Living aboard with a dog/bathroom needs
Just had a quick quesiton that some live aboards may be able to help me with. Next summer my husband and I are taking our Sabre 34 Targa out through the Great Lakes and down the east coast to the Bahamas. We'd like to take our dog, an 8 year old greyhound with us, but think we might come into issues with her bathroom needs. We'll probably be stopping 2 or 3 times a day when traveling to take her to shore for walks and bathroom breaks. Has anyone encountered this problem if there are no public areas around? What is the protocol if it's time to go and there are only private homes around?
I would appriciate any help and suggestions.
First, some of the passages you will be making are going to be long enough that you won't be able to stop and let the dog off the boat to relieve itself.
Second, many foreign countries have fairly draconian quarantine laws regarding dogs.
Third, even on the coastal or ICW passages, having to stop two or three times a day is going to be a real good way to make your trip four or five times as long as it would be otherwise. In many areas, there are going ashore isn't very simple. For instance, in Coinjock Bay, going ashore means a fairly long dinghy ride, since the water is fairly shallow outside of the dredged channel.
I would highly advise you either train your dog to go on a mat or piece of carpet on the boat, or you not take the dog.
First off, congrats on your decision to head off into the great unknown.
As background, we've completed the loop aboard our Vagabond 39 with both a dog and a cat aboard.
Traveling with pets can be a great comfort as well as a major challenge.
Looking back, here's what we'd recommend:
1. MOST IMPORTANT: Begin trying to train your dog to relieve herself topside on the decks -- we've got an agreed upon area at the foredeck. The sooner you start, the greater your chances for a breakthrough. This is likely to take some time, particularly with a headstrong animal. Simply wash the urine overboard, and bag the poop for your next shoreside garbage run.
2. You likely won't have any major challenges getting your dog ashore (assuming you have a dinghy) until you get to the mouth of the Hudson. From there (Sandy Hook) until you get to Cape May (Delaware River) you're likely looking at an outside/coastal trip of several days -- this will depend on how tall your rig may be, as there are a couple of low bridges along the inside passage of the Jersey shore. There are couple of places you can duck in for a night (Massaquan & Atlantic City), so a morning walk and an evening walk could be doable.
3. Once on the ICW, your options again open up. Staying at a marina would be easiest on the logistics of getting the pooch ashore. Anchoring is easier on the wallet, and selecting an anchorage close to a public boat ramp is the most convenient way to get ashore.
4. For planning purposes, it's useful to have a good cruising guide that includes info on pet shore access. We found Skipper Bob's guides to be hard to beat. I'd recommend "Anchorages along the ICW" as well as "Marinas along the ICW."
Hope this helps,
Skipper Bob's even has a little icon that shows which anchorages are "dog-friendly." Friends that we cruised with had an astroturf welcome mat with a grommet punched in one corner, and a string thru it. They trained their (20-lb) dog to go on the mat, then trailed it (the mat, not the dog, okay?) behind the boat after bagging the poop until it was washed clean. The little dog could go days without shore leave.
Oh, and by the way -- Welcome to Sailnet!
Just noticed you are in GR -- we were in Holland for a year during our Loop passage.
Oh, our hailing port is Northport, MI and I'm homesick!
A great solution to onboard dog potty needs:
Mine is tied to the foredeck .... next to the 'wash pump outlet'.
2. If your dog doesnt immediately take-to and use the 'patch', then, suggest you 're-train' the dog to "GO-ON COMMAND". Doesnt take all that much time to train:
Every time the dog 'just begins' to 'go' and as you perceive that the dogs 'sphincter' (either one) is 'just beginning to strain' .... you blurt out "GO PEE" and then congratulate the dog. Keep this up for several 'weeks' if necessary until you can command (when the dog becomes anxious to 'go') "GO-PEE" and the dog will instantly 'squat' and pee/poop. The result will be that the dog (when 'so loaded') will go instantly (or shortly thereafter) PEE/POOP **on command**. Then if the dog hasnt 'taken to' the patch "go pee" over the patch (in confined area to help 'aim the dog') .... until the dog regularly acknowleges the proper 'target'.
Such will save a lot of 'unnecessary' dinghy trips back and forth to shore.
Bahamas - populace generally doesnt like dogs and there are a few areas where 'fighting dogs' (Biminis, Nassau, Freeport) are common - so use your best judgement.
FYI - You need an import permit to bring a dog to the Bahamas which takes about a month to receive back the permit (go to Bahamian govt website for the form). You will also need a USA veterinary health certificate. Bahamas require that the Health Certificate was issued no more than 48 hours before arrival .... to solve this find a FLA vet who will leave the 'date' unsigned/blank ... most, not all, will do this. Let the Vet use YOUR pen when filling out the form, and use the same pen again just before your show up at Bahamian customs and immigration.
Sounds like a hassel with a larger dog. We too have greyhounds and I am not too sure any of them would feel at ease on a boat. They also do not tolerate heat very well for extended periods of time, and many greys die each year due to heat stroke in just 88 degree weather. I am not against it but as a owner of multiple greys I could see many issues arising.
We spent a few months this summer trying to teach her to go on the boat, and we're planning on having her be able to do so before we leave. We'll probably get a piece of astro-turf or something similar to place at the bow of the boat. Thanks for all the handy tips on getting her to use it, we'd just being telling her 'go potty' (a command which we think she understands) while up on the bow, but she's old and stubborn and would hold it until we took her to shore. We're planning on getting 'Skipper Bob's' which sounds really helpful. I know my husband has also read up on what we need to take her out of the country, we'll be taking her to a vet in Florida, but it's nice to know all the in's and out's from someone who's done it before.
I am planning on getting or making her some kind of bootie as I'm worried how she'll handle some streets and rocky beaches, but would probably be nice for her to have on the boat too. For the most part she's in the cockpit or sleeping below, so I'm not worried about her running around the deck in bad weather. And if all else fails my mother-in-law is more than happy to take her for us while we're away, but we'd like to share the experience with her if we can.
Thanks for all the info so far, I've learned a lot!
A lot of the 'beaches' in the Bahamas are eroded, sharp ancient coral beds; without 'booties' will absolutely tear the paw pads off dog. ditto in Georgia - 'razor clam' beaches.
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