Jackson is an odd border collie. He’s chunky with short legs. He’s clumsy and still can’t get up on the bed without a stool. His favorite activities are sleeping and eating. He loves to run with me on the other end of his leash, but defaults to loafing around if not stimulated.
He completely lacks that border collie drive. He doesn’t want to herd or fetch or even play more than a few seconds of tug-of-war. Only after a long struggle have we managed to interest him in a ball, and then only if it’s bounced off the ground or a wall.
He has troubled interactions with people and other dogs. He went through a phase of snapping at Beefy for moving him when asleep and me for putting my head too close to him. The bad behavior culminated in his biting another dog owner in the stomach. He’s improved since then and even cuddles, head-to-head, but I don’t trust him not to nip the hand or ankle of a passerby. His dog-on-dog aggression began with puberty and manifested itself at daycare. We were eventually asked to leave daycare (and agility classes), due to his lunging and snapping. With the help of a trainer, he now tolerates other dogs when he’s on leash but cannot be loose or unsupervised.
Jasper is the complete opposite. He loves to play – whether on his own or retrieving toys we throw. He has good manners around dogs and people. He’s very active. He’s my agility dog.
Jackson had me stumped. He’s not an agility dog. He’s not a ball dog. He’s not a frisbee dog. He’s not even a dog dog. His only real interests seemed to be begging and being brushed. Now, I know he’s a water dog!
Thanks to his double coat and layer of fat, he’s always been a great floater and swimmer. Unlike Jasper, who runs from the hose, Jackson loves to snap at the water as I give the plants a drink. As a puppy, he had the terrible habit of emptying the water dish with his paws. I saw a trend, so I took a chance and introduced him to a new sport: paddleboarding.
Ideally, to train your SUP pup, you should introduce the dog to the board slowly. First, have it in the house. Then reward him for investigating it. Next, reward him for being on it. Take the board outside and repeat. Take the board to the water and repeat. Reward the dog for staying on the board with you. And, finally, after a few weeks of this, shove off and paddle with your dog. I rent my boards, so that wasn’t an option. I just strapped on his doggie life vest, packed a baggie of chicken, and went for it.
He was a natural! He didn’t dump me once. He walked around the board. He tried the front. He tried the back. He tried the middle (and fell asleep). Jackson took one dip when tempted by geese, but otherwise stayed on the board while underway. He even figured out how to balance and drink from the river as we paddled.
Paddle boarding speaks to all his strengths. His stout body and low center of gravity give him easy balance. His love of loafing is perfect for a long paddle. And his dislike of other dogs and people keeps him firmly bonded to me and the board.
I’m so pleased to have found Jackson’s jam. I run both dogs, but felt bad leaving Jackson behind when taking Jasper to his weekly agility lessons. Now, I can incorporate weekly paddle board sessions with my chunky monkey. Jackson’s job is WATER!