The dogs have crashed, exhausted from their weekend of travel, public events, beach wanderings, and adjusting to a new dog-friendly motel. Our annual weekend at the Maine/NH coast has been deemed a success by all of us!
Once we arrived in Kittery, ME, after a trip which took place mostly during torrential rains, we were pleasantly surprised to find that our dog-friendly motel, the Coachman, was actually a pretty nice place…the dog rooms ( very nicely outfitted) were at one end of the facility, near a nice dog-walking area along a marshy river. It is always a relief to find that as travelers with dogs, we can spend a few nights in some very decent lodging. Our Friday evening trip to the beach began as the weather broke, but ended just moments after we hit the sand, as the skies once again opened with a very cold rain. Oh well, I guess that meant it was time to hit the outlet shops! The Kittery Trading Post ( sponsors of the Paddlesports Show) was minutes from or motel, and we were able to pick up some camping food, supplies, and a nice dry case for my husband’s new iPhone.
This year, our focus for the weekend was on our two seminars at the New England Paddlesports Show, held at the University of New Hampshire Field House. Our goal was to share our experiences, and a few tips, to encourage others to safely get out on the water with their dogs! In addition to our presentations, we were given the opportunity to have a display table in the front lobby….quite an honor to be sharing space with representatives from the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the Maine Island Trail, Maine Kayak Tours, and the UNH Family Boat Building program. Since our seminar presentation on Saturday was not until 4pm ( last one of the day), we decided to hit the beach in the morning, and then set up our display table mid-day, to interact with folks who may not stay until our late presentation.
So Saturday morning was spent running and walking the dogs along Jeness beach (maybe getting them a bit tuckered out before their big afternoon). Though it was an overcast morning, it was 65 degrees, so a very nice time to explore a beach we last visited a few years ago.
We did have one negative experience with 2 unleashed dogs, though most of the other dogs were either leashed, or under good voice control of their owners. By now, we are used to dealing with unleashed dogs running up to ours, and apparently, one of these dogs, a wild Aussie that harassed Edgar is a known problem ( according to a nice fellow we were chatting with, who had some very nice, in-control unleashed dogs). I think what got me most irritated was that darn little Yorkie-type dog, who, while dragging a leash behind, barked very aggressively, trying to get at Edgar for at least 2 minutes, while the owner ran to catch up. This was while Edgar was being held/walked 2 feet in the air, held by his harness handle. Once the owner got control of her dog, she began to laugh, as if it was a very funny incident. I told her in no uncertain terms that it really was not funny. But that was the only blemish on an otherwise great weekend.
Once we arrived at the UNH field house, we set up our display table, showing off some of the gear we use, some videos from our blog, and handouts from various safety and advocacy groups that we promote. While one dog sat at the booth, the other dog “worked the crowd” in the field house. This was a challenge for our country dogs…lots of people, noises, and a very hot and stuffy environment. We provided outside breaks periodically, and they were rewarded for their very nice behavior.
While manning the table, we spoke with lots of folks, and provided resources and information to those inquiring about how to get started in paddling with their dogs. We met a very cute 4 month old Goldendoodle, who was quite the ball of wiggle, and who was showing off his new life jacket. A very enthusiastic young woman tried to encourage us to try SUP…despite my protestations, that no, we are really not interested in another outdoor activity! She has just started skijoring with her dog, however, so we had quite a nice chat about pulling sports. A fellow from Maine, who has opened an island campsite off the Maine coast (floodscove.com) also spoke with us…nice guy, and he grew up in Vermont, less than an hour from us. A representative from a PFD company promoted their dog life jacket, which is an interesting design. I will forward this information to my contacts at backcountryk9.com.
During the day on Saturday, in addition to the show, there was a middle school robotics competition occurring in the UNH pool…so there were TONS of young kids running up and down the hallway by us, always stopping to say hi to the dogs. Apparently the organizers over-ordered the pizza lunch, so one of the young guys gave us some of the leftover pizza ; still hot, tasty, and the dogs got some of their favorite snack, pizza crust.
My brother and sister-in law showed up (they live in Maine), so we were able to catch up a bit, before we all went to our seminars. That was really special!
Our Saturday seminar went very well, in our opinion! It was quite well attended (at least 35 people, higher than most seminars). Folks appeared interested in our material, we had no major technical snags, and though we began late because the previous speaker went over time, we finished up right on time. A nice dog named Tide won our first raffle basket, and his owner seemed quite pleased! Gryphon was at the front of the room ( Edgar sat this one out), and actually was interacting with the audience, even letting the nice man in the front row put his arm around him. This is very unusual for Gryphon, who is usually intimidated, scared, or unsure of people he does not know. I was extremely proud of my pup! After the presentation, we spoke with quite a few people, and they shared some wonderful photos of their own paddle pups. We are very thankful to Kev, Andre,Roger,Mary,Laurie, Zoltan,and John who permitted us to share photos of their paddlepups to use in our slide show.
After our Saturday seminar, we headed out to the ocean, for a seafood dinner at a restaurant we found last year. Eating our fried clams and scallops overlooking the ocean is quite a delight for we mountain residents. Then it was back to the motel, to get settled in before the predicted overnight snowfall began.
Yup, snowfall! We awoke to steady, wet, large flake snow. We returned to the nearest beach, where on Friday night it had poured rain. Sunday morning, our beach hike was in a blowing, windy snowstorm. The dogs were squinting from the blowing snow in their eyes, and I actually used my goggles. It was only about 25 degrees with wind-chill nearing 8 degrees. But we got to the ocean!
Our Sunday presentation was scheduled for early afternoon, though once again it was the final presentation of the day. We opted not to set up our table, and instead spent more time walking the floor with both dogs, and talking with different people. We had a few “woofs”, as there were other dogs present, but no incidents or problems, and the dogs actually seemed relaxed in this unfamiliar environment.
We decided that Sunday we would give Edgar top-billing, and have him be our fellow presenter at this seminar. Before we entered the seminar room, we let him run around a bit in the nearby “green room”. We also made sure we had at least 3 different chewy toys available in the seminar room.
Edgar did a very nice job! He stayed on his sleeping bag, and only got a bit fidgety once…when he was given the third, and new, toy, he was quite content, and chomped away for most of the presentation. Once again, we had a very good turnout , and the raffle prize went to a woman who also seemed very happy to have won. We again made connections with quite a few fellow paddlers,and hope to see them on our facebook pages and other social media.
We are appreciative to Jason at Backcountryk9.com, for providing discount cards that we encouraged folks to utilize. The people at KTP ( thanks, Nick!) really seem to know their stuff, as we had no issues at all with our schedules, equipment they provided, or any other aspects of our participation in this major event.
Our presentation had at its core an article I wrote for the backcountryk9.com blog a while back…for the show, it was tweaked, updated a bit, and kayaking aspects were added, but here is a link to that original article:
Of course, we could not face all those vendor displays without making at least a few purchases! We came home with some foam kayak paddle grips, and most important, a Malone cross bar/Downloader rack system, so we can easily place the kayak and a canoe on the roof of my car. No more improvised rack made of 2x4s…thanks to Rachel at Malone for all her help.
One of the consequences of attending the Paddlesports show is the increasing urge to get out and paddle! But we returned home to temperatures in the teens, snow flurries, and a dismal forecast for the upcoming week. Such is life in New England, so we will continue to plan out summer trips, clean and check our paddling gear, and get ready to once again hit the water. Safe paddling, and thanks again to all the folks who attended our presentations. We had a great time, and hope you did too.