Retired Surgeon Builds a Custom Kayak to Accommodate His Two Beloved Golden Retrievers

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Several years ago, retired orthopedic surgeon and kayaker David Bahnson decided that he wanted to bring along his two golden retrievers, Susie and Ginger, to ride along with him on the water. He ordered a kit from Pygmy Boats and made special modifications in order to accommodate his beloved canines.

They are trained to get in the kayak themselves on command. They sit down, and off we go. When we come ashore, they’ll stay seated until I tell them it’s OK to get out. They never hopped out into the water, actually,” he said, adding that the dogs are strong swimmers regardless. We’ve seen other people kayaking with their dogs, but they usually have them in the cockpit with them. That’s kind of awkward, so this just worked out better. They each have a little dedicated space, and they just sit and enjoy the ride.

Unfortunately, both Susie and Ginger have since passed away, but Bahnson is currently training his new dogs to ride along with him.

I love my dogs. I love training them, the companionship. We’ve gone miles and miles of paddling with our dogs. They just really enjoy going places.


Kayak in Water

Dog and Doctor

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photos by Linda Bahnson

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.