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Old 04-04-2008
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Living aboard with Dogs

I have lived aboard with dogs. We had 2 miniature Schnauzers that had spent most of their lives on a boat.

The goods:

They are great companions. We love dogs and are def dog people. It was always fun watching them run the shore or take them out in the dink. Our dogs really took to it and loved dink rides. To this day Scooter, the only one still living and at age 14, still prefers to ride in the dink over the main boat!!! No lie. We pulled him down the ICW a few times in the dink (In protected weather and life jacket, of course). I guess they provide some level of protection. I guarantee you no one would get on that boat without Myra (our other dog) knowing about it. Not sure either one would be able to stop an intruder, but sure would not get far without us knowing it.

THat is probabyl the end of the positives.

The negatives:

You really take the dog out there more for you than them. Although our dogs love it, I think they would probably be more happy running in some back yard somewhere. The exercise issue has been brought up. I guess I am not really that worried about it since we would often go to shore and let them run - which is probably more than 90% of dog owners do that stay inside (where all of our dogs have ever stayed... no outside dogs for us). None of our dogs have gotten motion sickness except for our current dog (an English Bulldog). We found that by keeping her stomach with food in it, we would reduce/eliminate that problem. The motion sickness goes away for her within a day or so and she is back to normal. Scooter could care less.

If it is just you and your boyfriend/husband and your aspirations are US cruising and marina liveaboard (that accepts dogs... you better ask), I would say you will be moderately happy. If you plan on living on the hook, doing cruising outside the US, cruising places inside the US with difficult shores (to potty the dog), or in a marina that does not allow dogs, you will be miserable. Dogs crapping and peeing in the cockpit is a grosse reality of what to expect (and hope it is in the cockpit). I found most of the other cruisers around us that lived aboard did not get out much and do much exploring becuase of dog issues (they have to crap somewhere). They mostly hung around the marina. That was no us... but many did.

Also, you need to get a small dog, or one that can make it up the companionway steps on their own. Hauling their fat butt up the steps gets old, really quick - as well as on/off the boat. Getting a dog that does not get sea sick is a crap shoot with ANY breed... period. I would not beleive anyone that tells you different. If you get one that gets sea sick and cannot recover, you will have to get rid of the dog, the boat, or the cruising aspirations.

In essnse, though we love dogs, doubtful they will go with us this time - esp the bulldog. We have family members that are fighting over who would get to keep her (luckily). Scooter won't make it much longer, so he is not an issue (unfortunately). Make sure you have a backup plan.

I would probably discourage taking dogs unless you are REALLY mentally set for it, and meet the criteria I have listed above.

- CD

PS All that being said, there are many people that LOVE and will ALWAYS have dogs on board. Even with the many negatives I have listed, we bought another. Do not listen to closely to the Nay-sayers - especially that have not lived abord or cruised with a dog. Only you know yourselves and how much crap (hehe) you are willing to deal with for a companion.
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