2014: On the River with a Raft of German Shepherds

We headed up to Wine Country in August to join a German Shepherd Meetup on the Russian River in Healdsburg for a day of paddling down the river.

Total Miles: 434

Nights: 2

Camping Fee: $50/night (it's the Bay Area)

Surprises: Experiencing a major earthquake in the RV

Lowlights: See below. Plus the 6-hour rush-hour/accident-laden traffic in the East Bay. (Trip should've taken 3.5 hours)

We thought this would be a great activity for Bago, since he's such a nut about swimming. Oy vey--was this a giant mistake.

1. The inflatable "kayaks" were extremely unwieldy--no rudder and very hard to paddle.

2. Bago was absolutely nuts the ENTIRE 6+ hours. He wanted to be IN the water, not ON the water, which was fine for the first part of the trip, which was in very shallow water that we hauled out of regularly on sandbars. He could play and be wild and even swim alongside the boat pulling us (we held onto his life jacket handle). We knew he was wearing himself out too much, but there was nothing to be done once the trip had started. The real problem arose when, unbeknownst to us (but known to most of the other folks on the trip who have done this trip before), the water got deep and rather swift for the entire last half (3+ hours) of the trip. There were never any more stopping places. Bago jumped out of the boat at a particularly swift section, and we couldn't get him back inside. Thank goodness we were still with the group because one kind gentleman (everyone else just mocked us) hauled Bago back up into the boat. It's the only time we've ever seen Bago flat out panicked. The plot then thickened. Knowing that we couldn't trust him to stay in the boat, Lisa (sitting in front) had to turn around and hold him in for over 3 hours, especially because we were going so slowly that everyone had passed us. There was no one behind to help us haul him back in and the water was too deep. That meant Julie had to solo paddle (without any rudder) for 3+ hours and Bago had to whine and cry and howl. A very long day indeed.

3. The trip back with a bunch of shepherds (many young and not well trained) all mixed together on a bus was a nail biter. In the morning, the bus driver had hoped aloud, "Maybe THIS trip we won't have blood all over the bus on the way back." When I asked him to elaborate, he simply said, "Last time there was a lot of blood. We never did figure out if it was dog or human." We fretted over that comment all day, but all was well. Especially after we taught the inexperienced owners not to let their dogs stare at other dogs....

4. The post-paddle night was a very unhappy one. Bago awoke at 1:30AM crying in pain. We got him pain meds and into bed with us, so we were all still awake when that 6.0 Napa quake hit (not far from where we were). Man, oh man, is there nothing like rocking side to side in a major earthquake in a motorhome. Thought we were going to tip over.

5. We realized that we needed to withdraw from the German Shepherd Meetup group. Bago gets so amped up around other shepherds and thinks he's just like them. We gotta keep our handicapped boy less active than fully healthy GSDs.....

On a happy note, we liked the rather rustic Alexander Valley RV Park and would go back there. It's not far off 101 and would make a good layover point on the way home from northern points. So there's that. It's also near the Coppola Winery with its amazing resort pools. That could make a nice relaxing day! But a note to self: bring bottled water. Remember what their tap water looks like:

A few more pix of the ordeal, er, trip:

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