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  #1  
Old 07-01-2010
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Dealing with a BIG dog...

Hi there,

My wife and I just welcomed a rather large new member to the family: Kayla, a 140-pound malamute-retriever cross. Kayla comes from an unfortunate background -- she was found chained up and starving with three broken ribs and a fractured jaw -- so we thought we'd take her in and give her a taste of the good life for the remainder of her days.

With summer cruising starting to get underway, I've been trying to figure out how to bring Kayla along with us on the boat (we leave next week for our first week-long trip). She's timid, understandably, but so far has been happy to join me down at the dock while I work on the boat, and I think I'll be able to get her on-board with a little convincing.

My problem is how to get her from the boat to the dinghy. We don't have one of those ledges on the transom, so for us it's a matter of stepping straight down the topsides (boarding ladder) and into the boat. There's no way Kayla will go for this, and lifting her 140-pound mass seems like a poor course of action.

Does anyone have any solutions for getting such a large dog into the dinghy (and back out?). Harness/halyard? Some kind of special ramp?

Thanks for your help!
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2010
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There are a number of different ramps available that might fit your pooch. Here's one: Portable Floating Water Ramps for Dogs | DoggyDocks™
Search "dog boat ladder" on Google.
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Old 07-01-2010
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We have to deal with him all the time around here...arrggg, often I just ignore him...oh wait, sorry I thought you were talking about "Sailingdog"

BTW, a friend just had a litter of 15 Mastiffs if anybody's interested PM me for her contact info.
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Old 07-01-2010
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Davits? Kidding aside, does she like to swim? I have a 140 Bernese Mountain Dog who doesn't like water will avoid even puddles at all costs. Be sure whatever you decide on that you try it well before leaving on a week long trip. The doggy ramp looks great, but you need to make certain your pooch doesn't freak in the dinghy -- that could be bad all around. Remember that whatever solution you have is going to need to be easy enough on you and your dog to do a couple times/day when you need to bring her ashore to um... do her business. How about getting a slip instead of anchoring or taking a mooring? easier on everybody. If it were me, I probably try a few single overnights before subjecting the dog and yourself to a full week.

My $.02 YMMV.
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Old 07-01-2010
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you might want to re-think the dog thing. 3 years aboard w/ a dog and I count the days.
Definately diminish's the "fun" factor. particularly on cold rainy days ,mornings ,evenings.
Of course landing on a oyster bank at low tide to walk a dog in the rain is a
nautical experience everyone should enjoy at least once.
'course that's just my experience.
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Old 07-01-2010
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First, let me say you are good people for taking that doggie into your home! We had a 110 golden retriever, who cruised with us for a year on our 34' Morgan. It was actually great fun, he was an outstanding dog, and we made many friends thru him (he was way more outgoing than we were!)

We anchored out almost exclusively -- the way WE did it was a joint effort- Billy (the dog) would get from the dinghy by placing his front paws up on the side of the boat and we would "boost" him up by his back legs. A little ungainly but doable with one person only. Getting into the dinghy was a little easier - he knew if he wanted to get to shore ( to pee or whatever) he needed the dinghy so he would jump in himself, at first with someone in the dinghy, but eventually he would leap in alone, with gusto.

It might take a little time, but I believe in the power of love. A dog on board is also great security!
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Old 07-01-2010
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It would help if you said what kind of boat and dinghy you have. That can make a big difference in what approaches will or won't work. I hope you have a hard dinghy, since a large dog can easily damage an inflatable.

A lot of the PFDs for dogs, and you will want one for Kayla, have hoisting handles on the back.

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Old 07-02-2010
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We used to have a 150 lb. Newfie/Golden mix. Unfortunately, he was relegated to the cockpit when aboard, because there was no way he was going to fit down our companionway into the cabin. I don't recall what we did to get him off the boat, but getting him back on we would lift his front end up to get his paws on deck, then boost his rear and shove. We really only sailed with him a couple of times before he died.

Currently, we have a 65 lb. flat-coat retriever. He jumps off the boat into the dinghy, and we can hoist him back up by the handle on the back of his life jacket. To get him down the companionway ladder, we made a slide out of old sailcloth, tied off at the compionway sill and then down by the sole at the forward end of the salon. Getting him back up out of the cabin we either haul him up by the handle on his life jacket, or give him a boost -- he doesn't climb ladders too well.

The best dog life jacket we've found is from Ruff Wear.
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Old 07-04-2010
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Of course ,overnight sails make walking the dog impossible. so you either don't walk the dog or do the clean up. in small living areas neither is pleasant.
Dogs and sailboats are not a very good match. unless you plan on only 8-10 hour day sails. which make an already slow trip longer and slower. When you do reach your destination the dog gets to be excluded from much as dogs are not welcomed everywhere. (beach,hotel,rest.bar,bus,etc.)
but if your into it, enjoy.
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Old 07-05-2010
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Thanks a lot for your advice, everyone -- and sorry about not responding until now (we took off on a last-minute trip for a few nights...without dog).

It seems like there are a few options, with no one sure-fire method of getting her in and out of the dinghy (which IS inflatable -- I'm considering cutting up an old sail cover to use to protect it from her claws) so I'm going to find a dog-sitter for this trip and experiment on a day sail to see what works, if anything. Morning walks in the rain don't concern me (in fact, I make a habit of them, with or without dog) and temperamentally I think she'll make a perfect boat dog (very mellow -- happy to lounge about so long as you're within sight) so it's just a matter of physics at this point.

We'll start with inshallahmiami's method and work our way up from there, with that doggydock thing as a last resort (though I'm not even sure it will work in this case all too well as our deck is about 4ft off the water).

Thanks again!

Ben
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