Friday, November 20, 2015

Sheep Dung in November

Sheep Dung????  If you heard that and thought, ewwww, no way would I like that, get me far away.....
This might just change your mind.  When I hear "Sheep Dung" I think, romping, wine, BBQ, relaxing, hiking, gorgeous views.  It's because Sheep Dung Properties is our doggie Nirvana.

We started visiting about 13 years ago with our previous dog, Matey... she loved it, but although we had a great time, we did visit during burr season and every romping session was followed by a nice sit down session while Greg and I took turns pulling burrs off of her.

But now - we have these two pittbulls and they come with nice short hair... so - burrs don't bug us anymore....

We tugged

We fetched

We hiked

We trained

We played

We took in the views

We felt on top of the world.

Seriously, it was super relaxing, and we felt a world away.  The weather was beautiful this time of year, A little cold for swimming, but Clewie and Tack aren't really into that anyway.  The coyotes whooped and hollared the night away and C&T let them go to it... no whining to get outside to join them from these two.

Clewie was up to making any kind of new friend she could....

We woke to cloud cover and beautiful light streaming through....

While we waited for a "Off the Hook!!!!" mexican lunch place to open, (Libby's in Philo, CA), we discovered a little park with walking trails through the redwoods to explore and get some posing done.

Here are a few more photos of our time.....

Trails through the 500 acre property that is Sheep Dung

Back of the Barn from one of the trails 

Interesting display on the trail......  

Mornings brought Valley fog

Gate at the entrance to our 2 acre fenced area.

Tack getting some Jolly Ball time.... he was so cute and kinda obsessed with it.

Ahhhh, nighttime fires.....

The cabin

Cutie pies ready for some spectacularness

I know it kinda looks like an ad... but it screams - RELAX

For Tack, Happy is plopping with a ball in his mouth - but better in leaves.

The Boy, posing....

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two little pirates

A little update to share how these two are doing.  This past weekend was their last training class on Sundays. Now we move to Saturday mornings... Very happy about this - Greg's schedule will now allow him to handle a dog - so instead of me doing class with two of them - each dog gets individual class time.  Followed by an adventure with their pittie friends - I love being a part of that.  And I love that Clewie and Tack have doggie friends to do things with.
This week so far has them romping at the park and being marina rats early part of the week - tomorrow we head out to Sheep Dung - their second visit.  We went this past January just days after bringing Tack home.  I'm looking forward to being in my favorite Doggie Nirvana locale with a relaxed pack.
The above pic is of them in their halloween costumes - we ended up bringing them trick or treating at a WAG doggie daycare.  It was great experience having them in costume around other dogs and people in costumes and they did great....
Then on Saurday they attended the Boo Festival at Jack London Square.... there must have been a few hundred dogs and lots of people.....The only hiccup was Tack getting bullyish when Clewie was playing with another dog.  I guess he either didn't understand they were playing - or wanted to get in on the action.... but 2 on 1 is out of my comfort zone..... Luckily, I had a couple friends there to manage tack's leash so i could just handle a playing Clewie.  But it was super fun and I'm really glad I can bring both to these sort of things by myself.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Common Boat Dog Questions

How do you deal with the potty stuff?

First, I learned the difference between 'inside' and 'outside'. This was done over about 3 weeks time - every time we went inside (stepping on the boat) or outside (stepping off the boat) the boat, we said, 'Let's go Inside!', or 'Let's go outside!' This was to help define to Matey that there was an inside (not ok to go potty) and outside (ok to go potty). We didn't want her going in the cockpit unless the Astroturf was in place - so basically, the Astroturf was to be labeled as 'outside' - but that part will come later.

When I had that down, I learned to go 'pee pee' and 'pooh pooh' on command. This is a beneficial command regardless of what you use it for. I cannot tell you how many times I was thankful she knew this. Whether in the rain, just before hopping in the car for a long road trip, or to be sure she empties her system before a ocean sail.

It's really easy to do, when you know she has to go, take her out on leash, stand in one spot, eventually after all the smelling, she will get bored and go. At this time you make an absolute fool of yourself with the biggest happy dance you can muster: 'Good, Girl, Good Pee Pee (or Pooh Pooh)' and give lots of liver treats (or cheese, rotisserie chicken, lamb - something REALLY GOOD). Do this religiously EVERY time she has to go - always on leash, if possible. But if not - make sure you do the happy dance and give her HIGH VALUE treats every time she goes - and repeat "Good Pee Pee or Good Pooh Pooh".

When she starts to go faster, and you are able to predict it, start saying, "Go Pee Pee" just before you know she is about to go. When she is really good at this, you are ready for the hardest part - the power of the wills....

When I was really good at that task, mom and dad took a little baggie sample (let me tell you i thought they lost it when they were sticking the little baggie under me while I was peeing. We really did this. Dr Dunbar (a fabulous animal behaviorist/trainer we spoke with about this beforehand) said some people even as part of the 'on cue' training in the section above, put a symbol (a plastic purple flower for example) down where the dog usually goes potty every time they go. Then when it comes time to go on the boat, they put the symbol down on the Astroturf. We were in a rush and decided to go with the 'fresh sample' option.

We went out for a sail to Angel Island, anchoring in Hospital Cove and they took out my toilet. Now, this is the hardest part, so be sure to leave the dinghy at home, the reason we went to Angel Island is because we knew she wasn't even allowed on the Island - so it was kinda defining for us. At 'going outside' time, we asked, she said she had to go, we went into the cockpit, took out the astroturf, put down the sample, pointed to it and said, 'Outside, Go Pee Pee'.

We did it a number of times throughout the night, we also didn't sleep very well, every time Matey got up, one of us got up with her to show her the new toilet. We also HAD to be there if she did use it - because when she does go, it's the biggest happy dance of all - great treats, everything to let her know she is one good girl!!! (or boy if you have a boy doggie). Then clean it up right away!!!

By morning I had given them the presents they were waiting all night for.

Although this does seem like a lot of trouble - this is very worth going through and I think a responsible part of bringing your dog sailing. We have been on even day sails of 6 hours where Matey for whatever reason, didn't or wasn't able to go before we left shore and we have had to use her toilet underway. It's a very comforting feeling as a doggie mom to see your dog able to relieve herself in a place that she knows is okay.

Not to mention the freedom of not HAVING to go to shore. Usually when we are anchored and the dinghy is in the water, we bring Matey to shore. She loves the beach and we love to watch her play. But it's a great feeling knowing that we don't have to.

Since I only use my toilet on overnights where we are at anchor, I still hang on to the hope of going on land. I'm much better at #1 than #2. We are thinking that Matey will become more used to it when we take off for our year long cruise. When we did a trip to Catalina in which we sailed straight down the coast - 3 days of 24 hour sailing, by the 2nd day, Matey was regularly using her toilet as she would land - except no one had to bring her - she just walked out on her own when she had to go.

But we still do a happy dance and give her treats when she uses it now. Since we are most often at the dock nowadays, she still needs a bit of reminding when we go out. But when it comes down to it and she has to go, at least I know she recognizes the Astroturf as the place to go.

How do you make a doggie sailing toilet?

We cut a piece of Astroturf the size of the space we wanted, lashed it to a backing of dry deck to weigh it down in the wind. Tied a long line to it for dragging overboard during cleaning. That's it.

How do you stay feeling safe when it gets rough?

I go down below in my aft cabin:

My bed usually goes in here when we sail and I normally keep lots of pillows for lounging in there anyway. If it's going to be a rough day, mom will sometimes put her ipod in there with little speakers that play calming music. It's actually a cozy little room. This is where I also run to when there are fireworks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Struggles with the Dinghy

Tack Here,

Most of the time, my life is pretty much like any other dog..... On days where the parents are earning money for my treats and cookies, I stay at home. I'm a mellow guy, so I get to hang out in the whole boat - Clewie stays in her crate. most of the time, I can be found sleeping in the upper sea berth - it's a little nook just above the settee (like a couch). About midday, my chauffeur comes to pick me and Sissy up to bring us to play with our pack friends for a couple of hours......

After we're all tuckerd out - we get delivered back home and get to nap a couple of hours till Mom comes home. Then we get to romp and play - or if we're too tuckered from earlier we can have snuggle time on the couch. Eventually - dinner time comes around and we hang out, watch TV, and snuggle - sometimes going for more walks.

But sometimes, the parents start moving the house...... they put a thick jacket on me and keep us under the dodger. Right now, till we get used to things, Mom tethers us so we don't go wandering, but she says when we get our sea legs a little more, we'll be able to hang out with out the tether. I really don't have any desire to walk around... though Sissy does.... I just like to hang out on the comfy chairs out of the wind behind the dodger.

A couple weeks ago - we went on a little sailing adventure..... toward the end - we were in a raftup with about 7 other boats.... i LOVED the visiting part - people were coming over all day, giving me pets and snuggles. But..... I learned we also have a wee small boat. I like our home boat much better.... this small one is only big enough for our family...... maybe some toys as well.... and it's rubber - dad had to inflate it. let's just say, I didn't trust it.... when the wind blew, I got down real low. When Sissy came, I was braver - she's one tough cookie - me...... I can be a little unsure about new things.

We took the little boat ride to shore a few times. And I was slowly getting more comfortable...... but I think i'm going to need more practice so I don't struggle so with it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tack's first Sail

Tack had his first sail yesterday.  No shaking, no tail tucking...  he was a brave little boy.  Clewie ran around like crazy - chasing birds.  At one time we passed a sea lion on a buoy and although I don't think she saw it, she got a whiff of him and it started a barking fest with her running around the boat.
It makes me a little nervous about the first time they see dolphins swimming with us - but I think we have a little time before that can happen.

So a little about us.... My husband and I livaboard our Hylas 47 sailboat - with Clewie and Tack. Greg and I have lived aboard over 15 years together.  We had a dog previous to the current canine crew who was with us for about 11 years before she passed over the rainbow bridge a year ago.  Her name was Matey - she was a sheperdy mix, about 45 lbs.  She did coastal trips with us, day sailed, went fishing, rounded point conception I think 3 times, spent a season in Mexico, crossed the Pacific to Hawaii where we cruised with her for a few months before crossing again back to Berkeley.  So, we are used to having a dog aboard - though this is our first time with a mini pack.

We did also have a male pitbull aboard for about 6 months until we realized that we weren't a match. That was about the hardest decision I've ever had to make and hardly a day goes by that I don't think about him... but sometimes it doesn't work and if Greg and I hadn't made that tough decision to return him to the shelter we adopted him from, we wouldn't have Tack and Clewie in our lives.

A little about Clewie - she's been living with us about 4 months.  She's about a year and a half old. She's super silly and playful.  She pretty much adores all dogs and people... she had a fractured hip when we adopted her which had healed wrong, we've had that fixed and she's now pain free and playing again - though she can't go completely crazy on it yet.  She has been just about perfect - a very easy-for-us dog.  We had been thinking of having a two doggie family and thought it would be fun.  Clewie seemed to love just about every dog we've seen her meet.  So we were open to an addition.

A little about Tack - Greg's mom was interested in getting a dog, so we had been visiting shelters with her.  New Year's eve we visited the Martinez shelter and saw Tack..... he was about 12 lbs underweight - his backbone and ribs clearly visible.  But his temperament seemed so calm.  There was utter chaos going on around him with barking jumping dogs - at one point while we were there, the dog next to him threw himself on the wall - but Tack was calm, he did look around in the directions of the chaos - but no barking and except when someone came to his door on the other side of the kennel to open it, he always quickly turned his attention back to us.

We couldn't get him out of our minds and decided to bring Clewie down to meet him and try it out.  Everyone we spoke to said we weren't going to really know until we actually tried it.  He and Clewie got along from the start - not super excited play - but a definite interest in each other.  We took him home.

Since then, there have been one or two instances where someone (Tack) growled with Clewie after too much excitement.  She can be pretty annoying with her continuous play invitations... but he seems to enjoy it and usually starts to play with her, or moves away to go lay down somewhere else.  Fortunately when he walks away, she lets him go.  Daily - they snuggle together - they really do enjoy being with each other - that is obvious.  Clewie is over the moon happy to have Tack.

We're really lucky that they've been able to share a boat, bed, back seat of the car, toys, bones, water without incident.  I know this is luck, not skill, and we are very grateful.

Here, I'd like to document our life together.


Thursday, January 15, 2015


We’re back…..  really we haven’t gone anywhere….. our cruising has slowed because Greg is working most weekends while I am at my Mon – Fri  job.  Readers might also notice a new title “Two Pitties Afloat” and wonder what happened to Matey.  We lost her pretty suddenly – she had a spinal injury while recovering from TPLO surgery early 2014.  It was a tough time…..
But we have added furry crew again to Pura Vida – this time 8 paws aboard……..  Clewie and Tack… they’re pitbulls and we’re having a blast with them.
Clewie joined our family September 2014, and Tack joined up this past January.   They’ve each had their dramas – some together, some separately.  They’ve both been out sailing and it’s been fascinating to see how they each learn from each other.
I just wanted to introduce them – we’ll have adventures coming……