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!