Summer is finally here...
by By NICOLE SOURS LARSON | San Diego Pets
12:00 AM, Sunday, May 20
Summer sports are well suited to canine and even feline companions — and they’re often more fun if they’re shared with enthusiastic and cooperative pets. Many dogs enjoy surfing, kayaking, rafting and even flying. And don’t forget your cats — with the right introduction and equipment, they make great boating companions!

Amy and Alexander the boating cats

It’s a myth that cats don’t like water. Visit any marina and you’ll discover a host of boat owners and liveaboards who happily share their quarters or weekend retreats with salty felines.

Amy and Alexander, two 5-year-old rescue kitties, became boaters when this writer and her husband began taking them to the boat. Like most cats that prefer stable routines, they resisted change but adapted within a few hours to their new marine environment, where they enjoy watching the many resident birds and bobbing boats. They quickly discovered they enjoy skittering up and down ladders and monitoring marina activities from comfortable perches.

Before bringing them to the boat, we installed screens on sliding doors and hatches to keep our house cats safe inside the boat and purchased a duplicate set of normal feline paraphernalia (litter boxes, cat tree, beds, bowls, food storage bin, brush, toys, etc.) to keep them comfortable and happy. The goal of creating a home-like environment applies to bringing dogs aboard as well.

Although they resist them, we bought harnesses and leashes to keep them aboard and tethered if they go on deck. We also had them fitted with custom-tailored life jackets, adapted from larger doggie life vests, to keep them safe and floating in case of an emergency.

Now, when we spend the weekend on the boat, we have all the comforts of home, especially two content, purring pusses.

Mr. Frosty the flying dog

Both Howie, a black-and-brown mix, and Mr. Frosty, a Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, were shelter dogs whose adoptions led them to unexpected sports.

Howie was looking for a forever home at the Escondido Humane Society when he met his new dad, John Van Zante, public relations manager at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, who enjoys kayaking.

Mr. Frosty was plucked from death row at a Los Angeles animal shelter by a volunteer from Jack Russell Rescue, who soon introduced him to Doug Poirier, a Point Loma financial advisor and paraglider at Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Both dogs bonded strongly with their new pet parents and didn’t like to be left behind.

When Van Zante would put his kayak in the water, Howie would sit in their motorhome or stand at the edge of the water, watching. Soon Van Zante coaxed Howie, who’s not a swimming dog and usually wears a lifejacket, into the kayak with him.

“Later he sat with me and I pushed off from shore. He wasn’t sure at first, but once we got out into the water and were moving smoothly he relaxed and leaned against me. He always starts sitting between my knees and facing me, but then he turns around so he can see where we’re going,” Van Zante explains.

Frosty, who suffers from separation anxiety because of prior abuse and abandonment, would get upset when Poirier would take off for a flight.

“Every time I’d leave him, he’d cry. It seemed he wanted to go. I found out that other dogs fly and I thought he might like it. And he does,” Poirier says.

Before he could take Frosty flying, he had to devise a safe flying harness to attach to his own so that Frosty could nestle safely against his body. He worked with the Gliderport’s “Wing Doctor,” Steve Stackable, to adapt a lifejacket into a paragliding flight harness. Strapped to his dad’s harness, Frosty loves to chase birds through the thermals.

Both dogs went from homeless rescues to well-loved sporting pets.

For more information about flight lessons (for humans) at

Torrey Pines Gliderport, visit or call (858) 452-9858. To read more about Frosty the Flying Dog, visit the

San Diego Pets archive for December 2008 on-line at:

Simba the pool lounging dog

Simba, a Brussels Griffon, is a senior citizen now. But when he was 2 years old, he starred in two commercials for Frontline and at 4 he won the “Dog with the Biggest Attitude” at a contest in Del Mar.

Now he lives in Cardiff-by-the Sea with Dayle Webber, where he mixes up his walks around San Elijo Lagoon with intense rafting sessions in the pool, where he enjoys sunbathing and lounging on the water.

...More summer fun activities

Pick your pleasure — whether it’s hiking, bicycling, running, tossing Frisbees, skateboarding, rollerblading or rowing — most of these sports can be dog-friendly with the addition of a leash, basket, backpack and water bowl. There’s no longer any reason to leave your lonely pet at home.
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