Monday, March 7, 2016

Boat Life Gloom: Off Leash Dogs

See the leashes.....  We use them.....  But as in other areas, marinas also have folks who are less concerned about doggie safety and the impact they have on others.    There are some very well trained dogs who don't really need leashes,  they pass as if on leash close by their owners - I'm not referring to them. I'm also not referring to dogs mistakenly getting off their boats by surprise.  It happens, it's happened to us.  I'm referring to folks who just don't seem to care.  Marinas tend to attract a large number of folks who believe dogs should be free and wander at will.   It's almost like they confuse living out in the country with the openness of the Bay.  As sailors, we can sail anywhere we can and want on the Bay - roam free.  But people forget,  just like there are rules of the road for sailing,  there are land rules to follow in a marina.

I'm sitting here tonight again feeling the effects to of those careless folks who don't think rules apply to them and let their dogs offleash in our marina.  I know this is a larger problem,  not one of the marina only. It really ruins my day.  I work very hard training my two and they aren't perfect,  but it makes it so much harder when others are oblivious and outright uncaring of others.

I'm at a loss of how to handle the owner who's dog is running full speed at my dog and yelling "he's friendly". I got into a little argument with a guy tonight when I told him I didn't care if his dog was friendly as his dog should be on leash. Mine is friendly as well and would like nothing more than me dropping her leash for them to play.  But we're in a park, not a dog park there are other people around and I'm trying to have a walk with my dog. He instead verbally attacked my dog who was visibly excited about his dog racing around us. Fortunately it was short lived as I wasn't sticking around too long. He doesn't care about the leash law. Unfortunately he lives here.  And I get to see him and his dog most days.

I've had neighbors let their dogs romp through the parking lot - clearly out of sight..... I've had dogs charge at my leashed dogs repeatedly while the owners fumble around surprised they are supposed to manage their dogs,  not even carrying a leash.  Our marina has had problems of people letting their dogs roam unattended.  I haven't seen, but have heard of some letting their dogs poop on other people's boats. I've picked up poop off of the dock from neighbors dogs so mine don't get the blame. It's always suprising.

Our marina has a large park and off leash dog play area - big, with lots of space, hills, a couple trails. There's really no reason to have your dog meandering through parking lots, streets and the city park area.  There's also little enforcement in our marina, I assume due to funding issues.

Admittedly, I am sensitive to this.  I have pitbulls and for the most part Tack and Clewie are good - though they have had some leash reactivity.  As most people know, pitbulls get a much more limited range of acceptable behavior and mistakes.  They need to be so much better than the average dog. And even if they do nothing "wrong" people will overact by just looking at them.

But I also lead some pitbull walks with a local meetup group and know that there are other dogs who have issues with dedicated owners working with them.  These folks need safe places where they can train and work with their dogs in a controlled environment. Most marinas in our area are city parks and are also under leash laws... Public parks are a great place to work on training in exciting environments at appropriate distances.  I just wish folks respected the rules.

I'm also surprised about the lack of respect for your neighbor.  Marinas are close communities.... sometimes you are relaxing in your living room with your neighbor relaxing in their living room less than 10 feet away.  And pretty much everytime you leave your boat, you run into someone.  So in this sort of environment, it's surprising when folks don't see and respect the impact they have on others.

Thoughts? Any ideas how to deal with the non-leashers?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Better with two - depends on who you ask

Here is a photo of the Abbot and Costello bit these two got me into this morning….  And yes, I need to explain.

As you know, we live on a sailboat – the entrance to our boat is an about 5 ½ foot ladder – it’s pretty darn steep.  Tack being 50 lbs learned (was taught) to climb it pretty soon after coming to live with us.  When Clewie saw the advantages Tack had of being able to climb out on his own, she also quickly found the motivation to do it by herself as well (though she will usually let us lift her unless she’s super motivated).

*** Going down is a different story, both dogs get lifted down… Greg and I have each devised the version we prefer to make it easier for us – but the dogs absolutely don’t jump….. unless it’s raining and we’re slow (or not super speedy fast) getting them in from the rain – because, of course, they might melt… it is rain after all.

Back to this morning….. I was headed out – climbed the ladder, moved the hatch, turned around and replaced it…. By this time,  they had climbed into the position above – Clewie sitting on the top step and Tack perched halfway up the ladder waiting for Clewie to move so he could climb the rest of the way.  Both were looking up at me with waggy “bring me with you” tails.

I don't like them "figuring out" how to get down by themselves (ie: jumping from a precarious position), so went to put them below myself.

When I opened the hatch, Clewie ran out with Tack following…..  I said back inside, grabbed Clewie and went back down to lift her below…. Reached up to get Tack, who ran to the back of the boat – then I head up to go get Tack and Clewie climbs back up.

I end up scooping Clewie like a football with one hand and climb backwards down the ladder while hanging on to Tack’s collar.  After putting Clewie down, I quickly get up and lift Tack down as well. 

The next try – they both stay off the ladder….


Monday, February 8, 2016

Potty times

The most talked about doggie topic when people find out we sail with dogs aboard is about how they do their business.  We have a piece of fake grass that we use for them to do their business..... only on the grass.....  we don't want them to go in the marina on the boat - though there have been circumstances when one was sick that we did bend that rule.  Once, Clewie was on heavy doses of Prednizone for suspected MMM and needed to pee about every 2 hours.  My sanity needed her to use the "fake grass" some of the time.

And for the most part, I would rather they not just go anytime we are out sailing.  They are able to let us know they need to go - and we have been able to put the mat down, then pick it up when they are finished.   I also think that guests find this more tolerable - at least it will give you a chance to prepare grandma or kids that the dog is about to go to the bathroom.

The biggest trick in training this is to have them know to go on command, and on a fairly regular schedule (so you can predict it).  It's also helpful to have a good routine in place. for example, we regularly go out for "bathroom breaks" where we have a strict routine and distance for them to do their business. This also helps at home when the weather is nasty, or they are injured so that you don't have to go on a long walk just waiting for them to go.

But back to boat potty training, when you are all prepared and ready to try out going aboard - then, you be STRONG the first time you go out to try it at anchor.  If you cave after 10 hours..... and bring them to shore, then you have taught them to wait it out for 10 hours until you bring them to shore. The first time they go is the hardest - and when they do, make it the biggest party with high value treats you can muster.  

training details

We have full details about how to train this from Dr Dunbar (above)..... who we were lucky enough to attend his community training talks when we adopted our previous dog from the Berkeley Humane Society.  We asked him after one of the talks... and it has served us well... Matey was a superstar with taking care of her business while cruising and happily living aboard.  We have met many cruisers who need to go to shore every morning and evening.. which means no overnight passages.  It also means that in uncomfortable and potentially dangerous conditions at anchor - your dog would need to be brought to shore multiple times a day.  Once down in Mexico, we were boat bound in a Norther with gusts to 50kts.... it would have been uncomfortable, not to mention dangerous to have to row Matey ashore.

Clewie is well on her way to being even better than Matey - I can usually get her to produce one and two on command (as long as she has something to do), she really gets it....  Tack is the reason for this past weekend's project.  He has pee down pretty good, but struggles with the serious business.  It helped a lot to actually put on their leash and say the same words/routine as when we go out for a bathroom break in the marina.  He is older, about 4 years old (3 when we adopted him), so that could be the reason.  But he's also a more cautious dog than courageous Clewie.

Our toilet is a purchased piece of fake grass mat ... which was pre-cut.  The size is a little bit small for Tack... I believe.  I suspect when he gets more experience, it will be fine being smaller, but this weekend, I thought I would make it a little bit bigger by attaching a larger piece of astroturf.  Kinda like toilet training wheels.

My hope is that he will be more comfortable with the larger target and then I can trim it down a bit.  But since it's been awhile since we did an overnight at anchor - they think it's a nice lawn on the back deck that I've created for them....

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Boat Life Perk: Night Herons

(photo from: wikipedia article)

This is not my photo.... though we see these guys on our dock hanging around almost every evening.  Unfortunately, When I have Tack or Clewie with me, they are too focused on loosing their marbles for me to get a photo... I want to, but I can barely manage unlocking the gate and walking through.

So, birds are a perk for our dogs living on a boat - they get to see amazing wildlife up close and personal.

Here's a video of Clewie discovering how much fun sailing can be - though we are motoring...  but back from an overnight to Sausalito a couple of months after moving in with us. Clewie and the birds

I'm not so crazy about them chasing the birds.. and the rule has been they can sometimes stay on deck while we are home... but once the bird chasing happens, they need to come back inside.  Tack is a little calmer than Clewie, so he can usually handle lounging outside a little longer/better.

The also love the bird poop on the dock along with the mussel shells the seagulls leave around after they've eaten their meal.

They've yet to enjoy chasing schools of fish in clear warm water... but perhaps one day.

Bird life definitely gets two paws up from the furry Pura Vida Crew.....