How many times have you skipped an otherwise great activity because Spot couldn’t come along? Thanks to a handful of savvy Northern California outfitters, you don’t have to invest in your own watercraft to enjoy paddling down a lazy river with your pup at your side.
Two of the best: Catch A Canoe & Bicycles Too in Mendocino County has specially designed outrigger canoes that can accommodate pups as well as people. Its new “canine cruiser” features a padded platform where up to four dogs can comfortably reside while exploring the eight-mile Big River estuary. In Healdsburg, Sonoma County, Russian River Adventures takes a blue ribbon for its super-stable SOAR inflatable canoes that let all of you travel comfortably on a dog-friendly section of the Russian River where Buddy is free to join you in a clear and clean swimming hole or romp along the shore.
Headed up to Tahoe? A float trip down the Truckee River from Tahoe City to River Ranch Resort is a summer rite of passage for thousands of visitors, including the four-legged variety. Truckee River Raft Rentals will fix you up for a two- to three-hour trip with plenty of opportunity for shore breaks. Yes, the water is cold, but on a warm day it’s delightfully invigorating. Word of advice: make sure at least two humans are in your party, as dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle (included in the rental price) back to your car.
Sacramento also has a strong rafting scene, and we’re not talking about whitewater. The six-mile section of American River between Sunrise Boulevard and River Bend Park is packed each summer weekend with rafts and kayaks, many of them sporting canine passengers. American River Raft Rentals allows dogs at the owner’s discretion; just watch that Fido’s toenails don’t damage the boat. If you elect to use the company’s shuttle service, be forewarned that one of you will have to wait with the pooch at River Bend until your driver comes back with the wheels.