So… I find it only fitting that we talk a little more about what it’s like to travel with the Jetpack, our fifty-pound, four-legged, K-9 crew member. The “hairy son” as he’s affectionately known. The Ambassador.
We write about the wind
And stress about the weather
About the land and sea and which one
Suits us better
Wax poetic about “the boat”
And glorify these things that float
But this weeks post within our blog
Is all. About. A mutt
A pet… The Jet
It’s dogs on board and bombs away
As out to sea the yardarms blur
We battle fast the spit and fur
But all is right
Tonight…As we float
We just couldn’t imagine life
Without a mutt
Our pet… The Jet
Aboard the boat.
Jet is a pretty cool customer but when we decided to live aboard full-time, we had serious reservations about how having a dog on board would affect the whole process. We love our dog and the thought of getting rid of him to do this was never an option. Knowing that, the thought of him flipping out and turning into a total destructo-dog was also not an option. How would he adapt? How would he get in and out of the cabin. We have a five-foot ladder that he has to go up and down every morning, night and a few other times during the day.
When we first boarded the boat and had him below, he surprised us completely by climbing up the ladder! When we have guests in the cockpit and leave him below… he’s not too happy. If you don’t put the hatch boards in… He makes his discomfort known and simply climbs up. You’ll see in the video but we don’t let him do this anymore… the last thing we want is a pup who hurts himself. That said, I’m working on a prototype, dog-friendly ladder… stay tuned!
In our online searches, there are tons of ladders and dog accoutrements for boarding the boat or the dock from the water and ramps for getting in and out of trucks. But none that really work in the “real-world” environment of most boat cabins. There are bloggers who write about taking their dogs ashore in the dinghy and what have you but as you know with boats… every, single one is different. I think the same is true with dogs on boats too. I will say, we are spoiled. Jet is a pretty low-maintenance dog. He has always traveled well whenever we’ve done long road trips or stayed in dog friendly hotels. I mean the staff at the hotels were usually less well behaved than my dog. But that’s another topic altogether.
Now let me first say, we’re without a dinghy as it got destroyed so we are in marinas for the time being. Inexpensive marinas. Nothing will end an ‘adventure’ like an empty bank account. That said, we have it pretty easy. We get up in the morning and lift him up and out into the cockpit. we call that our morning workout. We go for a long walk, he does his business and we head back. We feed him in the cockpit and then he just chills and watches the world go by. On extremely hot days he stays below or somewhere with AC. There is a lounge / lenders library where we do a lot of our work and he hangs there with us. Most marinas are really dog friendly and that’s a good thing. We take breaks to go check the mail and mingle with the other dogs and around dinner time, we add a little coconut oil to his food and he eats in the cockpit as we start our dinner. The evening routine is pretty much the same. Around 10 PM or so, we lift him out, take our evening stroll and then lift him back down. (see: evening workout).
We clean constantly but so what, the boat is small and we’d clean anyway. The dog hair is not as bad a problem as we originally thought. We purchased a fantastic little pet vacuum by Bissell called the Pet Hair Eraser and it is phenomenal. My only complaint and it’s a big one, is that you can’t buy the Hepa filters ANYWHERE in person, you have to get them online. Cmon’ Bissell people… Shame on you. Great product. Nice execution. Crummy follow through. Now the only real drag is rain. Doing this in the rain can be a pain but hey… when you consider that we live on our boat, in a great marina, with great people in a beautiful place? I’ll deal with a little rain and a wet dog. Keeping the hair out of the bilge is priority one. Hair in the bilge = hair in the bilge pumps and that aint good.
So… you see, everyone has their cross to bear and ours, if we can even call it that, is a fifty-pound, Belgian Malinois and Blue Heeler mix. Ya see, “cross to bear” is one of those by-gone expressions that I’ve been waiting to use. Literary license is a power drug. And Jet’s not immune. No, he now has his own little K-9 cross to bear. When we’re out, at sea or moving for long days in between anchorages, there is the issue of relieving one’s self. We have a head. He has nothing. No grass, tree or hydrant. He’s become used to the life-jacket but we just introduced him to the “fake grass-please poop and pee here” pad. Now we’ll really see how adaptable he is. I guess we’ll see how adaptable we are, too! Stay tuned this is gonna get interesting. Have a great one friends!
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Hey guy’s , that was great. He’ll probly only use the pad if you turn the other way. thinkin about you, chip
I miss my Jet!!! And you and Mel sometimes, too. ;)
Thanks Chip and Amanda! Love it that you check in… Chip… He definitely needs his “private space”. Amanda… Jet told me he loves your blog… he did say you should feature more stories about dogs… but he always says that.
Lyn Lewis says
I think it is amazing that he turns sideways & sits in order for Mel to pick him up. Very smart dog. How long did it take you to train him to do it that way?
Lyn, it really didn’t take long at all. He almost did it right away! He’s a quick learner!
That is one smart puppy…but you already knew that! I look forward to some Jet love every weekend. xoxo
Angie Farmakakis says
Awe, Jet is so cool! So glad he has adjusted so well! Looks like you are all happy and really enjoying your adventure!!
Jake DiMare says
Great story. In the list of really big question marks I have about my eventual transition to life aboard is: What about the cats? (I’m actually a dog and a cat person…I just happen to have cats now)
I always enjoy stories about how other folk’s and the pets they love are adapting.
Hi Jake! Thanks so much for following along and for checking in! We love getting questions and comments from everyone.
Cats are fine too. I have a dear friend who travels with two exotic cats on her boat Aries Too and they actually use the potty!
I’ve heard of several people training them to use the head on the boat. They put the litter box on top of a small stack of news papers or books and then gradually add books or papers to increase the height of the litter box. Ultimately it gets to the height of the head at which point they place the litter box over the toilet, etc… and bam… potty trained kitty… not litter to knock over at sea! Keep in touch Jake. Let us know where you end up and how the transition is going.
Hey Jake! I wanted to comment on this as well. Like Chris said, we’ve heard of a lot of people cruising with their cats (gives a whole new meaning to the term “cruising kitty”)! I think in some ways, cats might actually be easier (making sure Jet isn’t peering over my shoulder). They are a bit more graceful than dogs, can climb things easily and can hole themselves away in nooks and crannies while sailing, and if your cat doesn’t shed, that’s a definite plus! The thing I’ve learned about dogs, and I would imagine it would apply to any loyal, intelligent furry companion such as cats, is that they adapt as well as, or even better than we do. Gonna go check out your blog now. Love the cover shots at the top!
Jake DiMare says
Thanks! This evening is race night for the little R19 fleet in Boston this week…should be more new pictures soon.
Glad to see someone’s out there cruising with a dog. We got lucky with out choice of sailboat, it has 3 steps for the companionway that are easy for our 30 lb dog to navigate, but fur in the bilge is definitely a problem for us. Do you think having Jet aboard will affect where you’ll go?
Hey Christina! You know, fur in the bilge was one thing we’ve heard about but we’ve been super lucky to not have that problem. We do vacuum constantly though! Having him will definitely affect where we go to a degree, but we aren’t planning on crossing any big oceans quite yet, so we’re fine for awhile. We can take him to the Bahamas and we’re looking into the regulations in other places we’d like to go. What kind of sailboat and dog do you have?
Magnus is an Icelandic Sheepdog, similar to a Sheltie but friendlier and goofier. We spent a week aboard with him last summer and he was less scared than most of our guests. The boat’s a Hallberg-Rassy 34 up on the Canadian Great Lakes.
It’ll be a few years before the cruising kitty is ready to head south. From what I can gather, Magnus won’t stop us from going to many Caribbean islands but the fees could make us think twice.
Fur in the bilge has been manageable so far though it does creep in around the companionway steps and stick all over and under the engine. Just one more boat chore, I guess.
I LOVE that name, Magnus. He sounds cool! You have a great boat, too. Ahhh…one more boat chore. No matter how many chores you complete, there’s always one more, right? :) Happy Sailing!
Jessica, GR & Gia says
love the poem and the pooch! xox