Stand-Up Paddleboarding, SUP for short, is an emerging sport with Hawaiian heritage that’s caught on all up and down California. The newest craze: teaching dogs to hitch a ride. From Central Valley rivers to Sierra lakes to coastal coves and bays, people and pups are enjoying this invigorating new way to spend time together. You don’t need to own your own equipment to give it a try, but you may want to invest in a doggie life jacket to keep Spike safe during those irresistible jump-off moments.
A good place for an introductory outing is Bluerush Boardsports in Sausalito, which organizes doggie paddles led by a team member from 5:30-7 p.m. every other Thursday year-round, weather permitting. Paddlers with their own equipment can join in for free, while rentals are offered at $20. Many first-timers find that both they and their canine companion can pick up the basics in just one outing. After a leisurely excursion around the Sausalito houseboat community, participants gather on the deck at Fish restaurant, where salty dogs can pant it off while their people enjoy a meal.
You and your pup can also find instant SUP love with 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael, where Dog-Paddle Saturdays in July feature outings led by professional dog walker Angela Gardner of All About Paws. Show up by 9:45 a.m. for a 10 a.m. departure on a one-hour paddle that sponsors promise will be “pawsome.” Rentals, which include board, paddle and life jacket, are $10, and those with their own equipment can join the woofy excursion for free.
Looking for a SUP community closer to home? Go to sup.meetup.com and enter your zip code: You’ll find enthusiasts, many of them with dogs, meeting regularly in Sacramento, Napa, Modesto, Lodi, Woodbridge, the Tri-Valley region, East Bay, Tahoe and beyond.