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SUP With Your Pup: Dog-friendly paddle boarding on the Thames @TheLondog

Photo of dog sitting on a stand-up paddle board in Richmond

By The Londog August 25, 2019 

SUP With Your Pup latest session, a dog-friendly stand-up paddle boarding event hosted by Back of Beyond Adventures took place on Sunday 18th August in Richmond, on the Thames. After telling about it previously on the blog, we went along to report back on it.

SUP With Your Pup event: how was it?

Little dog on SUP

The SUP With Your Pup session had sold out and, on the day, 8 humans and their 5 large and small canines gathered for the adventure. Weimaraner Skylar, Poodle Noodle, Spaniel Rosie, rescue mutt Jordie and Pomeranian Todd, all brought their life vests and were soon ready for the adventure!

Group of SUP with your Pup participants near van

The morning hadn’t started under the best star, with grey skies and rain pouring down. But as everyone arrived at the meeting point in River Lane on the Thames, rain showers eventually stopped and the sky slowly cleared, leaving the place to sunshine and warmer temperatures.

Instructor and founder of Back of Beyond Adventures, Piers, invited everyone to form a semi-circle on the green next to the river for a briefing, with paddles and boards on land. He explained how to paddle, stop, turn, and all the tips of the case, including what to do in case of a fall in the river. Participants also received a life jacket each and were instructed about how to wear it correctly.

White poodle sitting on SUP
Noodle. Such a good boy!

As the briefing ended, everyone was given the task to fit the fin on the SUP and get the dogs on the boards while still on land, so they could become familiar with it. The dogs jumped up and down and were chilled out.

Photo of paddle boarders carrying their SUPs

The next step was bringing the boards down the slipway, where Piers put his into the water and gave a demonstration of how to get on and paddle, also aided by his dog Ty (short name for Tycheros), in front of everyone.

Tye is a two and a half-year old rescue Pointer cross from Cyprus, who gets often mistaken for a Vizla and at times follows Piers on his water adventures. Ty, though is no “water baby”, as he walks to the belly but rather prefers to be on the water than in it, as Piers recounts, is very careful at staying still on the board, in between Piers’ legs to avoid wet surprises.

SUP demo on the Thames
Photo of Back of Beyond Adventures founder with his dog on a SUP
Piers and Ty give a demo

While Piers gave the demonstration, 10-year old mongrel Jordie happily swam in the Thames’ water, while Skylar stared at the board with interest. In order to get onto the SUP, the humans had to walk a few paces into the river and leave shallow waters where the fin would otherwise get stuck and falls could be a bit more risky.

Dog on SUP

As the humans pushed the board into the water, some of the dogs enthusiastically dived into the river and they were happy to be lifted onto the SUP, like Jordie and Rosie, others, like Skylar, were much less convinced. In fact, Skylar’s first attempt at SUP resulted in her sitting on the board looking at the water,then  slipping a paw down the side of the board and plonking down into the water soon after, sinking underwater and reappearing with a very unamused expression.

Dogs and their humans on SUPs on the Thames

While Piers helped Skylar gaining her confidence on the board, Jordie and his human paddled downstream a bit: Jordie loved a swim and his human later ended up joining in the Thames too, with Jordie looking at him from a dry place on the SUP.

Group stad-up paddle boarding on the Thames with dogs

Once everyone was confident kneeling on the SUP, the paddling started, heading upstream towards Twickenham. I didn’t join paddle boarding, instead I followed the group from the riverbank.

With the sun shining and the lovely setting of the Thames, with the backdrop of Marble Hill Park and heather flowers along the riverbank, it was a great one to watch, and in fact many people stopped by, curious about that unsual group paddling off.

dog on SUP with woman
Rosie did love a jump into the water

With their own pace, the group made it down to Ham House, with Piers assisting where needed. They travelled on the right hand-side of the river (opposite Richmond and Ham House) as per Thames direction of travel, and some dogs decided to take a jump into the river at some point.

After a walk on the Thames path, I jumped onto the Hammerton Ferry to cross the river and watch them a bit closer. If you have a friend or partner not joining the SUP adventure, they can do it too: the ferry runs between Ham House Ferry Terminal to East Twickenham Ferry Terminal across the river (the service costs £1 each way – cash only -, is dog-friendly and dogs go free when on lead, otherwise £0.50, £0.50 is also the price for children and bikes, and is runs between 10am and 6pm).

Dogs and humans on SUP

To observe the river rules of travel (right hand-side), when turning to get back, paddlers had to cross the river. Thanks to the flow, travelling back downstream was much easier and quicker, and some of the humans progressed to standing on the SUP.

Paddle boarders at SUP with your Pup near Ham House

Back to the base a couple of hours later, everyone seemed to have had a great fun, and some expressed the desire to be back. At the “survivors pic”, we counted two humans who fell into the river and four dogs who at some point decided to make a jump during the adventure. Not too bad in the end.

Group photos of the humans and dogs participating to SUP With Your Pup

The dogs seemed happy about the adventure too!

Pack of dogs on stand-up paddle boards
The dog pack after SUP

Things to know

  • Your feet (up to the ankle or knee) will get wet (when you put the board in the water at least), so make sure you wear appropriate shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.
  • There is a chance you’ll end up in the water. So it may be a good idea not just to have a clothes change, but also to make sure you don’t have open cuts that could become infected; Piers said that he considers the water clean and he sometimes he goes swimming in the river, however in the past there have been people who got sick after doing open swimming in the Thames.
  • There is no changing facilities at River Lane. Back of Beyond Adventures has a van which carries kayaks and SUPs. So there is no place to get changed, unless you are happy to use the woodland nearby, and no place to leave your stuff. If you have a car you can leave your things there at your own risk, or Piers welcomed anyone who wanted to leave their clothes change into the van too.
  • As Piers advises, one has to be careful with things that sink quickly: glasses, etc.
  • Personal floating devices are provided for humans, but not for dogs, so you may want to bring your own for your four-legged.
  • On the day, the weather turned to be perfect in the end, but the event is rain or shine. The only case the session is cancelled is if there are thunderstorms or high winds that pose a safety risk for participants.

Next SUP With Your Pup session & other dog-friendly SUP opportunities

Pomeranian on SUP

Back of Beyond has been hosting SUP With Your Pup sessions for the last couple of years, after a number of unofficial dog-friendly sessions and interest from regulars. The next date will be confirmed in the next couple of weeks and will take place in September (we will add it to the Dog Events Calendar and give it a shout out as soon as we receive updates on this).

As they are keeping the group small and there are only 8 spots available, booking quickly is essential to avoid disappointment (if after the announcement you don’t see the date in the ‘Book Now’ section of their website any more, generally this happens when the session is sold out).

Weimaraner dog on SUP with owner and flowers

If you feel that you’d like to become more confident with stand-up paddleboarding before trying to add your dog to the equation, you can book a SUP lesson (these are meant to be without your dog) and then book a SUP with Your Pup one later.

On the other hand, in case you are an experienced paddle boarder and so is your dog, having already attended a session, you both can also join the SUP Socials that are held early mornings or at sunset (you can book through Back of Beyond’s website).

Read the full article from TheLondog here

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Taking your Dog on a dog-friendly Cargo Bike ride in London @TheLondog

If you fancy exploring London with your four-legged friend in a different fashion, there is an option that you should consider: taking your dog for a ride on a dog-friendly cargo bike in London! We found a dog-friendly place were you can hire the perfect one for the purpose, and went on a dog adventure to test it and tell you all about it.

Dogs on cargo bike in London

Exploring with a Dog-friendly Cargo Bike in London

Fox terriers on CarryMe Bike dog-friendly cargo trike

One thing that I had on my bucket list even before Argo arrived in our life was taking a dog for a ride on a cargo bike (my parent’s dog at the time, but any dog, really!). This year I finally got on to the task and found a cargo bike hire in East London that welcomes dogs. It is called CarryMe Bikes, and is located in Hackney, not far from the river Lee.

CarryMe Bikes is a community interest company that was founded in 2012 by Alix Stredwick, a bike enthusiast working in transport policy since 1999, “pushing for more sustainable, healthy forms of travel”, as she says. CarryMe Bikes is involved in a number of community projects and gives back to the local community. She started it as a part-time project, but in the last couple of years it became her full-time activity.

Alix explained that, so far, CarryMe Bikes has very sporadically seen people with dogs hiring their cargo bikes, and those few times they were families with children, who also happened to have a dog. She added that they were mostly small or medium-sized dogs, apart from one that was large, and that they all took the Bakfiets or the Nihola Family models.

She was so kind to invite us for a ride last weekend and Humphrey and Hattie, the Wired Fox Terriers, with their dad(s) Philip (and Gil) came along to help on this dog adventure!

Our dog adventure with a dog-friendly cargo bike in East London

Dog-friendly cargo bike with two fox terriers in East London

CarryMe Bikes is not only a rental. It also sells both the bikes they rent out and new ones, so their fleet is in constant evolution. In particular, last Saturday morning, a Bakfiets Cargotrike was available for our adventure. This black and wooden three-wheeled good-sized beast, with two wheels at the front, on the side of a sturdy wooden box, and two foldable bench seats (with four seatbelts/safety straps), was of the perfect size to carry our two canine companions.

According to the plan, Humphrey and Hattie would have travelled together in the cargo box, with Philip driving and myself following on a foldable bike (also kindly provided by CarryMe Bikes).

Before leaving

Two fox terriers in the bike box before departing

When we arrived, Alix briefed us about how to drive the cargo bike, warning that it could take a bit to get used to it, also depending on previous experience. Her advice was to take corners at a very slow speed and be mindful when turning, counterbalancing the weight of the box with the person’s weight, while sitting straight on the bike and staying relaxed.

Philip and Gil had been very mindful and brought two dog pillows and a blanket to fit in the box, in order to ensure that Humphrey and Hattie’s riding experience was extra comfortable. We then started to look at the best way to secure Humphrey and Hattie in the box. They both wore their harnesses, so we were able to shorten the seatbelts and secure their leads to them, tight enough so they would not be slack, avoiding the risk of our furry friends jumping out.

The Bakfiets also came with a rain cover, but Philip and Gil were confident that Humphrey and Hattie would have been fine without that extra layer, so we took it off and carried it with us in the cargo box, just in case.

Before leaving, Philip did a test drive around the block to become acquainted with the Bakfiets. His first feedback was that he didn’t feel too confident on it, since it felt a bit heavy, and was challenging especially when turning. He was also concerned when passing on speed bumps. On their side, Humphrey and Hattie, who participated to the test drive too, were very quiet and seemed extremely at ease on that new transportation device.

We decided that we would have driven directly to the river to keep on quieter safe paths and we were all set to go around 11.30am, planning to be back at 2pm.

Our ride along the river Lee and Hackney Marshes

Dogs on cargo bike on river Lee in London

The weather forecast for the day was not the best ever – cloudy with chances of rain showers -, so the original idea of organising a picnic was left aside and we headed off for a normal ride.

From the hire point it is just few minutes to the River Lee (probably about 5) and there are signs on the road pointing to a ‘Quiet Route’ for bicycles. It was easy to follow it (basically we just had to go always almost straight to reach our first destination). We went slow down the hill, with Hattie and Humphrey looking around from their privileged observation point, and they didn’t try to jump out when they saw a dog on the footpath, which was already a good thing.

Riding a bike with two dogs in East London Hackney Marshes

When we reached the river, we didn’t cross the first bridge we found, just because there was a sign indicating restricted access on the main bridge, while the pedestrian part was a bit tricky to get on with the cargo bike because of some trash bins in the way. For this reason, we decided to ride north on the West side of the river until we reached a second bridge (at Daubeney Fields). This time we crossed it and turned South on the Capital Ring. Home boats, water, bushes, trees and paths leading to Hackney Marshes were the landscape of our ride, and of course, two quiet dogs leading on the front!

I was very impressed especially by Hattie, who put her paws on the box and rode standing on them, as to enjoy it the most. We stopped after a bit to let them off to sniff around and have a good run (and a play with a ball). For the rest of the trip we alternated stretches with them running along our bikes (we were not speeding obviously), to get some good exercise, and stretches where they would ride in the cargo bike. Philip explained that he normally gives them a good 3-4 hours of exercise a day to wear out their energies!

Dogs on cargo bike in East London

On the path, we encountered the development Here East’s Canalside, which hosts cafes and other places where you can have a brunch and a drink. There were a few dogs around and we had  a coffee to go at Shane’s on Canalside, which is dog-friendly (and also hosts monthly doggie days!). There Hattie and Humphrey could have a drink, before heading to Hackney Marshes for another dog run.

Apart from Humphrey’s idea to roll in fox poo in the bushes, adding a fragrance to the adventure, we had just a little other incident towards the end of our adventure, with Hattie. Due to Hattie’s intolerance to her harness, during our adventure Philip had taken it off; when we stopped in Hackney Marshes for a last run before getting back, her leash had become a bit slack and Hattie impatiently tried to jumped off the bike almost hanging herself. Luckily Philip was there to catch her, and nothing bad happened, but good to keep in mind this risk and I’ll tell you more about some safety tips below in the post.

Dog-friendly bike on the canal

Philip’s feedback on our way back was that it takes time to get used to driving the cargobike and is probably the more you ride the more confidence you gain. I gave the cargotrike a brief try when at the marshes and I must agree with him: turning the bike is not too intuitive if you haven’t done it before and definitely needs practicing!

Luckily we were spared the rain and a few sun rays made their way through the clouds as we were on our way back, and it was not bad to ride with that temperature and sky. Nonetheless, I imagine that the best day for a dog ride would be a sunny one, if it is not too hot.

Read the full article @Londog here

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Dogs at The Murdér Express immersive experience @TheLondog

The Murdér Express combines an immersive performance – a mystery unravelling on board of the Murdér Express -, and fine dining, with a menu designed by BBC One’s MasterChef 2016 finalists, Billy and Jack.

The dog-friendly London things to do landscape has just earned a new exciting addition: “The Murdér Express”, by Funicular Productions. An immersive experience combining an acting performance and dining on board of a realistic fictional train in vibrant East London, which hosted their first special dog-friendly show on Sunday. The Londog went over to sniff it out: this it is all you need to know and why you should get on board the next dog-friendly experience!

Read the full article @TheLondog here