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Life on the water: Cruising with a small dog (and a tortoise)

This is a guest post from Lindy O’Malley, who I met when she posted a picture of her husband kayaking with Max, their Papillon, on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page. Earlier this year, she and her husband quit their jobs and began a new life of full-time cruising. She writes a delightful blog called Sea Mist Cruise, packed with pictures, about their travels. My apologies to Lindy: The post she sent looked beautiful — transferring it to WordPress altered her formatting for the worse, I’m afraid.

We are a family of four (two human, one tortoise and a Papillon) living full-time on our 42 foot power boat. Max the Papillon has lived on the boat since he was 10 weeks old and has proven to be the perfect “boat dog” for us.  He has never been sea sick or frightened by rough seas.  He has a regular doggie door to allow him access to the outdoor deck areas of the boat when he chooses.

His potty area is on the bow of the boat and consists of an elevated artificial turf that can be scooped and hosed down as needed.

We recently returned to the Puget Sound area following a three month, 1600 mile cruise in British Columbia. I am pleased to report that everywhere we docked or took the dinghy to shore in Canada we found dog friendly environments. Everywhere we went there were dog areas, biodegradable doggie bag dispensers, water bowls outside of most shops, shopkeepers with treats for visiting dogs and lots of friendly smiles.

Shawl Bay Marina in Simoom Sound even had a real turf yard on a floating barge called the K-9 Yacht Club.

Refuge Cove in central Desolation Sound has a designated pet path behind the general store for visiting boat dogs needing to stretch their legs.  Since trash disposal is a major concern on many of the smaller islands, rather than plastic dog bags, smaller marinas like Refuge Cove supply pet owners with a handy shovel and compost area for taking care of their dog’s waste.

Max enjoys watching porpoises playing in the bow wake of the boat while we are underway,  but Orcas seem to frighten him and he wants to be held when they are near the boat.  It could be the high pitched vocalizations that we hear them making.

Putting on a life jacket has always been part of the routine to prepare Max for leaving the boat by dinghy or kayak. He is a good swimmer but the water temperatures where we cruise are cold, 45 to 70 degrees.  If he gets excited and jumps in the water or were to fall in the life jacket has a handle which allows us to easily retrieve him from the water.

Kayaking usually involves stopping and exploring the shoreline. During these stops we are always vigilant about keeping Max close by for safety reasons.

Anywhere you boat in the Pacific North West you will be in the midst of hungry Bald Eagles and farther north, black bears.  We heard first hand of a small terrier being taken right off the dock by an Eagle in Port McNeill while its owners looked on in horror.