One of the many things to consider when adopting an adult dog is that it will have already developed its own character. A personality that would have been formed without your presence. The dog will not know your likes and dislikes and hopefully the adopted adult dog is sensitive enough to change its habits to suit yours (being the leader of the pack and master of the house or boat)! More likely than not, it will be a compromise by both the adopted adult dog as well as the master of the house (boat).
The two months following BooBee’s arrival on our floating home was basically a time to get to know her, as well as for her to know us. She does have a strong character of her own. She can be just as stubborn as any of us. She needed to be coaxed rather than instructed to do somethings like moving to her side of the bed so that I can sleep on my side. Opps, jumping ahead a little here but I’ll explain how she came to be sleeping on our bed each night, a little later. She does not play fetch likes most dogs do, in fact she does not play with any toys, period. Presumably have grown up in a pound, void of things such as play toys or even a person to play with, she does not play with any object at all. This does not mean that she will not play with us. One of her favourite game is to play “catch” when out for a walk on the marina’s shores. She would shoot pass me running at full bore then turn around to run pass me on the other side. She is a very fast runner, which is probably due to her Grey Hound like build. The sound of her paws striking the ground when running flat out did in fact sounded very similar to the gallop of a horse.
BooBee actually has the intellect of a small child. Like any small child you need to talk to them frequently so that they will start to comprehend and to make sense of language. After about a month of living with us, I was almost frightened by her ability to understand spoken language.
There was this time when I had just put out her cooked meal for her, in the cockpit. At Micasa’s (our boat) helm, the floor immediately behind the large single steering wheel is recessed with 45 degrees slope on either sides of the recess. This, to provide a flat (horizontal) stepping for the person at the helm when the boat is heeling under sail. This recess is perfect for BooBee’s stainless steel dinner bowl. If it moved while she was eating, it will not move far.
BooBee has a habit of eating just a portion of her meal while leaving as much as half of it for later. She has no competition on Micasa. Whatever she left behind for later will be there later! In the initial weeks after her arrival, I was alway anxious for her to finish her food out of fear that she does not eat enough. She is not very food motivated as I was told.
After eating part of her meal she stood at the companionway door looking down at me in the galley, washing up some dishes. By her mannerism (yes, I was getting to know her too) she wanted to go for a walk. I simply turned to her and said “go finish your food and I will take you out later!”. Having done the dishes, I looked up at her, at the companionway door. This time she had a “I’ve been a good girl” look about her. Feeling that I may have missed something, I went up to the cockpit for an inspection. Good God, she went and finished her meal after being told that I would take her out after she finished her meal!
She would eat one big meal a day for dinner. I had tried giving her food in the morning but she would seldom eat more than a bite of it. One of my favourite breakfast is pan fried luncheon meat sandwich along with my coffee. Sometimes, BooBee will look at me while I was pan frying my luncheon meat and licked her mouth indicating that she would like some. I would usually cook a little extra so that she can have her share. At times, she would sniff the piece of pan fried luncheon meat in her dinner bowl and simply walked away. I would get a little upset at that, being brought up never to waste food. I would nag at her, telling her that she (Boobee) should go and eat her luncheon meat after all I took the trouble to prepare a little extra for her. Sometime, my Admiral would chip in as well telling her not to waste food, after all “Daddy” took the trouble to fry them for her. Guess what?!! She would go and eat what was made for her after that!
Friends and neighbours are usually astounded by her ability to understand simple words but not me. I know her ability to comprehend goes far beyond single words. She does have an intellect of a small child (say between 2 to 3 years old) . My Admiral referred to me as “daddy” when talking to BooBee. With each passing day she was more and more our child. In reality, we have accepted her as a part of the family upon making the decision to adopt her.
She is scared stiff of thunder. During a thunderstorm she would not be her normal self. Seeking out confined spaces to hide in or under. If a cabinet door was opened she will try to climb into it.
I, on the other hand, am also scared stiff of lightning. Micasa is full of electrical equipment and navigation electronics. A direct hit by a lightning will destroy all of the above. A very costly affair. To make matters worse, Micasa is a sailboat with an aluminium mast which sticks up some 20 meters into the sky. This is akin to someone holding up a lightning rod in the rain and when out at sea, your sailboat is usually the tallest conductive object for miles around! We are located near the Equator (less than 2 degrees North of the Equator), where thunderstorms, especially during the monsoon (rainy) season, are frequent and violent. Poor BooBee, she would jump up onto the my bed on the slightest distant rumbling of thunder. That was how she now sleeps on our bed. All as a result of a monsoon season. She now thinks the entire bed is hers! I need to coax her to move over to her side of the bed, (from the center) when going to sleep at night.
Pardon me for making everything sounded as normal as a land based home. We have now been liveaboards for almost 3 full years and many things which we initially felt were odd and different are now taken for granted and as normal.
BooBee dislikes water. Whether it’s seawater on which we float or taking a shower. She would go into hiding at the slightest hint of a shower. Usually she needed to carried out onto the pontoon for her weekly shower. There were on two separate occasions that she lost her footing (paws?) when jumping from the pontoon onto the transom steps. Yes she ended up in the water but fortunately I was around to fish her out as quickly as possible. No harm done except she needed a fresh water shower after that.
Do we ever stop learning about each other? The answer is no! Yes, the learning curve was much steeper in the initial couple of months and every now and then BooBee still amazes me by how intelligent she is.
On the next write-up I will be touching on why BooBee became known as the sailor dog.
Some time later I will also be sharing with you on how this was also my journey towards becoming a bona fide sailor myself.
Good night and thank you for tuning in!