Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Dogs Have No Place on a Boat"

Yes, I've said this numerous times and still believe it for the most part. But things change, and boy, sometimes they change in a hurry. On Christmas Day a friend posted a picture of a puppy that her son needed to adopt out. I couldn't get the cute thing out of my mind all day and ran through all of the reasons why we haven't had a dog for 13 years or so. Humans are great at rationalization, and I might be eligible for an award of some sort in that category, so I began to think of reasons for us to own a dog instead of why not to. All I needed to do was mention the prospect to Rosie and she was all for it, without counting any reasons at all, pro or con. We decided to go see the puppy during our Christmas dinner and couldn't wolf our food down fast enough before we were out the door for the 45 minute drive to Alton, Ill. It was laughable to think that there would be some sort of decision to be made once we arrived to "view" the puppy, as it was pretty much a forgone conclusion. We brought "Holly" home and our whole world since has been turned on its head.
 When we first decided to become live aboard cruisers on Swing Set eventually, one idea lurked in the back of my mind, and that idea was the benefits of having a "guard dog" with us on Swing Set. We have no delusions about Holly getting big enough to become anything more than a living burglar alarm, but that's exactly what she will be, a five pound burglar alarm.
 Since we have a few months before we begin our journey, I thought that in view of recent developments, I would relate to you our experience with having dogs aboard our boats.
 It is obvious that people who like boats also like their pets. Boating magazines feature whole pages devoted to pictures of dogs on boats wearing hats and sunglasses, websites for boaters are the same, and every post I see from the AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association) mention the crews names, which usually include a dog name or two.

 This is a picture of our family dog, "Paree" that my dad brought home when I was about seven years old and this picture was taken on the Meramec River at Minnie Ha Ha in 1968. Note the pier from the "Old Bridge", no longer standing.
  Paree was the family dog and he went everywhere with us, including our outings on the boat. They say that poodles take to water and are good swimmers, which Paree was. They also say that poodles are high strung and are yappers, which Paree wasn't. He learned how to bark from the beagle next door.
 In the picture, Paree is mounted on his "surfboard", a towable water sled that my dad made from Styrofoam. If the family was going skiing, so was the dog, and he took to this activity with the same poise and confidence that he did with all things, being the smart dog that he was. One story I remember as a kid was when we took him to the schoolyard one day and taught him to climb the ladder to a slide, a big, tall slide, you know, the kind of slides that populated all of the best playgrounds before lawsuits got the best of things. So we showed him how to climb the ladder and go down a few times, and being kids, we began to involve ourselves with other activities when completely left to his own devices, Paree climbed up the ladder and went sliding down the slide completely on his own.
 But Parees strong suit was swimming in the river and diving off the boat dock. No one went swimming without him joining in and the sound of the boat trailer hitting the hitch ball was like that of the bell of Pavlov to him. I was long gone, living in an apartment before Paree finally succumbed to old age in 1977.
 The next post will feature the first dog Rosie and I got when we started living on the Meramec River.

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