Amy Besunder, 42, is the co-owner of Populuxe Brewing in Seattle, Washington, a cheerful neighborhood brewery that serves playfully descriptive brews like Beer Snob Brown and Cinderblock Canadian Dark Ale. When she isn't brewing, Besunder is out paddling with Leroy, her pooch. Leroy is an 8-year old German Shorthaired Pointer.
Besunder and Leroy understand that attitude puts a little more push in the paddle.
"We rock a 17-foot Coleman Canoe," Besunder says.
As a German Shorthaired Pointer, Leroy was born to point and doesn't limit that proclivity to land. According to Besunder, "Leroy sits up and points at other paddlers." Of course, Leroy also notes and nods to every feathered critter. "Leroy is a bird dog by nature if not by nurture. While I have never hunted him, he loves checking out waterfowl from afar."
Besunder and her buddy paddle the lakes of Lewis and Yakima County where there’s “beautiful scenery, lots of solitude, great fishing, and tons of nature."
Besunder didn't modify her canoe in any way to accommodate Leroy. "Leroy is happy to sprawl out on the floor of the canoe," she says. And he boards the boat with no prompting. "As soon as the canoe hits the water, Leroy leaps in. He loves adventure and knows he'll get to swim and play ball somewhere along the line."
Leroy was named after the titular Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and whereas Leroy is generally happy to merely point at paddlers and waterfowl and be a good, good Leroy, one day, he wasn't content with simply pointing.
"Leroy and I went out for a paddle on the Yakima River a year ago,” Besunder recalls. “Along the way, we encountered a herd of deer hanging out alongside the river. Leroy was intrigued and decided to jump in and swim to the bank to get a better look. Unfortunately, I could do nothing to stop him." The current was swift and Leroy wasn’t about to break his pursuit. "I was paddling with a strong current down river and couldn't slow the canoe."
Then, the canoe flipped. "I lost my supplies and it took all my strength to muscle it to shore.” When Besunder finally pulled the canoe to the bank, Leroy was nowhere to be found.
"I had to walk through underbrush, calling Leroy's name, until he finally appeared."
Besunder paddled off with a takeaway: "I learned a valuable lesson about paying attention to my dog's cues. I now put an end to Leroy's roaming tendencies before they start by redirecting his attention."
However, as Leroy ages, his cues are often that he's happy and sleepy under the sun. "Much of the time, Leroy is happy to sprawl out on the floor of the canoe."
And in spite of that one wayward leap and consequent spill, Besunder and Leroy are besties. "Spending time with my dog is the best...period,” she says. “He is a fun-loving, adventurous dude and I am lucky to have him as my partner in crime."
And Leroy has added an essential five-letter word to his vocabulary: canoe!
"When I say 'canoe,' Leroy goes bananas. He leaps about and yaps until we get a groove going on the water."
Leroy's joy works like a turbocharger for Besunder.
"His enthusiasm makes me paddle faster. I am lucky to have such a great paddling companion."
If you too want a furry paddling pal, Besunder tenders some advice.
"Start out slow, plan to paddle for an hour, and stop and play after that. Your dog will associate playing with paddling and form a love affair with the activity."
Besunder's love affair with Bad, Bad Leroy Brown has her wanting to one day take on the big, bad Alaskan Inside Passage with her buddy.
"I'd love to paddle the Inside Passage with Leroy. I'd need to get him used to a kayak but I think he'd love it!"
Have a furry paddling pal? Want to share your adventures? Contact Katie McKy at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Paddler and Pooch" in the subject line. You will have to provide photos of you and your beloved buddy.
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