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Old 02-16-2008, 06:45 PM   #1
JeanneP's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,098
Default Dogs On Board

First. I love dogs. And cats. And birds. And lots of other animals as pets. I've had many pets myself, and my five siblings and I weren't the only inmates of our family zoo.

We just brought our boat to the dock to pump out the holding tank and get water, and do some cleaning, etc. The dock has room for three boats and a four-hour maximum time limit, so it's usually very busy with visits by the boats in this 86-boat mooring field.

I was talking with the fellow on one of the other two boats at the dock when up from below jumped his full-grown Doberman Pinscher who started barking threateningly at me. The dog seemed well-trained to stay on the boat to protect his territory, but there was no mistaking the aggression in his bark. I assume that the dog has been trained to protect his territory (the boat).

I make no secret of my opinion that a full-time cruising boat is no home for a dog, and the tropics are additionally a difficult place to keep a dog healthy. I understand how difficult it can be to leave behind a beloved pet, but I remain convinced that to do so is a kindness, to the animal, its owners, and the rest of the community that will have interaction with dog and owners. It annoys me to see dog owners bring their dog ashore and allow the dog to do its business on the beach and leave it for others to happen upon.

This dog, however, worries me for another reason. It is a big and strong animal with an "attitude". What happens if, heaven forbid, the owner calls for help because he has been injured on board his boat, which is on one of the moorings. What risks are any good samaritans exposed to if they come to this skipper's aid? It looks an uncomfortable situation to me.

What do others think?

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 02-16-2008, 07:00 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,619

This is a hugely emotive issue and I am sure many will disagree with me but, imho, a boat is no place for a dog. Dogs, and I love them too but abstain from having one because of my itinerant lifestyle, need exercise and terra firma under their paws. They are made to run, smell the smells of the woods or the shore or the fields. They are made to guard sheep, point out game, hunt rodents, retrieve shot birds, guard their homes and their owners. They are not made for the cramped spaces of a cruising yacht and, mostly, they do not fair well in the heat.

Cats can, depending on the individual, have a happy maritime lifestyle but that is mostly dependent on their ability to sleep for much of the time and their preferences for warm, cosy corners. Dogs are another animal altogether. There may be the odd one which acclimatises to and maybe even loves a boat life but I suspect that they are few and far between. On the other hand, even those dogs which accept the life probably would rather live in a log cabin in the mountains as long as the dog's owner was there too.

When I swallow the anchor completely and stop spending my working life in airports then, and only then, will a dog come into my life once more.

Aye // Stephen

Yacht NAUSIKAA | Call Sign: 2AJH2



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Old 02-16-2008, 08:40 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 61

I think you're right. We were anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia, when a fellow Island Packet owner pulled up in his dinghy to say "Hello". He had a golden retriever aboard, and told us that he had taken the dog ashore for a walk and "potty break". A Customs officer had confronted him and told him to get the dog back onboard ASAP, and if he ever saw the dog ashore again, he would summarily shoot it with his pistol.

We sail with a cat. She's OK onboard, but doesn't really like it. A dog needs room, something you just don't have on a boat.
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