Dog Day on the Bay
by Scott Broecker
Need a change in your regular dog-walk routine? How about going out for a dog paddle instead? Three to four days a week when the conditions are right, Jerry Figuerres and his five-year-old Mini Aussie, Kalani, do exactly that.
Wading out into the gentle surf at San Carlos beach in Monterey, Jerry carries his stand up paddle board and paddle under one arm and gently lifts 20-pound Kalani by her sturdy life vest handle with the other. When the water is deep enough, he sets Kalani down just inside the rubber padded area of the board facing towards him.
Having gone through the routine more than a hundred times in the last year, Kalani is excited but remains totally relaxed as Jerry climbs onto the board. A few swift paddle strokes sends them both out into the bay.
With her leash still attached and within easy reach, Jerry velcros his own leash around his ankle. As the boisterous banter from the beach quickly fades into the distance, a whole new perspective on their surroundings slowly comes into focus.
A few months after losing his beloved 12-year-old Border Collie, Quigly, to cancer, Jerry began looking for a dog to adopt. He found a four-year-old Border Collie named Kai through Northern California Border Collie Rescue. He intended to adopt only Kai, but seeing how closely bonded Kai and Kalani were to each other, Jerry decided not to separate them and adopted them both.
With Kalani being smaller and more stable, Jerry started taking her out on his surfboard to surf small waves. After seeing that she felt comfortable going out on the water, he started taking her paddle boarding on a regular basis. Her calm demeanor, especially around the abundant wildlife in the bay, makes her a perfect paddling companion. Often approached and sometimes followed, out of curiosity, by otters, seals, and sea lions, Kalani will watch with interest, but never barks at them or gets over-excited.
Whether it’s seeing a great egret fishing atop the kelp or a pod of dolphins making their way along the coast, the surprises are endless out on the bay. On one occasion, Jerry even spotted a baby whale just 300 yards from shore.
After paddling over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, to Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, or doing a few laps around Monterey’s Heritage Harbor, Jerry likes to pull up over the kelp to relax and take in the amazing scenery. Opening up his dry bag, he takes out a few snacks for himself and treats for Kalani.
Over time Kalani has developed her sea legs and moves around the board with great agility. When Jerry starts paddling fast, Kalani will venture out to the nose of the board to get the full sensation of the ride. Having to counter-balance her has challenged Jerry and made him a better paddler. Occasionally slipping off the board, Kalani swims right back and Jerry can easily scoop her up by the grab handle on her vest.
Covering four to six miles during their two- or three-hour outings,
Jerry says that paddle boarding is his favorite form of exercise and that it’s more like playing than working out. And of course any time spent with Kalani, or any of his dogs, is always time well spent.
Stand Up Paddle Board Resources
Rentals & Lessons
Rental rates range from $20 to $35 for three- to four-hour rentals and include limited instruction, board, paddle, wetsuit and life vest.
Monterey Bay Kayaks
Monterey & Elkhorn Slough
Adventures by the Sea
Monterey, Pacific Grove, & Pebble Beach
Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz Harbor
Stand Up Paddle Board Co.
Pet Flotation Devices (PFD)