"Your Dog In A Canoe? Barking Up the Northeast Passage," by B. Elwin Sherman

Yes, even on a river expedition, it's not only possible to end up where you

started, it's what happens anytime you go anywhere in New England by land or

sea, because you're already where you're going before you leave, even though you

can't get there from here.

That's why you should start somewhere else in the first place:
The Northeast Passage.
Here, in nautical dog miles, it's possible to connect New Hampshire with

itself via the Connecticut River.  It requires flatbottom watercraft canine

ballast, an unintentional near drowning that your dog will interpret as a new

game of super-fetch, and the finer points of dogpaddling your way to the nearest

sandbar without spilling your beer.

What's the first rule in canoeing with your dog?
NEVER canoe with your dog.
If you're determined to scuttle that advice, I can only offer you the

following guide and my deepest sympathies at the outset.  Do pick a stretch

of the New Hampshire/Vermont fluvial border that offers an historic, built-in

fond recollection, like the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge.  You'll need

this watermark to neutralize the horror years hence, when you tell your

grandchildren of your perilous river expedition with Tippy.

NEVER take a canoe trip with a dog named “Tippy.”  No sense in flying

in the face of prophecy.

There's a reason that a dog, when riding in an automobile, sticks his head

out the window.  This goes double when applied to travel over water in a

canoe, as his head, body, legs and tail are all now sticking out a big

window.  It's a sensory overload, and your dog needs boundaries, especially

when he's being moved artificially on fluid space.

NEVER put your dog in a canoe on a “windy” day in New Hampshire.  The

resulting fourteen consecutive revolutions you'll perform without advancing one

ripple on your journey will create a new game of splash & fetch that you'll

be hard-pressed to recreate in your backyard pool.

NEVER put your dog in a canoe from the leeward side.  In fact, never

put your dog in a canoe from the windward side.  I'd suggest tethering him

to the bathtub for short periods prior to your trip.  This will acclimatize

him for the approaching granddaddy of all head-out-the-window rides.

When you arrive and are about to put-in, avoid letting him board anywhere

near the stern (more on this later).  Remember, the stern is the back of

the canoe.  It will be the end facing forward for most of your trip

downriver (See: New Hampshire, Windy Day).

NEVER put your dog in a canoe before you get in.  If you're dumb

enough to do this, (and we all know you are because you're out there canoeing in

a Yankee typhoon) don't compound the error by entering with one foot on the bank

and one foot in the canoe.

This will result in the inevitable “Wishbone Dunk & Groin Pull,” and

will forever adversely affect your ability to squat.

NEVER put your dog in a canoe, and then paddle without squatting. 

Yes, you may assume a semblance of sitting, but don't put your full weight on

the seat.  You must maintain a constant scrunch, leaning forward enough to

balance on the balls of your feet, ready to pounce.

Dogs don't know how to trim ship.
NEVER put your dog in a canoe and pounce.
NEVER put your dog in a canoe with anything that doesn't float.  This

includes any valued personal items heavier than air.

NEVER put your dog in a canoe without sitting him in the bow. 

Remember, the bow is the front of the canoe.  It will be the end facing

backward for most of your trip upriver.  There are two reasons for putting

your dog in front:

1.  Dogs, unlike humans, are equally content and adept at seeing

either where they've been or where they're going.

2.  If you put him in the stern with you, the combined ballast of

idiot canoe pilot, clawing dog and cooler of beer, will lift the bow into an

angle that will aggravate your groin pull, dunk & send all your floatable

provisions into Vermont, and prompt any onshore onlookers to wonder why a

vertical canoe is going past them the wrong way under the world's longest

two-span covered wooden bridge.

In New Hampshire, it's the only time you'll get there from



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Syndicated humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman is trying to stay

dry somewhere in the North Country.  You may reach him via his website at:

elwinshumor.com.  Copyright 2008 B. Elwin Sherman.  All rights

reserved.  Used here with permission.
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