How To Keep The Dog Happy When Your House Disappears

Let’s face it. Dogs are creatures of habit. They love their homes.

But how do you keep the dog happy when your house disappears?

Honey the boat dog waits for Meander to be lifted into the slings.

Uh oh. Something is up. And I’m afraid it’s going to be my house.

Ahhh, Glamorous Boat Life

When we’re sitting in the cockpit at a marina, strangers come by to say hello to our dog Honey or just to admire the boat.

They often say things like, “Oh, you’re living the dream.” Or “Must be nice.”

But they don’t see us scrambling to get everything off the boat we’ll need before hauling it out for a day’s work.

They definitely don’t see us sitting in the laundry room surrounded by all our stuff. And they have no idea how difficult it is  to keep a dog happy in the winter when you don’t have a car or a house.

Honey the boat dog waits in the laundry room while the boat is being blocked.

Is this my new home?

What Happened To Your Boat?

I can hear you now. Pam, what happened to your boat? Why aren’t you hanging out in sunny Florida by now?

Messy cabin during electrical project.

Just to give you a little taste of boat life–this is how the cabin looks when we do a small electrical project. Everything in the way of the work gets shoved into the salon and our berth. Honey’s hiding under the table.

Well, we got a late start traveling south.

First we worked to set up and tear down the Annapolis Boat Shows. That (along with bad weather and installing a solar panel) kept us in Maryland until late October.

Then we meandered down the Chesapeake Bay and anchored in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia before landing for a week at the Hampton Public Piers.

You see, my husband Mike had to attend an annual architectural convention to get the continuing education he needs to keep his license and continue working. Honey and I picked a marina very close to a park so we wouldn’t have to dinghy ourselves to shore several times a day in the cold.

Of course, during all this meandering we discovered a severe vibration in the engine. We decided it was important to check it out before heading further so we landed on the dock at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, Virginia.

The boat yard closed through Thanksgiving weekend. So that’s how we’re getting the boat hauled out of the water for work in late November.

And it’s why we’re hunkered down in a laundry room doing our work because we have to stay off the boat.

Honey the boat dog naps in the laundry room.

Good thing I can nap anywhere. Because this towel is not very soft compared to my normal bed.

Keeping The Dog Happy Off The Boat

Honey has very adaptable energy levels. It makes her an excellent boat dog.

When the weather is bad and we can’t easily dinghy to shore, Honey is content relaxing on board.

If we take her on an eight mile walk to and from the beach or to the grocery store, she never tires. She’ll even have enough spunk at the end to play a brief game of chase with one of the dock dogs we meet.

But to keep Honey happy off the boat, we have to bring along everything she needs.

Today, I packed water and a collapsible bowl as well as her food for this evening. She has a ball and a ring for a game of fetch.

I have brought a towel that she can lie on while we’re hanging out.

Of course I forgot her treats, my treat pouch, and a Nylabone.

We couldn’t get back on the boat to make lunch so we had to find a restaurant nearby with outdoor, pet-friendly seating.

Honey the golden retriever eats lunch at Dairy Queen.

C’mon, I’m posing so pretty. Can’t you share some of that sundae with me?

Damn, having a dog on board is a lot of work. No wonder we meet so many dog lovers on boats who don’t have dogs.

Honey Is Going To Fly

We just got the word from the technician that our boat will be blocked up on land until repairs are complete.

Mike and I will use a ladder to get up and down. Honey will have to wear her mountaineering harness and we’ll use our block and tackle to get her on board tonight.

Honey the boat dog waits under Meander to be lifted on board.

Why do I have a feeling I’m not going to enjoy the next part very much?

She’s used to it. This is how we get her in and out of the dinghy.

But tonight, we’ll be lifting her 12 feet in the air instead of 4 or 5.

I sure hope there will be someone around the boatyard tonight who can take a picture for us.

Honey the boat dog gets ready to be lowered from Meander.

“She flies through the air with the greatest of ease, Honey the dog on her flying trapeze…” At least I hope that’s what I’ll be singing.

Realities of Boat Life

I love living on the boat.

I enjoy working from my home, traveling new places, and meeting interesting people everywhere we go.

And Honey really likes having all of her family just a few steps away most of the time.

It’s a great life. But it’s definitely harder than living in a house on land with a car.

And when it’s 44° F outside, and you’re sitting on a hard chair in the laundry room trying to work with your dog lying on a towel at your feet, it feels just a bit harder.

But I still wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Honey the golden retriever on the dock.

A sunny day and a warm dock. Now all I need is someone to give me lovies.

Your Turn: If you need to keep the dog out of the house for a while (contractors working, house being shown for sale, etc.) what do you do? What would you do if you didn’t have a car?









  1. I love reading about your meanderings but I can’t imagine us living a lifestyle where ‘dinghy’ is a verb. I am happy for you that it is everything you hoped for.

    • Ha ha! Yep, I’m guilty of helping to invent words that probably shouldn’t be invented.

      But you have serious word power–what do you like better? Motoring?

  2. You are one brave soul. Mom can’t even imagine living in an RV, let alone a boat. We can’t imagine life without a car either. Some of the conveniences we just don’t want to give up. Hope your boat is fixed quickly and you can sail on to warmer places.

    • As we often say, if it was easy everyone would want to do it. 🙂

      Luckily the world is big enough for all kinds of people to live different ways.

      We hope to eventually do the Great Loop which would take us into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. And don’t you sometimes visit Florida? If we ever find ourselves near you, I hope you’d consider visiting.

      You may not want to live on a boat. But even people who don’t like boats enjoy sitting in the cockpit, drinking wine, and watching the sunset. 🙂

      • You are planning on coming to the Great Lakes??? How exciting!! When? It would definitely cool to get together. (We are in MI)

        I can not begin to understand the life you live on the boat. lol A non-floating house with 4 dogs and 2 cats is hard enough!! Hopefully you’ll be fixed up in no time and on your way soon!

        • If we go West, I’ll definitely make a big announcement. It would bring me so much closer to tons of people I’d like to meet IRL.

          And thanks for the good wishes. Hope to splash soon.

  3. I have no idea what I would do. In my last job I could bring the dogs with me, but I’m not so sure at this job. And with no car, and Sampson’s bad legs, I can’t see us walking very far. I guess I’d have to ask a neighbor.

    As an aside, I wish I were closer so I could take Honey for the day. Oh, and so I could provide you with a warm place to work. 🙂

    • OMD, if Honey and I were camping out at Chez Sampson and Delilah, we’d never get anything done. 🙂

      I wish we lived in a world where you could take a polite pup out in public places. Honey would do fine in a library, for instance.

      Luckily it is warming up outside so I’m going to take my work out to the Adirondack chairs and work in front of the canal.

  4. When my roof and kitchen were being done – Blueberry and I did a LOT of hiking. I would pack a lunch for me and snacks for Blueberry and we’d leave the house. We would hike, then rest in the car. Thankfully, this is Arizona, and the work was done around November – so the weather was perfect – not too cold, not too hot. Blueberry was pretty easy going and was fine napping in the car while I would read a book when we were both too tired to hike anymore. We hung out at two different areas.

    If I didn’t have a car I’m not sure what we would have done. I probably would have either borrowed or rented a car so we could get away from the house.

    • Getting out of the house for contractors sounds both inconvenient and a lot of fun. How clever of you to plan the work for good weather.

      And yeah, I hate cars. But having them as extra landing space is really helpful

  5. Without a car and family I don’t know what we’d do! When we were showing our house, we’d all go for a drive, and if it was going to be an extra long time, we’d go over my sister’s house and hang out there.
    I don’t think I could live the life you do (nor could my dogs, not Luke anyway) but I’m so happy that you accept the inconveniences and find a way to get through the tougher times!

    • Oh, selling a house is the worst. Because you also have to leave the house immaculate.

      Twice we sold homes without owning a car. I remember walking our dogs forever.

      Once, after being out of the house for over an hour, I found a real estate agent and his clients using my living room to have a meeting (not about our house). I was furious!

  6. So far, we haven’t had to leave the RV. I can’t even imagine what all we would have to pack though. I’m sorry you are in the repair vortex again though, ugh.

    • I have a little luggage cart with a big bag on top. If I wasn’t in a boatyard, I would definitely be seen as a homeless person.

  7. If there were contractors around, they’d better like snoopervisors. Good luck with your repairs. I cannot even begin to fathom the efforts you go through to handle simple household fixes. Gold star for you guys! 🌟

    • That’s Honey. She eventually settles down. But she loves flirting with contractors on the boat.

      There’s a diesel tech here who worked on the boat last year. Every time he sees her, he comes over to say hello to her. It’s mutual love.

    • Mike Webster says:

      Are those gold stars by any chance convertible to cash? We have a repair bill coming. . .

  8. Wow – the adventures continue for you! I am trying to imagine hoisting Tavish 12 feet in the air, but I’m pretty sure he would not handle any of this with Honey’s good grace.

  9. If it were just for one day, and it was a nice, comfortable, sunny day, the dogs and I would just spend the day at the ball field across the road. Otherwise I have no idea. We’d have to come up with something.

    • I feel so thankful it’s warm here in the afternoons. Yesterday I took Honey for several long walks in the sunshine.

      But it’s tough having to get my work done. So I’m back in the laundry room until it warms up a bit.

      When we were selling our houses and I didn’t have a car, it rained every time we had a showing. Or at least it felt that way. I remember huddling under a bus shelter with Honey in the pouring rain. And walking Agatha and Christie around and around the neighborhood in a thunderstorm. Ugh.

      The day our country starts allowing well-behaved dogs inside select public places is the day I jump for joy.

  10. That sounds super hard (the part when you can’t be in the boat). I’m glad that Honey is adaptable. I’m just imagining trying to do that with Shyla, while navigating all her fears. And the part about being hoisted into the boat – not happening.

    I did have a search and rescue dog years ago. She was great at wearing a mountaineering harness and being hoisted places. And, she could handle almost anything that life threw at her. She would have been a good boat dog! But no dog is as good as Honey and her parnets at the boat life!

    I hope that you get that photo!

    • Because we have had Honey since she was a puppy and worked hard at her socialization, she is definitely not a fearful dog. But she has a timid nature.

      I’m continually amazed that she does things that would have terrified her a few years ago. As, I’m sure, you are continually amazed by how far Shyla has come. 🙂

  11. We don’t have a plan. We’ve only done work in our house once and we were able to block off the room from the dogs. Otherwise, I have no CLUE what we’d do. Our dogs don’t go to doggy daycare or a kennel. Mostly, we just put them in their yard, but that’s for a few hours or a full day. We plan to do a bigger project next year (or the year after) and I’m concerned about the dust in the house it’ll create (we’re expanding a room). Definitely a good idea to have a plan when that project starts. Or maybe I’ll just postpone it a little longer. We don’t NEED a man cave, dammit!!!