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Old 05-01-2012
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Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

So it's rather looking like we are about to be furparents again, we've decided to get a puppy. Did we pick something suitable for a 24' sailboat? Well, ummm, no would be the quick answer. We're getting an Alaskan husky, which is likely to grow up to be rather large.
Any good suggestions on getting a large dog on and off a boat that doesn't have a nice walk-through transom, or a big comfy swim grid, or even fixed steps? I think for the first month or so I can probably just lift it, but they grow up quick. Intention is to have the pup quite used to being on a boat.
I guess the best suggestion is to not get the dog (not an option), or to trade up to a bigger boat with walk-through transom, nice ladder or a swim-grid (also not an option unless someone wants to donate it to me).
Oh and it's a slatted floor inflatable dinghy too, just to make things more awkward
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Step 1: Make sure there's no alligators nearby.
Step 2: Remember whether or not dog is afraid of dolphins.

Been there done that
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Congrats on the new bundle of fur, Paul!

What's your freeboard? If it's not too high, the dog may be able to manage it on its own. Our Cocker managed to evade supervision a few times and took the 5' leap from caprail to dinghy -- we were astounded (and worried) the first time, annoyed after that. We keep her in a doggie PFD equipped with a lifting handle mid back that made it a snap for us to move her up and down, but then again a Husky isn't gonna be as easy as a 25 lb spaniel.

A block and tackle set-up from your boom or davits (if equipped) may be worth a thought or two.
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Quote:
Step 1: Make sure there's no alligators nearby.
Step 2: Remember whether or not dog is afraid of dolphins.
1 - check, not many of them round here as far as I know, water is a bit cold for them.
2 - guess we cross that bridge when we get there.

Freeboard is probably a couple of feet, but a soft dinghy isn't the ideal leaping platform. Getting down to it probably isn't a big deal (although I may have to fit a solid floor). No davits, boom lift is a possibility, I can detach the vang quickly and easily and use that. I thought perhaps a slightly longer boarding ladder at an angle, with the gaps between the steps boarded over to make a plank. Although a plank would probably do the job with less cost and effort
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Hi Paul,
We sail with our dog; She is ~30lbs and stands 17" at the whithers so she is smaller than your Husky will be. Our Contessa 26 is likely comparable with freeboard and we don't even have a stern that can be used for boarding - let alone a walk through.

Our dog has no issue jumping down into the soft dinghy and hopping up she *can* do without assistance but we usually assist for a calmer entry. The key is to train them to not jump in or out until you are ready... As you suspect, leaping from the dinghy while it is not secured to the mother ship results in a surprised wet pooch! (From experience)

Our system...
1. Our lifelines are gates and we remove them for entry and departure so there is nothing to trip on or get the leash caught around.
2. We have a secured swim ladder on the port quarter. This is mainly for me and safety, but our dog did figure out how to climb it somewhat..
3. We inflate the dinghy and slip it out of the cockpit. I enter the dinghy before our dog is allowed to join me. That way, I can hold the dinghy to the port side of the boat while she jumps down and we don't go shooting away from the boat.
4. Upon return, we pull up abreast the port side and I hold the vessels close together or secure them with line. My wife climbs onboard and then we let the dog up. Sometimes the dog jumps from the seat, other times we assist from below to give her a small boost and she does the rest.
5. Often we'll have her wear her life jacket... she swims for hours a day, so we're not concerned with swimming ability, but, if she DOES fall in, we can lift her up by the handles without getting wet ourselves. Her nickname is "Suitcase dog". That may be more difficult with the husky but perhaps a good idea none the less.

I wouldn't worry too much about the dinghy issue and spend more time focussing on the other ones.
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Thanks Jordan! Dog will be float-enabled whenever out of the cabin I think, and one with lifting handles is a definite.
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

yeah, we found the floatation portion is fairly useless but the handles are indispensable and colour, I suspect, will be helpful should we need to find her in waves. Next time, I may just buy or make a hunter's orange harness with handles which will be cooler for the dog and just as useful.
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Old 05-01-2012
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Our 80 lb. mutt jumps from the boat to the dinghy (HP floor inflatable = soft landing) with no problems and he's 10-12? yrs old. Getting into the boat he requires some assistance from me so we have him trained (sort of) to wait until we say "Go", he has his front paws on the cap rail then I lift with one arm behind his rear legs while holding onto a stantion with the other to keep the dink close to the boat. He's only fallen in a couple of times, but I think he just wanted to go swimming:-))
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Well, we're hopefully picking it up (I say "it", as at the moment we have a choice of 5 and should be meeting them properly this weekend to see who chooses us) in a few weeks, and it'll be 8 weeks old so will be a boat dog from an early age. The idea is that it gets used to things quickly, and should be pretty trainable.
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Old 05-02-2012
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Re: Suggestions for getting a dog from boat to dinghy (and back again!)

Best of luck. Remember, you can never have too many photos.

Also, remember, he'll be just a babies so go slow and don't get frustrated if he doesn't "get sailing" as fast as you hope... Probably will be learning not to poop on the poop deck for a little while yet.
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