Kayak Group Offers Doggie Life Jackets So Pets Can Hit the Water

By Jeanmarie Evelly on June 25, 2014 7:15am 

 The Long Island City Community Boathouse now offers life vests for dogs, giving pet owners the chance to take their pups out on the water for a paddle around Hallets Cove.
The Long Island City Community Boathouse now offers life vests for dogs, giving pet owners the chance to take their pups out on the water for a paddle around Hallets Cove.
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Eliana Castanho

LONG ISLAND CITY — It's a new twist on the doggie paddle.

A kayaking group in Queens now offers life vests for dogs, giving pet owners the chance to take their pups out on the water for a ride around Hallets Cove.

The Long Island City Community Boathouse, an all-volunteer group that hosts kayaking trips and free walk-up paddling events, now has 10 doggie-floatation vests in five different sizes, fitting pooches ranging from 15 to 120 pounds.

The vests are made by Extrasport and were picked up earlier this month.

"We figured, why not make it a little easier for them to take their pet on the water, and safer?" said Ted Gruber, an event coordinator for the LIC Community Boathouse who said the pet-vests are a way to get more people interested in their activities on the water.

"We're out to create interest in what we do and this is just another avenue," he said.

The group is currently allowing dogs during its walk-up paddling program at Hallets Cove, which departs from the beach at Vernon Boulevard and 31st Avenue, north of Socrates Sculpture Park. The next event is on July 5 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Participants — who must be able to swim and are required to sign a waiver and don their own life vests — get the chance to kayak around the sheltered waters of the cove for up to 20 minutes at a time, staying within buoyed boundaries set up by Boathouse volunteers.

In addition to the walk-up paddling, LIC Community Boathouse hosts kayaking trips to various destinations, primarily along the East River, though pooches currently aren't allowed on those.

"We're not yet ready to take dogs up and down the river," Gruber said. "For now, we're testing this."

To take part in a paddling trip, participants can request a spot by filling out a form online. Active volunteers are given the first shot at a space, and the remaining seats are doled out via a lottery. The events are popular and fill up quickly, Gruber said.

This summer, LIC Community Boathouse will also be offering walk-up paddling at Stuyvesant Cove, as well as at Anable Basin and Gantry Plaza State Park as part of "City of Water" day on July 12. A full calendar can be found here.

The events are free, though donations are strongly encouraged as the group relies entirely on volunteers. For more information, visit the LIC Community Boathouse website.

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