MOUNT VERNON — Owner Rachel Radcliff of Mount Vernon calls her small, black-colored canine companion “Roman the Adventurous Pug,” an apt name for a sturdy and stout small dog with a humorous good nature — and his own Instagram page.
Their local kayaking trips on the Kokosing River, to Knox Lake to ply the calm waters there, and even to Whitefish Falls in Ontario, Canada, this past summer is a testament to Roman’s love for riverine treks. Though he is small in stature, as pugs invariably are, he is surprisingly dense at more than 25 pounds.
Like a boat captain perched on the front of their kayak, it sometimes appears as if Roman is helping his human companion chart a water trail each time they kayak. And Radcliff makes it a point to stress safe river passage for both of them.
“He’s not exactly the greatest swimmer, which is why I got him his life jacket,” she said. “It’s super important for his safety and for mine that we each wear one.”
The word about “Roman the Adventurous Pug” and his safe kayaking habits became known some time ago to Knox County Park District Director Lori Totman and park district administrator Katie Hux. Two river tragedies over the summer have emphasized more than ever the need for visitors to the Kokosing and Mohican State Scenic Rivers to wear life jackets. Totman informed Knox County commissioners about Roman’s adventurous disposition during their Oct. 1 meeting.
“He’s kind of become our (Knox County Park District) mascot, especially on the water,” Totman said.
Radcliff, who is an avid kayaker, does more than just ensure she and Roman wear their life jackets. Before they venture into a river or other waterway, she also checks water temperature, and if it’s a river, the current flow rate in cubic feet per second on her river app. The same information is available on the Knox County Park District website by scanning a QR code.
Healthy river flow for kayaking is between 100-300 cubic feet per second (CFS); anything above 300 could mean a high flow rate that is potentially dangerous to anyone other than highly experienced kayakers, while flow rates under 100 CFS indicate the water is low and kayaking is not optimal, according to the park district.
Radcliff said she and Roman have visited all of the Knox County Park District’s parks, and have a particular affinity for Honey Run Waterfall and Wolf Run Regional Park because of its “Bark Park.” They are both looking forward to this Saturday’s Barktoberfest at Wolf Run, which includes a costume contest Roman will once again enter. Roman is listed on the event flier as the park district mascot.
Last year, Roman came as a bee — sporting antennas from a headband and “winged” up like a champ. He is fine in most any costume as long as he doesn’t overheat, she said. Barktoberfest will give them both an opportunity to put more photos up on his Instagram page. They also belong to a Facebook group, Kayaking with Dogs.
“She (Radcliff) is a huge supporter of Barktoberfest and donates a quilt each year for our silent auction,” Hux said.
Roman is five years old and Radcliff, who grew up in Centerburg and now lives and works in Mount Vernon, said he was kind of a “rescue” situation coming from Berlin Township. Radcliff works as an administrative assistant for a local investment firm, and her parents Ron and Lori Radcliff love the little guy as well. He comes over to their home during the holidays decked out in his favorite bowtie. Her parents own a French bulldog Roman likes to pal around with, as well as a large cream-orange colored cat named Ryder.
“Roman looks good in a bowtie and also has a coat and boots for winter,” Radcliff said. “Pugs are comical, little clowns who are lazy couch potato dogs.”
That would be the case except when he’s on the open water, aboard a kayak in his life jacket, and keeping dry with his favorite “napping towel.” That’s when Roman is truly on adventure’s trail.
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