We recently ordered an Outward Hound life jacket for our dog, Daisy.
Daisy is an 10-year-old mix (German Shepherd and Border Collie is our best guess) that I adopted in 2010. On our last 6-month trip, Daisy stayed with family while we were out, and we think that will probably be the best option for our next cruise, too, especially when we’re out of the U.S.
Many sailors do live aboard with dogs, but for several reasons, it’s not practical for us:
- Our boat doesn’t have a swim step or other easy way for the dog to get up and down between the dingy and the yacht. Therefore, we would need to train her to do her business on the boat (we’ve thought of a few solutions, but none is very sexy), or frequently winch her 45-lb body up and down in the air from the yacht to the dingy to get her to shore to relieve herself, and bring her back. That doesn’t seem like a pleasant life for Daisy.
- Also, Daisy isn’t a water dog. She doesn’t really swim, or like the water. She’ll wade in up to her “ankles” but otherwise doesn’t find much joy in it. She fell into a swimming pool once, and although she figured out how to swim, she definitely didn’t seem eager to go back in the pool. Ever. So confining her to a wet boat doesn’t seem like a good lifestyle for her.
- There’s a lot of paperwork and logistics involved in bringing a dog outside of the U.S. To check into the Bahamas, you are required to have paperwork from your veterinarian signed and dated within 24 hours of your entry into the country. That may be possible on a power boat, but since crossing from Key West to Bimini takes us 3-4 days, it’s literally impossible to do this. We have heard of people getting paperwork signed by their vet with a blank or future date, but aren’t sure we could back up that story. Another option is flying your dog in from the U.S. to someplace like George Town, but there’s cost and logistics associated with that too, and Daisy is not used to flying. So going to stay with relatives with wide open running land seems like the best option.
Nonetheless, we bought Daisy a life jacket for weekend trips to the boat. We needed something with sturdy handles to lift her up from the dock to the boat. Despite our following the size chart, the Outward Hound jacket we purchased (size M for under $20) turned out to be too small for her 26″ chest, so we upgraded to a size L, which was the same cost. Pretty reasonable, compared to some of the $70+ jackets at West Marine.
Initially, Daisy HATED the life jacket. She froze up and whined whenever she had it on (think of the snowsuit scene in A Christmas Story). But after lots of praise and bribing with pepperoni, she has come to tolerate wearing it around the house for short periods of time, and after a while, she doesn’t seem to even notice it’s on. She even lets us lift her up in the air by the handles (with a little bit of support under her belly). Our next step is to help her jump up on things while wearing it, to get her ready for boarding Temptress. We’ll see how it works when we take her to the boat.
Happy sailing, Emily
Woof, woof! – Daisy