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Old 15-06-2021, 07:45   #1
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Cruising with (or without) a dog

After years of hard work and planning we are is a position in our life where we can buy a boat to keep in the islands and spend a couple months 2-3 times a year on it. Only issue is that in a moment of weakness during the whole Covid mess I let my wife and kids talk me into getting a new dog. And not just any dog but a border collie, so now we have a one year old high energy and very smart dog that we are responsible for for the next 12+ years. Don't take me wrong, she's a great dog, well behaved, and very fun, but she needs regular activity and stimulation. I was assured by my wife when we got her that it would not interfere with our plans to travel and cruise, but now it is looking more and more like that was an empty promise as the family is quite attached to her.

My wife has the idea that we can take the dog sailing with us, but I can't imagine trying to keep a dog like that entertained on a boat, much less deal with all the hoops we have to jump through as we travel between islands/countries. Furthermore, flying her back and forth every time we want to go to the boat would probably be fairly traumatic for our dog. And what do we do when we want to spend time ashore at a restaurant, doing laundry, provisioning, shopping, etc...? We can't exactly leave the dog inside a 110 degree locked up boat while we're off doing our thing - though she would be a great deterrent to theft.

What do all of you cruisers with dogs do? We don't really have anyone to leave her with while we sail as she requires more attention than most people are able to provide. Even if we did have someone I'm not sure that would be a realistic solution as I think it would be confusing for our dog to be passed back and forth between two different "packs". My wife keeps implying that if it comes down to it we will find a good home for the dog, but I suspect that is something she is just saying for now to postpone the issue. Perhaps we could find a nice farm or ranch that she could move to and in reality she would probably be very happy in that setting. However, my wife and kids are very attached to the dog and I just don't think they will give her up without making me the evil bad guy.

I know this is more of a family issue and doesn't really relate to cruising per say, but just trying to get input from someone else who has possibly been in a similar situation. This has put me in a very difficult position as the next ten years or so are what I would consider our glory years - prior to grandchildren and while we are still healthy and able to go.


edit: FWIW, we would be getting a catamaran on the 45-50' range
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Old 15-06-2021, 08:05   #2
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by capnmatt View Post
After years of hard work and planning we are is a position in our life where we can buy a boat to keep in the islands and spend a couple months 2-3 times a year on it. Only issue is that in a moment of weakness during the whole Covid mess I let my wife and kids talk me into getting a new dog. And not just any dog but a border collie, so now we have a one year old high energy and very smart dog that we are responsible for for the next 12+ years. Don't take me wrong, she's a great dog, well behaved, and very fun, but she needs regular activity and stimulation. I was assured by my wife when we got her that it would not interfere with our plans to travel and cruise, but now it is looking more and more like that was an empty promise as the family is quite attached to her.

My wife has the idea that we can take the dog sailing with us, but I can't imagine trying to keep a dog like that entertained on a boat, much less deal with all the hoops we have to jump through as we travel between islands/countries. Furthermore, flying her back and forth every time we want to go to the boat would probably be fairly traumatic for our dog. And what do we do when we want to spend time ashore at a restaurant, doing laundry, provisioning, shopping, etc...? We can't exactly leave the dog inside a 110 degree locked up boat while we're off doing our thing - though she would be a great deterrent to theft.

What do all of you cruisers with dogs do? We don't really have anyone to leave her with while we sail as she requires more attention than most people are able to provide. Even if we did have someone I'm not sure that would be a realistic solution as I think it would be confusing for our dog to be passed back and forth between two different "packs". My wife keeps implying that if it comes down to it we will find a good home for the dog, but I suspect that is something she is just saying for now to postpone the issue. Perhaps we could find a nice farm or ranch that she could move to and in reality she would probably be very happy in that setting. However, my wife and kids are very attached to the dog and I just don't think they will give her up without making me the evil bad guy.

I know this is more of a family issue and doesn't really relate to cruising per say, but just trying to get input from someone else who has possibly been in a similar situation. This has put me in a very difficult position as the next ten years or so are what I would consider our glory years - prior to grandchildren and while we are still healthy and able to go.


edit: FWIW, we would be getting a catamaran on the 45-50' range
We sail with our 3 year old Aussiedoodle ( Australian Shepard x poodle). Like your border collie a very intelligent working style dog and he loves being on the boat. Although he doesn’t get as much exercise on land he is ‘working’ the whole day watching us sail, keeping his balance and observing the ocean. He finds it stimulating and likes having us so close by all day. One problem is he won’t eat or go relieve himself on the boat (we tried pee pads on deck etc) so we do go a shore a little more often to give our dog a good run on land. He always jumps right back on board. We can’t imagine sailing without him and always ensure he wears his life jacket.
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Old 15-06-2021, 08:26   #3
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

You all had a dream to cruise part time, then the family unanimously decided to get a high energy dog. This sounds more like the family attempting undermine the dream. Is your wife as into as she says she is? Kids don't hatch such plans, but are VERY impressionable.

Best of luck with a restless, high energy bread in tight quarters. You're going to need it.
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Old 15-06-2021, 08:36   #4
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Cruising full time with a dog works out for many people. Cruising infrequently with a dog would appear to be easy, after all you could put the dog in a kennel for several weeks a year if nothing else.

Cruising part time with a dog would appear to be the worst of all scenarios. Air travel with a dog in hot weather is miserable, unless the dog is small and can be carry-on. Most airlines will not allow your pet to travel in their cargo hold if the temperatures at the departure, layover or destination airports is forecasted to be above some temperature (84˚F?). If you can always book direct flights early in the morning or late at night that's one thing but the scenario that had us quit trying to fly with a dog was hoping that the dog would be loaded on to the plane for a connecting flight. If the temperature was too high we'd have to get off the flight and deal with working out some alternate arrangement. That wasn't worth dealing with even for domestic travel. It would really be a pain for international travel.
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Old 15-06-2021, 08:49   #5
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

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Originally Posted by capnmatt View Post
My wife has the idea that we can take the dog sailing with us, but I can't imagine trying to keep a dog like that entertained on a boat, much less deal with all the hoops we have to jump through as we travel between islands/countries. Furthermore, flying her back and forth every time we want to go to the boat would probably be fairly traumatic for our dog. And what do we do when we want to spend time ashore at a restaurant, doing laundry, provisioning, shopping, etc...? We can't exactly leave the dog inside a 110 degree locked up boat while we're off doing our thing

It won't work for the reasons you specify as well as the difficulty inherent in taking a dog ashore even in the USA. The dog would have to be paper trained even on a local cruise. Learn from others, don't try it.



Quote:

What do all of you cruisers with dogs do? We don't really have anyone to leave her with while we sail as she requires more attention than most people are able to provide.

The same thing that other people do who are committed to maintaining an ability to travel. They plan ahead and structure their life so that they don't have commitments that interfere -- not just dogs, but vacation homes, furniture, houseplants, season tickets, deep commitments to fraternal or service groups, small businesses, etc.



I have many people in my life who have given up various dreams and goals because they had pets that they could not or would not find a way to care for while they were away.


You're about to become just like them.


Or you can ask your wife to keep her promise to avoid having the dog become a barrier to travel, and make a plan. Based on the experience of people around me, she may say no.
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Old 15-06-2021, 08:59   #6
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

My sailing mentor & friend is preparing to cruise again (Atlantic crossing, then Med, then on to Cape Town / S. Africa, then back across to S. America).

He is a veteran cruiser.

He had a large dog. He just gave it to his neighbor.

Per his words, cruising with the dog is not practical.

If the dog gets injured or sick it while traveling would be a BIG problem, and most countries have strict medical/quarantine restrictions for animals.

Cheers
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:05   #7
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Same as 2 above.
You can do it. The stories that you will tell someday!
A struggle or two that will make for a challenge is not cruise ending, rather, cruise enhancing.
While we do have to take one dog ashore, it is usually a fun adventure.
We have had three dogs; one loved it but passed on. One wonít poop or pee on board and we are soon to indoctrinate the puppy who is high energy.

Good luck
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:07   #8
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

You did not mention how old your kids are or if they will accompany you. If they are old enough to stay ashore while you and your wife are gone, they can keep the dog. Or a friend who likes dogs can board your dog while gone. We enjoy sailing with our dog, but we just sail locally. Transporting an animal to other countries will likely be a major hassel.
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:17   #9
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Read "Addicted to Sailing" by Norris Hoyt. There's a great chapter about how he and his family sailed with their dog. I won't go into details, but parts of his story are hysterical...

My wife just got a dog. A puppy. I told her two things. One, I won't pick up dog poop when walking the dog and two, the dog can't come on the boat. I have enough trouble with human hair. No dog.

So either the dog stays with one of my sons, or I go solo...
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:18   #10
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Better still, take the dog and leave the wife behind. thumb:
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:27   #11
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

We cruised with a yellow lab. He loved the boat, and he was clipped in with his harness. My wife really enjoyed having him on board. I took him to shore to pee and poop, so no overnight crossings with the dog. We stayed coastal. Also, we stayed in the US.
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:29   #12
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

We have a Border Collie aboard that has been to Alaska and back via the inside passage. He has loved to be on the boat. His reaction to whales and other marine life has been incredible. Unfortunately he is getting old and can't jump aboard as easily anymore (hip dysplasia). Lifting him aboard from the dinghy is a little tricky - he is 75 pounds.

If going to Canada be sure to have dog's inoculation papers with you. Both Canadian and US customs may want to see them.

On the practical side he quickly learned to do his business on deck. The salt water pressure wash makes quick work of it. Many dogs will burst before going on a boat so we are lucky to avoid twice daily trips ashore.
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:32   #13
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

whahahaha, great self inflicted wound! Love!

I'm looking for a Skippertjie (Belgian barge dog type) myself.

I think you'd have to get the dog to take to swimming at anchor, and keep the hair short?

But they should stay busy on a passage I suspect, chasing every passing reflection, bow wave, distant booby, and generally moving about....

Get it to use 'the mat' before you go aboard is my advice!

Good Luck!
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:34   #14
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

Some take their dogs, but it's not an easy go. Potty training can be tough, many trips to shore so they can relieve them selves, some animals are never ok with the sea motion, dogs are slippery on fiberglass decks.
It probably depends on how the dog does with it, otherwise it's not fair to the dog.
Will you travel outside the US? That's another issue to keep up with.
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Old 15-06-2021, 09:35   #15
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Re: Cruising with (or without) a dog

You donít say where you intend to cruise, and that can make a huge difference.

I recently returned form sailing for three months in the Bahamas with my mini labradoodle, Jack, who was 6 months old when I set out and is 10 months old now.

Jack is generally well behaved, but he does need to be walked twice a day. Since I was mostly moored or anchored out, that involved loading him into the dinghy, landing on the beach and playing ball for an hour or so. He loved it. Was it a fair bit of work for me? It was, but I enjoyed our walks a lot.

Many restaurants in the Bahamas have outside seating and he was always welcome. I couldnít take him into grocery stores, so I had to leave him aboard on occasion, but that was pretty rare.

The Bahamas make importing o dog pretty easy, and since we were in the same country as we went from island to island, clearing in and out wasnít a burden.

The biggest issue was the passage y to and from the U.S. to the Bahamas. My home port is Charleston, SC, and I sailed the 450 miles direct. Jack doesnít much care for passages, but he simply got in the berth with anyone who was off watch. He will pee and poop on deck. I trained him from the beginning to do so, though he prefers going ashore. On a three day passage, he pees and poops maybe twice. I suspect heíd adapt on longer passages, but thatís not in my plans at the moment.

Iím looking forward to heading back to the Bahamas with Jack this fall.

PM me if you have further questions.

Scott
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