Day 4 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad
It might come as a surprise to some of you to read about dogs in relation to being a nomad. How could you roam the world with dogs in tow? It is definitely possible, if you put them first and if you find the right transportation methods. People close to us know how much we loved our dogs (and others) and that we would do anything to make them happy, never leaving them behind. How did we pull that off?
When I met Mark in California, he had two wonderful Australian Shepherd mixes, Kali and Darwin. The plan was to move onto a monohull (sailboat with one hull) and go cruising in Mexico. Mark found a dog-friendly boat, with only three wide steps down into the cabin (living area) and a flip-down transom in the back, so the dogs could easily board the dinghy. Except for the fact that they refused to pee on deck (Why would they, after having learned to NEVER do their business in their house for many years?), Kali and Darwin did great in San Francisco Bay. Until we poked our nose into the mighty Pacific… We had not counted on the effect of a heeling (tilted) boat on them (and me). Especially Kali was miserable, being uncomfortable, not knowing top from bottom and panting non-stop. Two days out – after owning and working on this boat for seven months – we decided to sell our new floating home. Instead, we bought a truck camper and explored Mexico and Central America overland. The dogs (and I) were much happier!
Fast forward to our second sailing attempt. Based on previous experiences, we looked for a suitable small catamaran (with two hulls) this time, since this type of sailboat lies flatter in the water and moves more stable. It is also roomier. We slept in a 3-person tent with our pups for a couple of months along the East Coast of the US, until we found our new home: Irie. The dogs (and I) loved this method of sailing and living on the water much better. We set out towards the Caribbean, dealing with the extra dog paperwork for the Bahamas. Kali and Darwin loved running off leash on the beaches and swimming in the gorgeous water, and so did we. Once in Puerto Rico, Kali unexpectedly passed away.
Darwin stayed with us another two years, while we visited most of the Eastern Caribbean islands, following the temporary pet importation rules – yes, it is allowed to take your pets to most islands, even the ex-British ones (I wrote an extensive article about all the rules and regulations for the cruising magazine Caribbean Compass). We would pick and choose our islands and anchorages based on the possibility of taking Darwin and we hopped from island to island to avoid long passages. In 2010, our boy died during a trip to the US, also from cancer, also unexpectedly, also too young. Since then, we have been tempted to adopt a stray dog in many countries, but, having a dog while traveling does restrict your freedom and we would have never been able (or contemplated) to cross oceans. We still miss our dogs every day.
Currently, the void is filled with the dogs we pet sit. They do belong to other people, but we grow attached to them and enjoy walking, loving and taking care of them, without the full responsibility of owning them. And, this way, we can still move about the country (and abroad) without our own pets in tow. As to dogs in our future? The question is not if, but when. 🙂
Have you traveled with your dog? Have you seen tourists with dogs during your holidays? Do you think it would be better to leave the dogs at home with a pet sitter, friends, family, or in a kennel during an annual vacation? What would you do with your dog if you were to decide on long-term travel? Have someone else care for him/her, or plan your trip around being able to take him/her?