Jade Small
Jade Small
January 18, 2024 ·  3 min read

Man Built Custom Kayak to Take Adopted Dogs on Aquatic Adventures

If you’re a water lover, then your best companion should be a golden retriever. Golden retrievers have a notorious affinity for water and would never pass up a chance to get in a lake.

It was no surprise for David Bahnson, a retired orthopedic surgeon in Vermont when his beautiful golden, Susie, jumped into his kayak one day to join him. [1] Bahnson is an avid Kayaker and he couldn’t always bring his dog along because there’d be no safe spot for her to sit in. She’d most likely fall off perching on the platform and her owner wasn’t willing to take that risk.

David with his dogs kayaking on a lake
Image Credit: David Bahnson

Susie was having none of it. One day, she jumped into the garbage compartment of her daddy’s kayak and fit right in. It served as a protective bowl and kept her comfortable, dry, and safe throughout the trip.

 Bahnson also added a modification to keep Susie dry. In 2015, he told Huffington Post,I realized I could put our newer Golden [Retriever] in the rear baggage opening and I built a removable coaming to keep water from splashing into the opening.”

When Ginger Came

The idea was so charming and perfect for dogs that when David and his wife got another golden retriever, he quickly carved out a hole for the new poodle to join in the fun.

custom dog kayak
Image Credit: David Bahnson

“After we got our second Golden I decided to just build another identical hull but to modify the baggage compartments to accommodate both dogs, adding coamings to both instead of the flat opening for a baggage compartment,” Bahnson said.

He said to The Dodo: “It’s like a triple kayak, only there isn’t enough room for the paddlers to put their feet — but it’s perfect for a dog.”

Bahnson taught his dogs how to get onto the kayak themselves and behave during the trip. Most people would be terrified of taking their dogs out on a boat because these poodles can get too curious sometimes. When they spot a frog or a colorful fish, it’ll be nearly impossible to keep them from jumping into the water on a wild goose chase.

However, Susie and Ginger enjoyed the most interesting adventures without getting out of their holes.

David said, “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.

Read: Retired Nurse Creates a Hospice for Dying Dogs

Forever in their hearts

David with his golden retrievers
Image Credit: David Bahnson

Read: Man Floats with his 20-Year-Old Dying Dog Every Day To Ease His Pain

Bahnson and his wife were very attached to their dogs. They went everywhere together and never left their pets behind when traveling. 

“Our dogs have always loved to travel with us in cars, on my airplane, in boats. Building a way for them to kayak with us just seemed like a logical choice, and the boats are fun to build anyway,” he said.

Once I taught one of my golden retrievers how to windsurf with me, and she was very good at staying on the board and really seemed to enjoy it. At one point she even swam several hundred feet offshore when I had gone windsurfing without her.”

Unfortunately, after living exciting lives filled with many amazing adventures, Susie and Ginger passed away. Their owners were heartbroken but eventually got another golden retriever to continue their legacy.

“My wife and her friends still use the kayaks and she takes our newest golden, Piper, along with her,” he said.

David with his golden retriever
Image Credit: David Bahnson

Keep Reading: This Cloud Has Internet Users Everywhere Debating: Cat or Dog?


  1. Man Built Custom Kayak So He Could Take His Dogs On Adventures.” Bored Panda. Dainius.
  2. Man Builds Kayak With Two Dog Shaped Holes And The Result Is Adorable.” Huffington Post. Eve Hartley.
  3. Man Builds A Special Kayak To Take His Dogs On Little Adventures.The Dodo. Stephen Messenger.