Those who use the stroke imagine that the way that they move their hands and arms in doing this stroke is imitative of or similar to the way dogs use their front paws when they swim. From the late 19th century, we have an eloquent description from Dan Beard: “In this method the arms move like the front legs of a dog, and the swimmer's feet kick in any old way to keep him from sinking.” As you can see from the lack of a prescribed kick, this is not one of your more formalized swim strokes, so don't look for it in Olympic competition anytime soon. Beard both wrote the text and illustrated The Outdoor Handy Book, which was kind of an early Boy Scout Manual.
|| 1. Beard, Daniel Carter. 1900. For Playground, Field, and Forest; the Outdoor Handy Book. New York: C. Scribner's sons.