Guys. We have dogs on our boat. DOGS!
Five days have passed since we adopted Cole and Marigot, changing much of our daily routine. We expected to feel overwhelmed when we took this on – and sometimes it does feel as if we are in over our heads. But, so far, it’s been waaaaaay better than I imagined it could be (touch wood). As luck would have it, our dogs are the smartest, most eager dogs in the history of dogs.
We’re focusing our training efforts on essentials that will get us safely sailing again with the pooches. This week, we have five objectives: walking on the leash, peeing/pooping in a designated spot, getting into/out of the dinghy, learning to come when we call, and generally feeling comfortable walking around the boat and being carried up and down the companionways.
Of all of these, I’d been dreading boat potty training the most. On advice from other dog boats, we cut a swath of astroturf, got a little pee on it as they went on land (as we’ve learned, it’s all about marking ones territory), and placed it in a designated spot for doing their business. Merigot got it immediately. We jumped for joy when she squatted on the bow for the first time. And then, she blew us away by going #2. We almost forget to let her finish, so eager were we to lavish her with praise and treats.
At first it seemed that Cole got it too. He peed on the turf, same spot as his sister, and we rejoiced. Then, he refused to go again, neither #1 nor #2, and not on land or sea, for another 36 hours. A person has never been more obsessed (or worried) than I was over his doggie bowel movements. Luckily, these things have a way of working themselves out. And when he finally pooped, he was instantly a much happier dog (and I, a much happier human).
They are tolerating the leashes and starting to get the hang of walking along side. But, if one of us attempts to hold two leashes, disaster. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re pleased that they are both doing great moving around the boat and don’t seem to notice the motion much when we get waked in the anchorage. Marigot, who is paradoxically overweight despite being recently homeless, is a fearless and clumsy little meatball – a combo that worries me, as she seems to enjoy standing at the edge of the bowsprit and letting her ears flap in the breeze. The sooner we can get our hands on some boat netting, the better. For now, we’ve tied extra lines between stanchions to keep the doggies from slipping off the boat at anchor.
They were beyond patient with us as we worked out the best way to raise and lower them into the dinghy from the big boat – the first attempts were not pretty. Finally, Brian invented a lifting sling, and alleviated a lot of human and doggie stress. More on that in an upcoming post.
The frustration, the exhaustion, the constant problem solving – it’s worth it for the love of these two amazing pups. We’re so lucky to have them.
A “business meeting” on the bow:
Still time for horsing around:
Lights out at 8 most nights: