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!