December 15, 2012

The Dog Paradise

We have now officially found the dog paradise! It's called Yelapa, and it is situated at the South end of Banderas Bay near Puerto Vallarta. Everyone living there has a dog, most likely more than one since I'm almost sure there was more dogs than people in the area. And every dog seems to also have an owner, at first I was pretty certain most of the dogs there would have been more or less stray. But to my surprise they were all in almost perfect condition, extremely friendly and loved. The second thing we found out as soon as we landed our dinghy on the beach, was that no dog was on a leash, in fact, it seemed to cause way less problems to just let ours run around than try to keep them on a leash while all these other dogs were going about their business.

And not just that, but the beach I'm talking about was not just a scroungy, rocky, desolate place but a white, sandy, beautiful beach full of restaurants and people, even some tourist tanning themselves on the beach chairs. In this place the dogs, the Mexicans, the tourist, all seemed to coexist in perfect harmony. There were no roads, in fact, everyone either walked, rode a horse, or if you were really well off, you might have a four-wheeler to get around. To leave the town you had to take a panga or some other type of boat. This not only made it safe for us and our dogs but also made it feel like we just went back in time. The pace of life was all of a sudden much slower and the things that seemed to matter didn't matter. What a wonderful feeling.

Our furry friends were not only allowed to run free on the beach but they were welcomed to hang out with us while we ate in a restaurant, of course surrounded by all the other dogs, including the cutest puppy I've seen literally in years. I cannot believe I did not get a good picture of him. I would have given quite a few items in exchange for this little fellow who followed Vanilla like a shark and Vanilla tried her best to ignore the little creature.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good our dogs behaved. I was expecting way more hazzle considering our dog's energy levels and the amount of things that were going on around them. A few incidences occurred when a couple males tried more or less kindly to persuade Vanilla in some mating games and Vanilla had trouble sending her message of "not interested". Or the time when Gin dug a hole the size of her or when Vanilla decided to dig a whole underneath the umbrella of the table that collapsed. Hole digging aside, they mostly hung out like all the other Mexican dogs going for a little swim now and then.  Vanilla even learned how to jump over the breaking waves and continue on to the deeper waters. Smart little fluffy I say.

Five days in Yelapa was way less than I would have spent there but I'm so happy I got to experience my dog paradise.

December 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Vanilla!

Vanilla turned 6 years at the end of November! I feel so lucky to have you in my life Vanilla! You make every day a better day just by being there! I love you.

Oakmeadow Hollyhock "Vanilla" in October 2012.

Customs and more

Mexico has been cooler, easier and way less scary than I thought. The dogs have loved it and the dog- regulations are almost non-existent. How wonderful and convenient! First, at customs, we only needed to check a box for our temporary import permit (TIP) that we were transporting live animals . . . And that was it! No one asked any details about the type of animals or their paperwork. And I had sweated to get it all together. Oh well, better safe than sorry. And in case anyone asks or the Mexican Navy boards our boat we'll have all the paperwork necessary.

In the end I suppose we got 8 different vaccines (including rabies), heart worm preventative, tick and flea control, got nice new tags on the collars and off we went. The veterinary health certificate should be good for another 5 months (6 months in total) and hopefully we won't need to visit vets or anything between changing countries. I need to double-check that information though. Also, before entering Costa Rica, we need to inform the port 48 hours in advance about having dogs. We'll see how that goes, but so far it seems that everyone is really relaxed about the dog issue. It's so much easier to travel by boat than flying. And so much less stress too.

When we first got to Ensenada, we couldn't check-in for 2 days since the customs office was closed and I wondered if we can get off the boat with dogs and all, but they said straight away that it's not a problem and so we went for a nice long bike-ride around town. After we left Ensenada we basically entered a wilderness area that rivals the Sierra's. It's vast, there is no one there, mountain range after another, beautiful bay after another and just pure silence and peace. I wrote more about our experience on my "human" blog so I'll keep it short here.

While going down the Baja we never used a lease and hardly a command to control the dogs since there was absolutely no one around and not really even wild animals to disturb. In Santa Maria Vanilla found some seabirds on the beach and we also found ourselves surrounded by three dogs instead of two. Some fisherman's dog (or possibly a stray dog) had found us playing at the beach. He was hardly more than 8-9 months old and extremely playful, which we discovered after my initial shock of Gin running towards a fairly large unknown dog in Mexico. I was worried about it being aggressive or maybe carrying some disease or fleas.. who knows. But since there was no way to prevent the interaction we just went with it and let Gin and Vanilla play with him. He had good coat and seemed to be in good health so my worries were soon gone. He stuck with us for almost our whole walk before disappearing into the mangroves. What an odd experience. I wish I had gotten a photo of it, but of course I didn't have the camera with me that time.

What blew me away about Mexico was when we arrived in Cabo San Lucas and anchored right next to the huge beach with all the resorts and dogs were allowed both on the beach and in all the restaurants which were all along the beach. And this was a huge tourist center! Really made me think about all the rules in the U.S. preventing me from taking my dogs on the trails of some state parks, beaches etc. Here everyone seems to just love dogs and welcome them with open arms! 

I'll put a couple photos here from Oceanside and Baja for you to check out. Also if you are interested in reading our other blogs or watching the short videos we've made about our trip you can find them here:

I'll also have this link on the sidebar of my doggie blog.

October 22, 2012

Beach dogs

How time flies! Three weeks since our first day of cruising. Gin and Vanilla have become a great pair of sea-dogs! They got their sea legs faster than I and have adapted amazingly quickly! I wrote to a friend earlier this week how surprised and happy I’ve been about them adapting so well. I think I knew it deep down that they would.  After all I did have the experience already once when I flew from Finland with Vanilla and her life totally changed. This time she didn’t even have to change her ”house”. And stuff still works pretty much the same for her except for the fact that the home keeps moving. But I always worry, a day does not go by in my life when I don’t think about the dogs one way or the other.  I’m sure a lot of people who have lost their hearts to these furry little creatures would agree with me. They are like kids in a way. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I worry for their well-being much more than of my own. It just makes me so incredibly happy to see them happy.

One particular day during these past couple weeks makes me smile more than anything. This was our first day in Morro Bay. It was a warm, sunny day and after being on the ocean over night we were all feeling a little tired and just kind of off. A day at the beach sounded perfect! On our way in the night before we had spotted this beach right next to the entrance to the marina. It was a long peninsula that ended there and started probably 10 miles south. It was basically an island since the only access was from that other end and there was even a state park in between. We took our dinghy there and there was this stretch of empty beach that was maybe a mile long, then there was a seawall and behind that stretched out the rest of the 10-mile beach. There was no one there. Just us, the dogs and the birds. The dogs were so impatient, they almost fell off the dinghy when we were landing on the beach! They wanted to go so bad! And when we got to the beach I took their leashes and collars off and turned them loose. I couldn’t imagine any scene that would make me happier. Gin immediately ran into the ocean, laid down into the water and stretched her hind legs back and crawled and rolled and did every single little happy noise that a dog could. And Vanilla. Well she did her favorite thing. She ran. She ran as fast as she could, ears tucked back and head low to go even a little faster than normal, all the way to the other side a mile away. She was only a little dot in the horizon. She turned back and in a total of probably 30 seconds was back at my side! She looked at me her tongue hanging half way down to the ground, ears floppy as if to say ”Look at me, did you see how fast I was?”. And then she turned on her heals and ran back and forth a couple more times while me and Cody slowly made our way down the beach. I bet she ran more than 15 miles that day, which makes my 2 miles sound extremely pathetic. And half of the time she was running in the water or jumping over waves that caught her. When she got hot she swam a little and a few times a breaking wave went over her head and she was fully buried in the water but she didn’t mind. What a crazy little pup!

In between her running session Vanilla made sure she was as close to me as possible. She also made sure that I wouldn’t get bored. First she brought me a stick she found on the beach, so I trained with her a little bit. I was working on her stay but it turned out a little difficult after Gin figured out our little play and wanted to come along! So both were doing sit-stays and downs but neither one wanted to stay the second the stick was flying because of the competition, so I eventually gave up and just decided to work on separate release keys for the dogs to make it easier in the future. After Vanilla noticed that we were not training anymore she decided to bury the stick in the sand. And what an industrious little ant she was, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such determination in digging a hole before. It was fast, efficient, focused . . . And Gin was doing her part of the hole digging as well, except that her goal was to dig the sand from under my butt as much as possible. So funny! After a couple of hours they started to look for shade in the dunes and dig holes for a whole other purpose, to dig out the cooler sand underneath. Oh yes, I wasn’t bored one bit! Traveling with dogs really is a treat! It’s amazing how they can make your time so much more fun with the little things they do.

We’ve really had a good time, and dogs seem to enjoy the traveling, they’re as excited as us whenever we pull in a new anchorage and ready to explore! Most of the time while sailing Vanilla cuddles in the cockpit with me and Cody enjoying the closeness and Gin keeps watch at her spot in the front. She has developed some “good” guard dog skills by barking at every single sea lion, dolphin, cargo ship, boat or dinghy that happens to pass our boat! She runs around the deck keeping the funniest whiny noise when the dolphins are swimming around and when nothing is going on she will keep watch as a shark! Pointy ears fully up eyes screening the horizon! You can be sure that anyone or anything will be spotted. The better for me, I don’t have to look for sea life myself, I’ll just wait for Gin to alert me!

October 7, 2012

First Day of Cruising

We started off after a relaxing yet exciting morning of getting ourselves ready for action. We took one last walk around the marina with our labradoodle buddy Dexter and made sure everything was good to go. We motored out and it was so hot and calm there was basicly no way for us to sail. Well, the more enjoyable first day for all of us.

As we glided through the water towards our first stop, Angel Island, the doggies were in total relaxation. Vanilla was sleeping half hanging off the running rigging and Gin was at her usual spot in front of the boat screening the horizon. After our first hours of absolutely nothing happening, I gave them bones to chew and boy that was welcomed!

While cruising along, me and Cody had a conversation that ended up us deciding to only stop long enough at Angel Island to let the dogs do their business and film our first interviews with the city in the background. We were gonna head to the Ocean! I'm sure the black n' whites thought we were gonna stay there, that's how intently they were watching us moving the dinghy on the front of the boat from its spot hanging off the davots. Poor things were hoping for a dinghy ride, their favorite thing! There was much surprise when we took off again heading for the Gate while watching the sunset.

Throughout the night I was a little sick, not anything bad but just not at my best. The dogs seemed to do well though. Gin was occupying a spot on the side of the boat until after one big wave she wanted to go to the very front and climb on a sailbag! Not the best idea in the middle of the San Francisco bar at night! That decision ended her lovely night of just hanging out to being tied up to the cockpit.Vanilla on the other hand made the best possible decision of just staying in the cockpit in the first place next to us being petted 24/7. One sneaky little dog! I think she actually enjoyed it! Even Cody said he bonded with her on a nightwatch when she was cuddling with him under a blanket :)

My biggest concern on our first (and unexpected) overnighter was how Vanilla and Gin would manage to go on their business. Finally in the early morning hours Vanilla did her dues. And she didn't even look concerned about it even though it took a couple tries with the boat moving and bouncing. Gin took a couple more hours but finally I guess the situation became overwhelming and she went on the boat as well. I was so happy! Especially after Gin went, I knew Vanilla was going to be easier! I'm thinking of making it easier by buying one of those puppy paddies from the pet store next time we do groceries and see if that would make it even better for the doggies.

So far so good. In Monterey we took our time enjoying the beach! What fun!

September 24, 2012

Goodbye Freilance

Last Thursday and Friday I had my last lessons at Freilance dog sports. What sad days! I have been taking lessons from Sharon regularly for a little over a year now, and it made all the difference in my life! It was THE thing I waited for every week! Having this community and these special people to train with really helped me adapt to my new life that is so very different from what I'm used to. I think, in part, the dog training made the connection between past and present life. For a long time, you see, I felt like I had life A in Finland being person A, and then I moved to life B being a person B. It's actually hard to explain why I felt so disconnected with my past at first. Now on the other hand, my life feels like my life and I feel like me. Like I said, partly thanks to agility training! That is the one thing I've done both in Finland and here, with the same dog, using the same language. And it's been wonderful! Sharon filled all my expectations! She is accurate, technical, knowledgeable and just all in all an amazing trainer!

During the past week Vanilla has really made good progress. It really makes a difference when you train twice a week plus weekend competition! Also, we had no problems with the teeter.. Sharon said it's most likely just difference in the equipment. I'm sure that also if  I'm less nervous and remember to tell her to slow down in time we'll get over our little teeter problem. Next thing we need to practice with her is staying on the contact even when I run way past. I've been doing the running past a little bit, but obviously not far enough. When I go further than 15 feet she gets off! (Note to self: when running by and she stays, throw the toy past her/close to her and then release, throwing itself is not the release!) I need to start practicing those contacts somehow. It's going to be a little tricky while cruising, but Sharon and I talked about using the ramps that go down on the docks in different marinas or basicly anything that would resemble a sloping down contact. I've tried it in Benicia, but since we also walk the same ramps constantly for other reasons it's hard to get Vanilla to do it only occasionally. But while cruising I guess we are going to change locations frequently so maybe I can just practice that in every marina, every time I take her in/out. I also need to practice more lateral distance with all obstacles. Obstacle discrimination seems to have gotten better and better and my handling at difficult courses with lots of turns; I can actually keep up with the dog! Rear crosses are getting better, but I need more practice on an individual obstacle while turning left. That's definitely Vanilla's 'bad side'.

Having to leave this place and these people makes me sad. But I feel very fortunate and happy to have had the opportunity to get to know everyone and be a part of this "dog-community". I will keep my lessons in mind when training Vanilla and I will definitely continue agility after our cruise (or even during if at all possible). So this is not the last you've seen about our agility career! I'm actually really excited to try to figure out how to do dog training while sailing or at achor or on some desolate beach somewhere south... Hmm.

September 18, 2012

First AKC Agility Trials!

Well I wouldn't say it was quite a success but it wasn't a waste of money either! We (at least Vanilla) had fun, got a lot of experience, and some good runs whether or not we qualified. First day I was a nervous wreck and could hardly communicate, thankfully my husband was taking care of all the necessities and I could just focus on focusing :). I survived though, and Vanilla ofcourse was perfectly herself, maybe a little bit more yappy. First run was a standard course, pretty nice otherwise but had a rear cross in the end that I dreaded. I thought our problems would be weaves and/or the rear cross or me forgetting the course, or Vanilla jumping the A-frame. Well. Not quite. Instead of any of these mistakes (these all went nicely), Vanilla ran through the teeter (for the first time in ages), then I forgot to wait for the go on the table (what an idiot!), and then I didn't get Vanilla in the tunnel on the first attempt: I turned towards the next obstacle too early, Vanilla caught it and pulled away from the tunnel. So there we go.

I was hoping for a little more success on the jumpers course, but I was babysitting Vanilla's weaves (2.nd obstacle) by stepping in and Vanilla pushed away and entered incorrectly. Well, another try and everything went well, only thing was that while redoing the weaves I blacked out on the course and ofcourse didn't find the right obstacle. After recovering we did the rest of the course beautifully and a lot of people commented how fast Vanilla was.

I was convinced that the second day would go better. Now I knew that Vanilla could do it, that I could do it, I wasn't quite as nervous, even though I still had shaky hands. We went on the standard course me having decided that this time the teeter will go well and I will wait on the table for the judge. The waiting part did go well ofcourse, but this time Vanilla did the thing I expected the first day -> ran so fast that she couldn't stop on the table. After that we also had problems entering the weaves again and she ran full speed through the teeter!! I just couldn't believe it. And I even told her more firmly this time to slow down. Ah, I guess it was my speed that made her run faster, I should have slowed down more myself, both for the table and the teeter.

Good parts were the nice contacts on dog walk and A-frame again today! We've definitely made progress on that part during the last year! She looked really good!

The last course of the weekend was the second Jumpers with weaves- course (JWW) and that went awesome! I even did two rear crosses, both to the easier and the harder side, Vanilla was watching me so well! I remembered the course and was running full speed towards the goal and then.... Vanilla dropped the second to last bar.. argh :) But she did SO well, I should've ran a little slower I guess. Maybe next time I can handle myself a little better, I'm sure most (if not all) our mistakes are due to my own errors in handling! Looking forward to our next time in the agility ring!

September 14, 2012

"Stop? What do you mean stop?" -Vanilla

Both today and yesterday I had agility lessons with Vanilla. This week our training has concentrated on lateral distance, weavepole entries and the basic 'how to cue your dog right when running the course'. Vanilla is getting really good about me going further away at the start (and she hasn't run the start line once in several weeks). We have been even practicing some obstacle discrimination with a dog walk as a 3rd obstacle on the course with a tunnel right next to it and me standing a little further back. Slowly we have been able to get more distance and still get the right obstacle.

I'm getting more lateral distance on jumps, tunnels etc. but I we still have problems with the contact obstacles. When I run past, she mostly takes the contacts really nicely, especially on the dog walk, but for some reason if I run lateral and not past her, she won't get on the contact straight or lies down before her two front paws are on the dirt (our goal is 2 on- 2 off). She does TAKE the contact though, which is really good, but I've quickly adopted the meticulous standards of my trainer Sharon and can't stand those little technical inaccuracies. Right now I feel the best thing to do would be to just go and practice those individual things by themselves before adding more difficulty to the courses we're running. Of course today we were running courses with a little more advanced dogs and that may have made me feel more this way. On the other hand I should be proud of Vanilla, she did really well and blended in nicely with the rest of the group. Oh how nice it would be if she worked this well every time.

We had trouble getting Vanilla to finish weavepoles yesterday towards a dark corner of the course and decided to reinforce already at pole 8-9 on the opposite side of the poles from where I was at. Did that a couple of times yesterday and today we had really nice weavepoles on that same spot. I should later on also keep in mind that the "placement of reward changes the behavior" as Sharon repeats over and over. So where ever I decide to reward Vanilla is what I'm reinforcing. And in our case on the weavepoles we should practice me running ahead and throwing the reward back into the weavepoles (using a release word there would also be a good idea).

Yesterday I also surprisingly had trouble on the A-frame contact. Vanilla was just running through. We practiced it a couple times yesterday after the lesson and seemed to have corrected the mistake, but today same happened again. Weird thing is that the contact has been really good, and still was really good on both dog walk and the teeter. So more A-frame practice I assume. She seems to be coming down with such a speed that even when she tries to stop she can't quite make herself stop in time. Good thing is that she tries and she hasn't jumped the contact.

Today we had a couple really hard courses with a lot of turns so handling became really important and that you are going towards the right jumps at the right time, and doing your front crosses at the right time. And not just going toward the right obstacle but the right stanchion of the right obstacle without being on the dogs path. We seemed to be doing really good on this considering our level so I'm really happy with where we are with this.

One more thing that needs some practice is our table. In Finland this obstacle was often just ignored, it was used in trials very seldom, so I have never really done the good basic training on that -> resulting in a pretty nice "fly over the table" by Vanilla. Not that she doesn't want to stop.. she's just going way too fast. If I slow her down before the table she might lie down before the table... well. My game plan now is to get some target practice under our belt and train her to stay even when I run past. I'm sure this is not one of our biggest problems.

Anyway, today I'm feeling really good about our cooperation with Vanilla and I'm looking forward to try out our skills at the trial tomorrow and Sunday. I'll keep you posted!

September 12, 2012

Agility, agility... I mean.. cruising, cruising :)

More than once this year I have thought about agility. The training has been wonderful and ever more addictive. Our plans for cruising have formed and I have only about a month left of "normal life" with my dogs. This has made me almost panic about losing my weekly lessons and practices. Not to mention all the people who have made my agility training such a fantastic experience. Don't get me wrong though, I'm SO excited about our plans to see the world, and what makes it even better, our black n' whites are coming with us. It's going to be a family cruise, a dog family cruise :).

I hope to achieve in agility what I made my goal so long ago. To enter my first competition in the United States before heading into new adventures. Speaking of which, my firts entry is going to be at the Sir Francis Drake Kennel Club trial in Vallejo this coming weekend. So exciting!! I really hope everything goes well. Vanilla and I have been doing some pretty good runs at practice but as everyone knows, trial situation can be totally different. I am feeling really good about the issues we previously had with weavepoles and contacts. She has been improving with her contacts tremendously and hardly ever misses the stop. It sure was a good thing we started from scratch and really taught the whole thing all over again. Also weavepole entries have been improving and she is now more independent. We still have tons of work to do on that part though. I'm slowly trying to get more ahead or be more behind and get lateral distance and front and rear crosses.It is a slow road but I can already see how practice is paying off. I'm so proud of little Vanilla. She is as fast as ever, as focused as ever and probably loves agility more than ever :).

This said I'm probably going to have more to say on agility front these following couple of days since I'll be practicing every day before trialing both next Saturday and Sunday. After this I'm going to go for a few more practice sessions before we leave. Then the following months I'm going to concentrate on different kinds of dog things, namely, how to cruise with dogs. I have a plan of water rescue training sessions for both Vanilla and Gin and a set of tricks I will teach while on the boat/sailing when other activities are more limited. We are also going to concentrate on exploring and hiking/camping and maybe visiting local dog training clubs for a random class here and there along the way. I'm sure the dogs are going to be the opposite of bored. Of course they also need to perform they active duties as guard dogs. Vanilla being noisy, and Gin looking scary is a pretty good combo :) Except in this photo:

January 21, 2012

Cruising and how it affects my black and white's

January 21st 2012

I've had a blog silence for a long time, adapting slowly but surely to our new lifestyle and enjoying little things in life while traveling and seeing the country more than I thought would be possible in one year. My puppies being one key part of that everyday journey. They have been doing great, we started regular agility lessons in a new place with Vanilla last fall, and she has made astonishing progress! Our problems with weaving poles and contact obstacles are almost just a forgotten memory! Thanks to Sharon who has been a fantastic teacher! Gin and Vanilla have also had time to take a little break from California boat life and go for a ranch-vacation in Wallowa, Oregon during Christmas. I'm sure they were a pain in the butt for my in-laws barking, jumping and doing whatever they pleased but I really appreciate the effort! And thankfully they know EXACTLY what to do with these two having two black&white's of their own. I'm sure Gin and Vanilla were not ready to come home yet. What could beat running in the fields chasing and digging out all the little creatures...

I have to say for myself though that all the traveling we've been doing lately has made me miss the boat more than ever. Last Winter I wasn't sure if I'd ever miss the boat! It was more like the feeling of "when can I go and visit Finland" that occupied my mind more than once. Or just any house anywhere... Now we've made so many improvements that it feels like a different boat alltogether. We installed a diesel heater that keeps the boat warm and cozy even during the coldest and rainiest nights! You can hear the wind howling and banging the halyards against the mast and rain pouring down the decks and a little leak here and there inside but being warm makes all the difference in the world! We also installed solar panels to create our own electricity while out and about. Or whenever we feel like being off the grid. I guess our goal is to not really rely on the grid anymore. We get enough energy to live a normal life from the solar. Which really is a dream come true when you think about it. I've always wanted to live sustainably and now I'm closer to that than I thought I could ever be. Creating our own energy, having water for several months, food and propaine for cooking for at least a half a year. Fuel for the engine for a radius of almost 2000 miles, which in our case is even more since the main way to move is with the wind and sails! All in all we're pretty set up for a full cruising life!

Our plans definitely include a bigger cruise at some point of our lives and maybe a few shorter ones in the near future. This is a dream that probably every human being has at some point of their lives. Who wouldn't want to think about sailing to the sunset and anchoring in front of a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean or South Pacific? I definitely had those dreams already as a kid but never really though about them before I met my husband. Now they are more than reality and with that realization has come a set of concerns as well. The biggest ones being about jobs and support, taking the time, having the money... but also a set of smaller more practical set of problems. The biggest concern to me personally (and my husband would most likely disagree big time) being the dogs. The dogs. So as anyone who knows me at all, knows the dogs are pretty much the priority of my life. I think about dogs constantly. Whether it's if they need some attention, feeding, brushing petting or just a small walk to bigger things like training, competing and breeding Border Collies. I miss them dearly when I'm away and like I read from somewhere "Life without dogs is like a long journey without a place to stay for the night".

So the thing that I've been pondering ever since we first thought about cruising, was if I could take my dogs with me. How would it affect them? How hard would it be to take them to different countries, if even possible? How would they survive on a longer ocean passage? Would it be selfish of me to take them just because I love them so much that I can't leave them behind? And then on the other hand. How would it affect me? How would I feel being separated from my dogs for a long time? Would I be able to import the dogs to the location we end up afterwards? Would I enjoy the passages more or less with dogs with me? Or maybe in my case, would it be unbearable to be without them? How hard would it be to explore other countries if the dogs were with us? And, if I had to leave them, where could I leave them at?

It's a daunting amount of hard questions. And considering that I've been asking these questions for a year and a half now.. One thing I've done since has been to try and read and get as much information as possible. This past Christmas I also got my hands onto a book that was about cruising with dogs. Right now things are looking a little brighter because of that I guess. I've learned that people do it, it's possible and even the amount of paperwork is not that impossible. Vanilla pretty much has all the necessary paperwork anyway, including a microchip, registration papers, all possible vaccinations and documents that you can think of. Good thing I had to go through importing her to the U.S. Ofcourse everything is going to need updating. Gin on the other hand doesn't even have a chip. So with her we would have to go through a bunch of stuff to get her ready to go.

I guess the whole dog thing also depends on where we want to cruise to. If we are planning on staying fairly close to the shore and not go to say Hawaii, we could stop and anchor every night if we had to and that way the dogs would definitely be able to get enough of exercise and new places to explore. Like me. I don't particularly look forward to staying on the boat day in day out for several days or weeks, I need exercise and stimulation myself. And I'm sure if you'd ask Vanilla she wouldn't mind sailing for a few days before getting to an excluded beach somewhere to run at. The Mexico trip we did this past Christmas showed me that there is SO many places to go and acnhor and everytime I though how much my dogs would love it. Like this one time we anchored at a bay that had an 11 mile beach and only two tiny mexican huts on the other end of it. It would've been perfect.

Most countries seem to be, at least according to the books that I've been reading, pretty good at accepting pets. Even some islands at the Caribbean and South Pacific let you bring your pet even though I have to admit that especially at south pacific there are several islands that don't allow any type of pets at all, and then we wouldn have to plan our trip very carefully. But if we cruise to say to Florida through Central America the dogs might be able to accompany us fairly easily. Now we just need to decide where we are going first, do we want to bring them, and if we are gonna take a dog are we taking them both? For myself the decision would be pretty clear. I want my dogs with me. I'm not sure if I'm able to leave another one behind after leaving Dani to Finland. Even though Dani is still doing really well, I loved spending time with him last summer and loved seeing how happy he was to return to his new home. I just got some new photos of him and he is probably the most adorable thing ever!!

I think the main challenge for me now is to start figuring out how exactly am I going to do it. Good advise is more than welcome :)

Goodnight and Happy New Year 2012 to everyone!