Pets and boats can make a great combo

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2005

Special to the News-Herald

Two weeks ago I had a chance to visit my sister in California. She is in the marketing and promotion world and has a beautiful home in Los Angles. She also has three of the craziest springer spaniels I have ever met. Each dog has its own personality.

During my visit the issue of this column came up. Donna asked if I had ever done an article about safely taking pets underway. I paused for a second, gave it some thought then concluded that I had never broached the subject. So Donna, this column is for you and your three boys, Murphy, Dryfus, and Bosley!


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When I started researching this column idea I found that there were a lot of good recommendations published which could be very useful to our readers. In all the years I was involved in Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations I never encountered pets onboard a vessel. I guess I was lucky because there seems to be a lot more. The best Web site that I found was This user friendly web site had all kinds of great ideas as did several other sites.

Item #1 – Make sure your boat is &uot;pet friendly&uot; and &uot;pet safe.&uot; Some dogs need to have a space to call their own. My sister has fluffy cushions set up in three different locations which the dogs go to for rest. If you bring the dog’s bed make sure it is placed in a location that is easily accessible to the dog.

If it is hot or cold the dog or cat needs to have a place to cool down or warm up.

Item #2 – Get the animal into a comfort zone around water. Some dogs love to prance around in the surf or swim or just jump in the water. A recommendation is to do any introductions slowly. Talk with your dog’s doctor about how the dog will react to a water environment and the rocking that occurs.

Item #3 – Buy the dog or cat a personal flotation device! If you read this column you know that I have spotlighted PFDs for humans and the same holds true for pets. The Boat U.S. Foundation did a great study on PFDs and pets, that you can read at:

Item #4 – Have a plan for how and where the pet will relieve itself.

Enough said.

Item #5 – Finally, be aware of how your pet reacts to noise. If you have inboards or outboards, when you fire them up the dog may react. Allow your pet to get used to these noises, including the horn or the radio. One good way to an introduction is to bring the pet down when the vessel is pierside and allow them to react. Do this before your initial voyage.

In conclusion, most of these recommendations are common sense, but should be considered. Remember that your pet is a living, breathing animal, who requires acclimation. Keeping this in mind, and the element that they will be exposed to will make your voyage and their voyage enjoyable.

Until next week…Boat Safe…and Boat Smart!