. And that’s when Clayton took a detour from the shimmering, inviting lake and headed under a bridge into the sewage inlet. It took a good stern MoAP “suggestion” to get that boat turned back around and my dry heaving under control.
When B-dog had accepted his motionless, prostrate fate of not being able to see or sniff anything but the sides of the canoe, I think he really developed a passion for boating. Or just didn’t throw up on my Rainbows. Same diff. And then we snapped these little mementos, one of which was posted on Facebook for the distinct purpose of making my dog appear adorable and not life-endangering.