Boat dogs make great crew. I’m surprised every boat doesn’t have one.
Yeah, I know. I’ve given you nine reasons not to live on a boat with a dog. But how much do you want to bet I can come up with more reasons you should?
11 Reasons You Need A Boat Dog
A boat needs a dog like a fish needs a bicycle–if it’s a bicycle-riding fish who works for a fish bicycle circus.
Here’s why you need a dog on your boat. If you have a dog as crew, she will:
Keep You Warm
Yeah, I know. We’re dumb to still be in the Carolinas in January. But working on board means we travel S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Fortunately, when overnight temps drop to freezing, our boat dog Honey does her job keeping us warm. Luckily, we don’t usually have three dog nights in South Carolina or we’d have to get a bigger boat.
Keep You Cool
Okay, I become a big ball of sweat sleeping next to Honey in the summer. But in the cockpit? That floofie tail of hers makes a great fan.
Keep Stuff From Going Overboard
The crew of Meander is old school. Which means we use paper charts to navigate, not some new-fangled electronic chart plotter.
The downside of paper charts is that the wind can pick them up and send them flying into the drink.
That is, if you don’t have a boat dog weighing them down.
Give You A Routine
I believe passionately that the best adventurers are those who are boring.
On board, routines keep you safe, comfortable, and stress-free. Like checking the weather frequently. Maintaining your engine. And cleaning up the boat to keep things from flying underway.
Who is better at teaching you to stick to your routines than a boat dog who barks when he wants his dinner? Or who insists on getting a potty break at the same time every day?
Wash Your Deck Down
Yep, pee beats pluff.
What is pluff? It’s a cute name for a deadly form of mud.
The waterways surrounding the sea islands of South Carolina are known for pluff--a thick, black mud that can trap the person stupid enough to stand
on in it.
The last time we were in Beaufort, South Carolina, we heard the tale of a man who walked into the mud flats to get his wandering dog. With the tide coming in and the two stuck fast, they were saved when a girl heard the man yelling. The fire rescue had to build a bridge of plywood planks to get out to the man and his dog to pull them out of the mud ahead of the rising water.
Can you imagine what it does to your boat when you bring it up on your anchor? Yep, it’s a holy mess.
But a boat dog who pees on the bow? Well, it’s the perfect way to keep the pluff from clogging your scuppers.
Sadly, our Honey won’t oblige. So we’re stuck bringing salt water up in a bucket to wash the deck down. Darn you, Honey.
And speaking of things our boat dog doesn’t do for us…
Keep You Safe
I’ve heard there are dogs who actually bark if someone tries to board their boat.
I recently read about a couple anchored in the Caribbean who awoke to bright lights and voices as someone tried to board their boat. Luckily, their dog arrived on deck first and scared the intruders away.
We’ve learned not to be too attached to our belongings. Because if someone wanted to steal something from us, Honey would offer them her favorite bear and invite them in for a snack.
But Honey is very good at the next benefit of having a boat dog.
Help You Make Friends
“Oh, it’s Honey!”
It’s a good thing I’m not jealous. Because no one sounds that excited when they see me.
But Honey has a whole crew of friends everywhere she goes.
Living on a boat can be isolating. You meet people. You enjoy spending time with them. And then you move on.
But it’s easy to make friends everywhere we go with Honey. If we return to land life, Honey’s dream is to become a Walmart greeter.
We don’t have a television on board. We went out of our way to see Bohemian Rhapsody in Hampton, Virginia. But it was the first time we had been to a movie in years.
Luckily, Honey is very entertaining.
From the G-rated (chasing her stick) to the X-rated (humping her bear), Honey provides entertainment options to satisfy the most diverse crew.
Your boat dog might not have Honey’s range. But I’ll guarantee you he’s great entertainment just the same.
Rinse Your Dishes
Our boat tanks hold 80 gallons of water which we use for bathing and cleaning. If you remember that the average American shower uses 17 gallons (65 liters) of water, you realize that isn’t much.
We simply can’t run water over our dishes for five minutes to get stubborn food off. At least not if we don’t want to refill our tanks every other day.
Boat dog to the rescue! Honey is happy to serve as a pre-rinse on all our dishes.
BTW, if the idea grosses you out, you might want to bring your own dishes if you visit Meander. Or at least take us out to dinner.
Make You Explore
We were just setting off in our dinghy when two recreational tugs arrived in our anchorage.
While taking Honey off to the Buck Hall Recreation Area of the Francis Marion National Forest, we saw a lone male dolphin and later, a pod of female and baby dolphins hunting for dinner. On landing, we enjoyed a nice walk.
The next day Mike met a couple traveling by camper van while Honey played with their golden retriever.
The people in the two tugs? They stayed on board. I hope they enjoyed the beautiful anchorage. But you miss a lot when you never leave your boat.
Thank goodness for boat dogs who at least need to stretch their legs.
Add To Your Senses
If our dogs could talk, they’d probably tell us how sorry they feel for us. We have a pitiful sense of smell.
I’m pretty alert. I don’t miss much. But I also rely on Honey to notice things for me.
Honey will hear or smell a dolphin before I do. When we’re walking in a park and she’s sniffing frantically, I know to look for wild animals nearby.
I watch Honey carefully. If she’s alert, I know I should be too.
I’d choose a boat dog over a human crew member distracted by his phone any day.
Boat Life Is Better With A Boat Dog
Yeah, I’m biased.
But having Honey on board makes everything better. She’s worth the work. She’s worth the trouble.
She’s not only part of the family. She’s a valued member of our crew.
And speaking of helpful dogs…
Dogs Who Help Children
When human and non-human animals form relationships, something special happens. When the humans are children, the result is magic.
Links below may be affiliate links.
At least that’s what I discovered reading Peggy Frezon’s new book, The Dog in the Dentist Chair and Other True Stories About Animals Who Help, Comfort, and Love Kids.
Written for kids but also encouraging for adults, The Dog in the Dentist Chair shares stories about therapy and assistance animals that will warm your heart. And the animals that help children in the book are not just dogs but also cats, rabbits, pigs, doves, and even a camel.
If you find yourself yearning for a supportive voice for children, a Mr. Rogers for the modern era, you need to check out Peggy’s book. As a mom and grandmother, Peggy hones in on the way animals can help children know that they are okay, just the way they are.
And isn’t that a message we all need sometimes? It’s why we love the animals in our lives. It’s the message they share with us every day.
The Dog in the Dentist Chair is available now at Amazon as well as at Paraclete Press. And please note that while Paraclete Press calls itself a Christian publisher, this book’s message of love and acceptance will encourage people of any faith. Or none.
At least as long as they’re not made of stone.