Let's Go To The Dogs?

Let's Go To The Dogs? I want to share a few thoughts that I hope will encourage you to take your dog fishing and a few tips to insure their comfort and safety.


Holly always wants to go fishing!

Holly always wants to go fishing!

Is there any chance that dogs may like to go fishing as much as we do? Let’s just think about that. When you recently got up early one morning, was Bowser looking you right in the eyes waiting to see if this was a bathroom call or the beginning of a fishing day? You knew he was anticipating the magic words . . . “You wanna go fishing?” And when you spoke the magic words, Bowser did the happy dance by leaping in the air with his tail spinning like a propeller. He barked his answer three times . . . “Yes, yes, yes,” just like some people I know, only Bowser doesn’t require coffee!

   If your Bowser is anything like the dogs I’ve had, they race you to the boat after you park the truck. If on a leash, they drag you all the way down the ramp gagging and coughing! Not you, Bowser. Once on the boat they mount themselves on the helm like a hood ornament or assume position in the passenger seat. I know this from years of experience! I want to share a few thoughts that I hope will encourage you to take your dog fishing and a few tips to insure their comfort and safety.

   As my first example, Eddie, our Maltese puppy, started fishing with my son Aaron and I when we bought our first boat in 1988. In addition to normal training like sit and stay, he had to learn to stay away from the edge of the boat, especially while we were moving. He also learned our fishing routines. We would let him take his sweet time visiting all the trees and grassy knolls. And overtime, he mapped out his favorite stops at all the lakes and rivers we fished. The only boating accidents he ever had were due to not feeling well or something he ate.

Pup with life vest fished the US Open at Lake Mead

Pup with life vest fished the US Open at Lake Mead

   On the other hand, Sheila our adult Maltese that we adopted about 8 years ago was already trained and instinctively used caution. She was also faithful to map her way around every launch area before boarding the boat and after. Both of the dogs didn’t require drinking or eating much while on the boat unless it was hot. However, I think it’s normal for a larger dog to drink more water and need a potty break during a full day. I assume every dog is different. That may also explain why anglers have beached their boats during a prime fishing time? Some have a hard time keeping their Labs and Retrievers from jumping in the water after a duck, for a drink or to pee and most of the time there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s allowed and in a safe area. With some planning and patience almost every pooch can be trained and develop good bathroom habits.

   Something else comes to mind about safety and that’s a life vest for your pet. I never felt we needed one, but I think it’s a great idea for a number of reasons. It’s a sure way to protect your dog if they go overboard by accident or on purpose. I’ve also seen people pick up their dogs by the vest with great ease. This would have helped me the time that Eddie fell in the water trying to leap from the boat to the dock at Clearlake in Calif. I barely reached him in time by grabbing his long hair on top of his head as he was going down.

   Unlike some dogs, he wasn’t a good swimmer and he could have gotten trapped under the dock or boat. Using a leash is always a good idea in controlling your dog while on or off the boat. Many lakes I know require all dogs on a leash on the shore or in the parking lot.  Using a leash is how I trained Eddie when he was a frisky pup. My doggies always loved being around my feet while I was fishing and that created a danger of me tripping or stepping on him. If you step on them, their yelp tends to pierce your ear drums and stop your heart! Just a warning.

Sheila in her favorite position

Sheila in her favorite position

   Weather presents other issues to consider. Extreme heat is hard on everyone, especially furry creatures! I use to dip my dogs in the live well or over the side of the boat to cool them off. Also a wet towel over and under them really helped to keep them from overheating. In hot or cold weather, my dogs preferred to stay under the console when I was fishing, especially when I created a tent for them with a towel over the steering wheel. In cold weather I wrapped them in a dry towel. If your dog likes being under the console while you’re driving just be sure they have padding under them because it can be a rough ride on a bare floor.

   Earlier this year my son Chris was fishing Pyramid Lake with his dog Holly and my other son Brian. They were catching catfish with hunks of dough balls on large treble hooks. Brian had put his rod down for a moment and Holly took that opportunity to eat the dough ball. Not being able to get the large treble hook out of her throat, they left the lake and headed for the vet. After finding the hook on the x-ray, they decided surgery wasn’t an option and hoped and prayed the hook would dissolve and work its way out. Prayers were answered and Holly is doing very well today and still fishing. Dogs will do all sorts of crazy things like eating your baits or laying on your lures. They don’t seem to care that you will have to give them a Mohawk or pull and cut the hooks out. In addition to hooks there can be poisonous snakes, broken glass and so many other things on the shore they shouldn’t have or be exposed to.

Me, Susie and Sheila ..Girls day taken by Bonnie

Me, Susie and Sheila ..Girls day taken by Bonnie

   When Eddie passed on about 13 years ago, we went without a dog for over two years. No one could replace Eddie. Everyone knew him as part of the Martens’ fishing team. When allowed he would always be on the boat during pre-fish and during the tournaments. For years, Eddie and Aaron were the pre-show and post-show at those tournaments. Aaron would tease Eddie and Eddie would assume his love/hate mode. He chased Aaron all around the parking lot snarling and sometimes hanging on his pant leg. Eddie also knew who our biggest competitors were…Jay Poore and John Ed Wilder. Two different times Eddie snuck up on John Ed while we were standing around and peed on his leg. Those times were always good for a big laugh from everyone except John Ed!

   It may be my imagination, but does it seem that more and more anglers are taking their dogs fishing with them? And have you noticed that when the dogs are on a boat they are usually smiling? I rest my case.

   In recent years I have assumed the role as the Gloria Allred attorney for dogs. You can just call me Carol Allbreed and I will plead their case for them anytime and anywhere. Most dogs don’t have a voice but if they could talk they would be saying to you, “Hey, take me too!” As Carol Allbreed I hope you will consider taking your best buddy fishing with you someday soon. All they want is some fresh air, a change of scenery and some one on one time with you. You’re their best buddy and the one they live for.

   When my fishing pal Sheila passed away two years ago at the age of 14, it left a hole in my life. I miss her terribly, especially when I go fishing. But, I take comfort in knowing she lived a full life mostly because of all the fishing trips we had together. The same applies to Eddie who also lived a full and exciting life on the tournament trail.

   In closing, I truly hope you have wonderful experiences with your best buddy in the years to come. Why not ask Bowser what he thinks?

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