SHALLOW DRAFT
Small Craft Advisor|July - August 2021
When we were kids, we had a cocker spaniel aboard during summer cruises. The dog apparently had a massive bladder, but we kids were happy to row her ashore when nature called. We thought boating with a pet was terrific…but did our folks have a voice in the matter?
MARTY LOKEN

About that time our neighbors set off on a huge adventure, cruising their sloop down the West Coast to Mexico and beyond, taking along their fearless little terrier, who barked incessantly on land but was berserk on the boat. The tiny beast was usually on deck, racing fore and aft with two feet on the rail and the other two somewhere in mid-air, barking non-stop at waves and other perceived enemies. Somewhere far off the coast of Baja, the couple noticed the barking had stopped. After a search down below, they turned back, scanning for a wet little head in the water. At some point they gave up, resuming their southerly course. More than a year later, back home, they were contacted by strangers in Mexico who’d found the little rascal near a remote beach, probably barking. Arrangements were made and the dog was transported to Seattle…ready for another adventure at sea.

My favorite small-boat pal was a blue merle shetland sheepdog named after John Muir’s heroic little dog, Stickeen. He loved boating with his human, dangling over the bow like a hood ornament, sniffing the air excitedly. He rarely barked when afloat and slept soundly on the small boat…just like me. I’m pretty sure his best life experiences were on the water—at least until, at age 13, he met his first herd of sheep.

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