Taking Lizzie canoeing at Tyler State Park was one of the funniest days of my life. My friend and I recount
the day over and over, getting a good belly laugh from it every time.
My friend and I decided it was Labor Day weekend, we’re bored, let’s take Lizzie canoeing! So we went. We didn’t realize how entertaining the day would really be. There is canoeing, and then there is canoeing with Lizzie. Two very different things.
We got the Park, unloaded, went down to pay for the rental, and headed over to the area where the canoes are all lined up in a row, tied up in the knee-deep water. All we need to do, is untie, get in, and go. Right? Oh no. That would be far too boring. I get in the canoe first, careful not to get wet, since I didn’t come prepared for that. Lizzie already has her “smile” on her face, tongue lolling out, bright eyed and ready for fun. I could see it. I gave a little tug on her leash to get her to jump into the canoe. “In! Lizzie!” I said. Lizzie splashes through the water, I swear going for maximum splashage, and jumps into the canoe…..and immediately out the other side. With another massive splash. Ok, no. That’s not how it goes. So I try again. Lizzie, get in! And again, she leaps in the canoe, and out the other side bringing as much water with her as physically possible. And again. And again. And again. And Again……If dogs could laugh….People are starting to watch, amused, as my ecstatic dog steeplechases from one side of the canoe to the other, crashing into the water like Shamu each time. My friend is alternating between laughing and trying to push the canoe out in the fraction of a second that Lizzie is traveling through the canoe. It’s chaos at it’s best.
Ok, I say. I have a plan. I’m going to grab her and you push. Ready?!! I am already showered with lake water and I’ve given up any hope of being dry anyway. So the next time she started flying over the canoe, I grabbed her mid-air with both arms and legs in a giant bear hug and yell, “GO GO GO GO!” My friend simultaneously pushes the canoe out and jumps in as fast as humanly possibly. The front of me, of course, is totally soaked from bear hugging a soaking wet dog, but we have made off the shore.
We didn’t get far out before I released the beast from the bear hug and Lizzie started moving around the canoe with the grace of a three-legged hippo, and with absolutely no concern for the balance of the canoe. Talk about a dog with NO sea legs. I have never seen such a clumsy production in my life. As she moves from one side to the other, my friend and I try to shift our weight so we don’t go flipping over. Then, she peers over the edge of the canoe, looking at the murky water. I see the idea pop into her head. Time to play the game again! Before I can stop her, she tumbles over the side of the canoe. I say tumble, because she did not really jump, nothing so graceful. She tumbled. Falling headfirst into the water like a big bag of potatoes before immediately realizing there was no ground to jump back into the canoe on. Oh the horrors! PANIC!!!! MOMMMM HELPPP!!!!!! I’ve already gone after her, reaching over the canoe to grab a hold of my panicking pup, clawing desperately at the side of the canoe. (Yes, she could swim, it just didn’t occur to her at that moment.) How the entire canoe did not flip over at this point, I do not know. I credit that to my friend’s fast thinking. He somehow managed to help haul Lizzie back in and brace the canoe at the same time.
Back with her feet on solid something, Lizzie took a moment to stand in canoe like a cat that just jumped out of the bathtub, before shaking off the incident, and all the water that came with it. We’re ok. And as we finally start paddling off, Lizzie backs her wet butt into me and sits down in my lap, the back half at least. Why thank you, I think I still had a dry spot on my shorts.
The rest of the time paddling was at least less eventful, though a constant effort to keep the canoe upright as Lizzie moved about with the utmost clumsiness. She momentarily contemplated running across the lake in pursuit of a crane, but then quickly remembered that she couldn’t walk on water, as previously proven.
I had dried out a bit when we decided to stop at one small area and let Lizzie romp around a bit in the water. And romp she did. With the joy and enthusiasm I hope I someday get to experience myself. She just enjoyed SPLASHING. Not swimming, just splashing. While some may not believe, buy my friend and I do, she then deliberately set out to get me as wet as possible. Leaping through the water up to where I was standing in the water, then shaking and splashing as much water all over me as possible. LAUGHING…I’m telling you….and running off again, returning, and doing it again. I was SOAKED, and covered in red, East Texas mud.
Loading back up on the canoe this time went a little easier. Not because Lizzie decided to cooperate, but because I knew I had to bear hug her mid-flight by this time, and not getting wet was not a concern any more. And off we went, again, with Lizzie’s wet, mud-covered butt sitting in my lap.
I still have those shorts, and they still have the red mud stains from that canoe adventure. I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of them now. I don’t have any pictures or video from that day, just my memories and a pair of mud-stained shorts.