Late last summer, my friend Emi and I went on a day trip. We visited a beach she goes to every summer, near the San Juan Islands. Emi told me before the trip that this was the beach where Racer learned to swim many years ago, and suggested that maybe this would be the place where Miles would learn to swim, too. I’ve always thought learning to swim wasn’t a big deal for dogs, but it turns out, neither the inclination or the confidence to swim come naturally to all dogs.
Miles and Racer hit the beach with gusto that day.
After finding a very smelly dead fish to roll in, Racer rushed to the water.
Although he risked washing way the delicious essence of dead fish, Racer was quick to dive into the water and swim.
When Racer got out of the water to play with Miles on shore, he suddenly got the chills. Being an American Hairless Terrier is not always easy!
Cold Racer looked so sad, that Miles got concerned and carefully checked on his friend.
Racer seemed to be a bit comforted by Miles’ concern, so he shook off, and got back into the warm water.
Miles stayed in his comfort zone: legs in the water, stomach above water.
Emi and I wandered to an area with lots of water, and took out Racer’s beach ball. She told me that if we got the dogs excited to play ball, and that she’d eventually start tossing it into the water for Miles. This is how she got Racer interested in swimming.
Miles did his usual routine, letting Racer have the ball, so he could chase him, and run laps around him!
When Racer lost interest in the ball and went back to swimming, Emi and I played fetch with Miles. We tossed the ball into shallow water first, and gradually threw it out further and further.
Sure enough, Emi’s plan began to work. Miles was going deeper into the water than he ever had before — up past his stomach!
When the ball lead him far enough out that he’d need to swim to get to it, Miles didn’t know what to do, so Emi and I walked to where he was. I coaxed him just a few inches further out. Miles carefully walked forward, looking to me for reassurance.
When the water got so deep that Miles’ back feet no longer touched the ground, his bum suddenly floated upward, and for a moment, he froze with great concern.
I couldn’t help but laugh when Miles’ bum was in the awkward floating phase.
After realizing he was okay and I was standing there in case of emergency, Miles decided to compensate for his bum floating upward, and raised his front legs. This caused him to be floating completely, which made his body rock from side to side a little. To stabilize his body, Miles started moving his legs around.
With each awkward leg shift to try and balance his floating body, Miles started to realize he could paddle, and move! He was swimming for the first time!
Miles’ first swim was a huge success!
Racer was there to greet Miles on the shore.
After his first swim, Miles celebrated on dry land!
I asked Miles if he was ready to swim across the next patch of deep water, and he was careful, but game. This second swim, he was way more relaxed.
Helping Miles learn to swim was one of my best (and most laughter-filled, sorry Miles!) memories from last summer. I can’t wait to see Miles swim more this summer.
How about you? Does your dog swim? If so, did their first swim take much coaxing?