Trip Planning: Big Dog on a Boat

She’s cute, but she’s not agile.  Honey, our adopted stray, is twelve now.  She’s doing well, as you can see.  Still, she’s pretty much lost her hops.  These days, we lift her through the companionway, and she has a behemoth of a ramp to get to and from the finger pier.

We’d like to take her with us on this trip, up until crossing the Gulf.  But to do that, we need to be able to take her to shore.  Ever try getting a 95 pound elderly dog into and out of a dinghy while at anchor?  Twice a day, every day?  It’s a pickle.  Friends of ours, equally fond of their dogs, actually switched to an RV this winter in the face of this very same problem.  They want a boat again–when their dogs die.

Our current notion is to buy her a life vest with the lifting straps built in, bring her up on the deck, and USE THE HALYARD to transition to and from the dinghy.  I capitalize because every time I say our plan out loud, I laugh.  Well, we’ll know whether the notion will work within a few weeks.  There may be some excellent footage.  The other option is to find a kind sucker to watch her.  (Aka: M&L, you know who you are…we love you!)  We had also thought of a rotating dinghy hoist equipped with a block and tackle, and considered locating it so she didn’t have to go forward.  Or building a passerelle in the same location.



However, I did buy a Help ‘Em Up harness from Blue Dog Designs yesterday.  I’d originally been looking for a canine float coat with lifting points, then stumbled across a post on Where The Coconuts Grow.

[A side note–in order to get the harness delivered, we had to call a FedEx branch in Anchorage (110 miles away) and ask if they would hold a package there until we could come get it. Because Blue Dog Designs (and a growing percentage of Amazon sellers) uses FedEx or similar, or will not ship to a PO Box, or will not ship to Alaska because they define it as NOT PART OF THE US…sigh. Anyways, we drive up to Anchorage in a few days, and among a few other errands, we’ll be picking up a harness we think will let us bring Honey along.]

I did do some back-of-napkin cost calculations, after looking at the design.  I was pretty sure I could sew it myself in a few hours, but the numbers tilted in favor of buying the harness.  Mostly because I am embarrassingly still slow on my feet after getting dental work done, and I have a second round of it in 10 days.  [I waited 6 months, so I could get the work covered by our dental insurance.  Pain and suffering, I tell you. And stupid. Probably a lot of stupid, I’ll concede.]   With a month to go, and plenty of remaining projects, we wanted to settle the Honey sailing/staying with a sitter issue.

wtcg ex dog harness
WTCG demonstrating how they use the harness on their old pup.


Nathan and I acted out using the harness.  No, really.  We agreed we though it would work.  I bought it.  We both breathed big sighs of relief, I think.  Honey is at the age where we want her to have her last few big adventures with us, not being watched by some third party.  I mean, obviously, everyone who hangs with her loves her–she’s a gentle marshmallow–but she’s our girl.  We want to watch her frolic on isolated beaches, and know that we made sure our dog had a good life, from start to finish.


Honey in the fireweed, living the good life.

2 thoughts on “Trip Planning: Big Dog on a Boat

  1. Hope your Honey takes well to the harness and your efforts to keep her by your side.”

    Our Honey started out pretty timid. Now she is so confident in her mountaineering harness that she seems like a different dog.

    My husband has worked out all the ways to make transporting our Honey into the dingy using our boom and a block and tackle. If you ever have any questions, feel free to drop us a note.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will! We already lift her in and out of the car, on and off the boat, and in and out of the vberth (the last for cuddles), so she’s comfortable being hoisted about. She trusts us far more than the strength of her hindquarters, these days. Makes me happy we can keep her with us, and sad because she’s well into the decline.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s