Jessie is our dog. Usually we end up leaving her behind when we go on our trips. Since we bought the boat we have wanted to bring her with us. We miss her when we are gone. She goes and stays with Grandma and Grandpa, and they love her and take good care of her, but we miss having her with us. She is a great dog and she loves the water, so we knew she would love the boat, but we had a few challenges to overcome in order to bring her with us. First was how to get her on and off the boat. Our boat’s entrance is high off the water and most docks. Last year David designed and installed boarding steps that we use almost on a daily basis now. The stairs lead down to a foot off the water and allow us easier access to loading in and out of our tender or dinghy. And if the dock is that low below us we can use the steps for that as well. They are still steep as far as stairs go, but they are much better than a ladder. When we were in Mexico we met a fellow boater and his dog was able to go up and down the stairs easily enough so we hoped Jessie could too. The other challenge with Jessie is she is old now. She is 10 and is in her last year or so of life most likely. She has some arthritis in her hind legs from old injuries and surgery. She is also overweight. She had been slowly gaining over the last few years. When I was home last January I took her to the vet for her annual check up and they found that she has hypo thyroidism. Once she was on meds for her thyroid and a strict diet she lost a lot of weight and was back to her almost bouncy self. So the week before we were to fly out we decided to take her with us.
She is loving the boat! What’s not to love… she’s got her family, and water all around. So the challenge with water all around was potty training her to use the deck for the bathroom. We bought a roll of sod, the same as at our house, and flew it with us to the boat and laid it out on the side deck. After the first day we did not take Jessie to shore except for a quick walk up and down the dock. It took about 24 hours and then we saw her pee on her grass patch. Jessie’s response to change is to stop eating, so she hadn’t been eating much and therefore we were still waiting for #2, to see if she would do that on her grass patch. A day later and she did. We rewarded her with praise and treats. And since then she has been doing good. Our grass patch is slowly dying and is getting smaller as we throw the dead mud parts overboard. But she doesn’t really need it anymore. She prefers to use the bow of the boat for #2. I wonder if she just likes having the wind in her face while she’s pooping. I’ll have to watch at home and see if she turns into the wind while in the back yard.