Saturday, April 09, 2011

Another Use For Kayaks

It was a marvellous morning when I tromped down to Gyro Park beach in Cadboro Bay, with my little inflatable kayak on my shoulder. You know the one... there are heaps of photos of it all over the Kayak Yak blog. Here's one photo John took at the rally against the proposed marina in the Inner Harbour. And as I passed the parking lot, two large dogs leapt out from a large car and began sniffing all around the grass and a pole and then noticed me. And my kayak. And did a double-take. Well, you have to think of the meeting from their point of view. I was carrying the kayak on my shoulder, on the side facing them. To the dogs, I must have looked like some weird monster, perhaps in the shape of the National Film Board symbol (a giant eye with legs). Scent matters more to a dog, but the scent wouldn't have helped them. It was a mix of PVC rubbery boat and a shortie neoprene wetsuit that no longer freshens up when washed with Mirazyme. Gah, a weird rubbery sweaty monster that swayed around! I may even have grunted as my sandal slipped in the mud. No wonder they barked. No wonder they flinched back on their haunches and cowered, then advanced two steps. No wonder they growled and barked in the way that signals "Get back or I'll bite! I'm going to bite you NOW!" The monkey that lives in the back of my head had that kayak off my shoulder in an instant. (You know that monkey... we all have one. It's pretty quiet most of the time.) I held the kayak between me and the dogs in a grip that couldn't have been improved: fingers around the paddle that was velcro'ed to the side of the deck, thumbs inside the coaming pressing the inflated coaming against the paddle. I presented the smooth grey oval of the kayak hull to the advancing dogs. If those dogs bit, all they'd get would be a mouthful of PVC hull. And after shuffling that kayak across barnacled rocks, I was quite willing to let both dogs chew on it if necessary. Did I mention that they were a German shepherd cross and a Blue Heeler? Strong, aggressive things that put together weighed as much as me? But even as the monkey in the back of my head invented Kayak Martial Arts and put me into a Kung Fu stance, the frontal lobes were talking to the dogs. "Sit! Cut that out! I'm a person. Haven't you ever seen a boat? Come and smell it." Their owner came up then, apologizing and admitting that the one dog was a rescue and had never seen a boat before. We did a quick session of introducing the dog to the boat and by our conversation showing her that the world did in fact include smelly boat-rubber people and their toys. Then I went off and paddled on calm waters, spying baby otters and great blue herons and having a lovely time. Un-bitten. And apparently, a natural at Kayak Martial Arts.

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