Gracie’s Maiden Voyage

I’ve always wanted a dog that can go everywhere with me. Zorro turned out to not be that particular dog. Considering he would bite you as soon as look at you, it probably isn’t the best idea to take him in public.  Since Gracie joined us a year ago, it is clear she is so different from Zorro. She, unlike Zorro, is actually friendly. She would rather lick your face off than bite it.  She doesn’t bark at every little noise,  and she listens fairly well for a dachshund.  So after a year of letting her experience the world,  we decided it might be fun to see if she would be good on a kayaking trip.

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On a calm Saturday morning we loaded the truck with the kayaks and headed to a state park nearby. For this trip we opted for Lake Louisa State Park. I knew from exploring the park a couple of weeks earlier that the lake was full of gators,  but it would be relatively smooth. This meant I could focus on Gracie instead of padding around obstacles.

For Gracie’s maiden voyage, we purchased her a life jacket which she took to right away. I spent some time walking her around the area to let her get acclimated to her new contraption. It didn’t seem to bother her in the least. She just continue to hunt for lizards just as she does at home.

Within a few minutes of checking out the lake, we spotted our first alligator. It was a baby only about two and a half feet long and quickly swam away into the reeds along the bank. Gracie paid it no attention,  and thankfully it was the only one we saw all day.

With the gator off and out of sight I settled myself into the kayak, and Gracie followed. She was pretty nervous at first and did a pretty good job of staying seated in the middle. As she found her sea legs, she decided that she should explore the edges of the kayak. I paddled around for a little while near the dock. Geoff took a few pictures and then went to get his kayak.

Since Gracie was behaving so well, we paddled out hugging the edge of the lake. When we made it halfway around the lake, Gracie decided that she was going to stand on the bow of the boat. And she was doing a pretty good job of staying balanced, but I hit a little wave. She lost her balance sending her tumbling into the lake. She furiously paddled those tiny little dachshund legs.  Her eyeballs,  large as saucers,  searched for me to rescue her.  I was thankful for her life jacket which had a handle on the back making it easy for me to grab her like a little suitcase and deposit her back into the kayak. After that she was pretty petrified, and she stayed in the center of the kayak shivering. Eventually she calmed back down and found a nice spot to relax on the stadium cushion I put between my knees.  

We made our way back toward the dock checking out the ospreys that were fishing and taking their catches back to their nests. With Gracie more subdued I was able to actually take in the scenery. We were surrounded by tall cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. We were sitting in the middle of an old Florida postcard.

After about 90 minutes on the lake we decided we wouldn’t test fate any more and ended our trip for the day.  I finally think I have a dog that can pretty much go on any adventure that we send her way. I think for now, I’ll settle with her maiden voyage being a success.

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