Fitzroy, my Beagle Pup is named after the great Captain of HMS Beagle, the ship that took Darwin to the Galapagos Islands, I’d toyed with calling him Darwin but these days I don’t feel evolution dealt me a fair hand. Vice Admiral Robert Fitzroy also founded the Meteorological Office and created what is now known as the Shipping Forecast. There is a sea area named after him there is Fitzroy Sound in the Falkland Islands, known by name to all army medics of my generation for the Treatment Station set up in the shearing sheds there in the Falklands war of 1982, its where I lost my first friend in the army too. My Beagle has a name to live up to and it’s high time he got his paws wet!
Fitzroy is only 15wks old but its important to get a dog at this stage of development comfy with activities you’d like to together through out your lives. Suitably named The Anchor pub at Pyrford in Surrey is situated on the Bank of the Wey, it has a car park and easy access to the river for my kayak. It is also; and this is important; a PUB, dog friendly one at that. On arrival I realised that I’d left my dry bag behind, normally this would be important because I need it to carry stuff like a mobile phone and car keys (In the old days that didn’t matter, I never had a mobile phone and the car key was a key, not a signal from a transmitter.) but today I wouldn’t need it because I wouldn’t be getting wet, right? (For those that want the suspense created by that “?” look away now … For those of a nervous disposition I did remain quite dry. … OK you can look back now.) This illustrates the point that the logistics of moving my Beagle have eroded my well honed Kayak prepping skills.
Fitzroy is prone to travel sickness at the this early stage in his adventures and he made it to the car park but, as I opened the hatch to let him out, he barfed. Good Effort Fitz. I’d prepped for this with well placed towels so there was no drama. I placed him in his PFD; Personal (or Puppy) Floatation Device for a walk along the bank of the river. There was a lot to see and for Fitz there was a lot more to smell. I felt rather proud that he didn’t run off, he was off his lead for most of the walk. (Yes he is a Beagle, he’s just a bit … chilled.)
Getting into the boat is a process, the kayak is plastic and it’s not something Fitz would naturally go in to so; learning to like it involved some previous training with treat hunts and pretty soon he followed his nose to the foot wells and got his reward. He was quite happy in the boat on the land but I wasn’t sure how he’d react afloat … I needn’t have worried; he loved it. You have to respect the water, he was tethered to me for the paddle and when he decided he’d go for a swim he actually pulled the boat along a wee bit.
As an introductory paddle the Wey was great and The Anchor Pub was the perfect spot with its car park, proximity to the water and Sausage and Mash! The bitter was good too (even if it was in a Shandy). I’m told the place is pretty full in the Summer and I can believe it; even on a late and chilly Winter’s day with snow squalls it was clearly popular.