I love living on my boat with my dog. Except when I don’t. Here are 9 reasons you should not live on a boat with your dog.
Dog Hair Everywhere
You think your house is covered in dog hair? Just try living with a shedding dog in a tiny space when you can only run a vacuum cleaner at the dock.
I swear I once brought the dipstick up out of the oil crankcase on our diesel engine with a Honey hair on the end of it. We routinely clean matted hair out of the cockpit drains. If we miss a day, we could sink the boat.
And while it’s not life threatening, you don’t want to know what it’s like to varnish your bright work with a dog on board. Brush on the varnish, pick out the dog hair. Brush on the varnish, pick out the dog hair. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Nail Scratches On The Cabin Sole
If you live on a boat, especially a classic boat like ours, you feel a lot of pressure to keep it looking pretty. Good luck with that when you have a dog on board.
You know the classic teak and holly sole (floor) on a boat? Well it only looks beautiful before the dog scratches it up with her toe nails.
Ours still looks fairly pretty—I think. I wouldn’t know. It’s hidden under a ratty old carpet which is covered in dog hair.
But at least the next owners will be able to enjoy it.
Walking The Dog In Bad Weather (At Anchor)
Walking the dog is never fun in driving rain and lightning. But add in wind opposing current which makes the dinghy go up while the boat is going down and you’re in for an adventure.
And that’s before spending the night in a tiny space with a wet dog.
Getting Rid Of Poop
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to get rid of dog poop. But what’s the best way to get rid of dog poop when you’re anchoring?
I brought a trowel with me when I moved onto the boat. I thought our best option would be “leave no trace” poop disposal. Of course I forgot that I would never be more than a few feet away from a waterway. So much for that smart idea.
So unless we’re anchored in a populated area with trash cans, the poop comes back to the boat for storage until we can get rid of it.
BTW, here’s a tip for captains—don’t let the filled poop bag get wet in the floor of the dinghy. You don’t want to know what the dog poop smells like after 3 days in your propane locker.
And what no boat captain said ever, “The only thing this boat is missing is a big pile of $hit.”
Strength Training With Live Weights
How do I know if Honey has gained an ounce or two? By how tired I get lifting her into the cockpit.
A timid, klutzy dog combined with a steep companionway ladder equals a dog mama with bulging biceps.
Of course what might be worse…
Chasing An Agile Dog That Ladders Don’t Stop
How do you keep your dog safe if she’s agile enough to climb a ladder? You pray. A lot.
Once your dog starts climbing the stairs to get out of the boat they’re only a few days away from learning how to start the dinghy motor.
I’m glad Honey is neither graceful nor motivated enough to leave the cabin by herself. Because once she learned to start the dinghy, we’d never see her again until she had visited every boat in the anchorage.
Having A Bed Warmer (In The Summer)
You might think it’s cute that Honey likes to cuddle. Heck, when we’re traveling in the open cockpit on a 22° F day, it’s not just cute, it’s life saving.
But when the v-berth is 92°F because you bought a charming, classic boat without air conditioning? Yeah, the cuddling gets old fast.
Dog Overboard Drills That Aren’t Drills
Every cruiser is wise to practice crew overboard drills. Because getting someone back on board after they’ve fallen is harder than convincing a cruiser their anchor isn’t the best.
But if you live on a boat with a playful pup visited by equally playful dolphins, you’d better practice how you’re going to get your dog back on board.
New Knowledge Of Everywhere That Is NOT Pet-Friendly
There’s nothing like arriving in a new town on a day too hot to leave the dog on board alone just to find no pet-friendly settings. Yep, the tacky restaurant where you just know the chef never washes his hands in the bathroom has decided that your freshly bathed pup is too dirty to allow on their concrete patio.
I hate to tell him, but I’d rather eat a meal prepared by my dog than take my chances with e Coli Ernie.
Of course there are plenty of reasons besides these 9 to not live on a boat with your dog. But there’s always
One Big Reason To Move Onto A Boat With Your Dog
Sometimes, no matter how stupid it looks on paper, it’s worth it to forget all the excellent reasons not to move onto a boat with your dog and respond to the one good one to do it anyway.
What could it be?
Dogs and humans are made to explore together. After all, what could be better than traveling everywhere with your best friend?
Your Turn: Would any of the 9 reasons (or all of them) be a deal breaker for you moving onto a boat with your dog?