Let’s face it. Dogs are creatures of habit. They love their homes. But what if their home is a boat on the hard?
How do you keep the dog happy when your house disappears?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Realities of Boat Life
I love living on the boat. Although I love it less when the boat is on the hard.
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.
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?