4 Tips on Sailing With a Dog!
We sail. Yep … right now it’s a small 26 footer on the Ottawa River. But we have BIG plans! In 2015 we hope to sail around the Mediterranean hopefully on a 40-50 footer. It is my bipeds dream to own a Beneteau one day … perhaps sail the Caribbean with is as well. A dream they are hell bent on making come true.
So, they started. First the licenses were needed, that meant tests and learning how etc. and now it is all about practice on the slightly calmer waters of a river. Soon we will do a test run – we hope to sail from Croatia into Venice in 2014. The roles and responsibilities have been divvied up to plan for the big trip. With one biped reading books like “the Salty Dog” to get all the information needed for my part in this voyage. Oh yes folks I shall do 22 countries in one single year!
We are not there yet… but I can already tell you about sailing on the great rivers and lakes of the north.
1. Extreme Temperatures: In Canada we live in a country of extremes. That includes our weather. The first thing to remember is that heat and cold will likely be the greatest issues you will have to deal with regarding your canine companion. For this my bipeds have invested in some tops for the cold and a great cooling mat for the heat. The cooling pad is vital especially on a smaller boat where there is no fridge and no ice and nothing designed to cool.
First time we knew we needed something was when mom had to think fast as I couldn’t bring my temperature down one hot summer afternoon. I was fading, breathing wrong and it was getting dangerous. The bipeds had the smart idea of grabbing a t-shirt, and placing it on top of ice packs inside the cooler and placed me on top. Within a minute I was fine and curled up on the cool t-shirt and dozed off. That was when the cooling pad became a priority purchase.
2. Safety: The differences between sailing and motorboats are many but I will only go into the ones that affect us canines. The most obvious one is that sailboats tilt … constantly. On a river even more so than a lake because you have to “tack” (go side to side in order to move up or down the river with the wind in the sails). Our sailboat has been known to tilt up to 35 degrees. That can be dangerous for a dog! In our case that means possible canine overboard! So what do you do? Besides the obvious options of either keeping the dog tethered (check) and with a life vest (check) the question also can become one of comfort. It is exhausting to always be re-adjusting the position to stay horizontal! My bipeds found a simple solution. They have attached my sling bag, to the handle of the hatch and I swing like in a hammock. I am out of the way of feet and ropes, I am always horizontal as the boat tilts and I do not and I am harnessed in – tethered for safety. I have been known to snooze for a long time this way being rocked like in a cradle by the sailboat.
3. Bathroom: It is the one thing we get asked the most. “where does he go?”. Those of you that know me know that I am indoor potty trained. I use the mini pup-head (20”x20”).
Pup-Head™ “the Original Portable Indoor Dog Potty” with Pup-Grass™ is like a patch of grass for your dog to potty on. It is a simple system that is easy to clean and easy to travel with, but most important, it works with a dog’s natural instinct to go potty… The Pup-Head family of potty products for dogs comes in three sizes from Mini to Large. They are the only dog and pup potties made with Pup-Grass™ Synthetic Grass Built for dogs with instant drainage and antimicrobials. Pup-Grass™ is a natural feeling, synthetic grass that is pre-scented with our special patent-pending organic scent. Your dog will be attracted to use the indoor portable dog potty almost immediately. Includes a three piece system that includes a heavy duty yet light weight tray and scented Pup-Grass™ potty mat.
Pup-Head™ Portable Indoor Dog Potty got its name because we designed it for people who take their dogs on boats and needed a place for their pup to go potty. It is also a perfect solution for apartments, high-rise buildings, boats, or recreational vehicles and great during bad weather. Perfect for pet owners with busy or unpredictable schedules, dog owners with disabilities and seniors. Anyone who needs a convenient place for his or her dog to go potty.
Head — bathroom or latrine, a nautical term from the days of sailing ships when the designated place to relieve ones bladder or bowels was forward, at the bow or “head” of the ship. (From their site .)
Ours is often kept on the deck and I just go when I need. If the weather is a little extra windy (a good thing when sailing but not for keeping things above deck) they move the pup head indoors next to their own toilet. I just ask to go and Dad makes sure not to tilt the boat while I do my business. It works perfectly.
4. Food and Water: I have already talked about water. I have my little rubber bowl and share the biped’s water supply. As for food – I eat whatever the bipeds are having. We usually barbeque something tasty to eat. It’s such fun since our condo does not allow a BBQ for security reasons on the balconies. I do have a small bag of treats onboard and a toy, but I am far more interested in being in the biped’s arms or sleeping in my sling – with or without cooling pad.
In review: Sailing with a dog has been going on for centuries. From rat chasing working dogs to large hunting beasts and small leisure pets keeping the ladies company… dogs and boats of all sorts have a shared history. Now … if only the cruise lines would remember this noble past. *sigh*