Knowing you, knowing me!

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!

A new crew aboard our sailboat.

About BooBee.

She (yes she’s a girl) was 2.5 years old when we first laid eyes on her. She was rescued as part of an abandoned litter, in a drain somewhere in Singapore, we were told. She had been at the pound ever since. The only world she had known was the pound.

Never seen the sea before let alone been in a boat, and there we were bringing her onto our floating home.

She was led on a leash towards the boat. Everything was new and bewildering to her but you can see the excitement in her eyes at being allowed to explore this strange new world.

I carried her over the water onto the transom steps then down the companionway steps into Micasa (the name of our boat). That was the moment she first set foot (paw) on Micasa. Then I realised that she had never climbed a flight of stairs in her life before. I tried teaching her how we humans would climb a flight of stairs. One foot (paw) at a time on each advancing step! It was a hard act to follow. She indicated that she wanted to be in the cockpit by repeatedly glancing up into the cockpit from the saloon aisle. So I carried her up there where she sat, nervously looking around at the idle world outside. She remained there for next few hours. I was never far from her all those while not knowing what her reaction would be in such a foreign world to her. A neighbour sailor happened to walk past Micasa during that time and she looked on nervously at the burly man walking by and grawled at him despite her timid demeanor. That was the moment that I realised she had accepted Micasa to be her new home.

She hardly ate during her first couple of days on the boat. I was afraid that she would starve and tried to get more insight into what she would normally eat at the pound. She was already a malnourished dog. Ribs clearly visible through her thin layer of coat. A glance at her conjured up images of famine ridden Ethiopians that I’ve seen on the news years ago. Her head a little disproportionately larger then her angular torso lined by corrugating outlines of her ribs on the sides. A sad sight indeed!

On the second day she started drinking and eating a little, much to my relief but still way too little to even sustain her little body. She’s a medium size dog and weighed a megre 11 kgs.

She’s not a very food motivated dog I was told by the pound owner. True enough to my observations. She would love going for walks around the marina shores. Never too many walks in a day and she would be like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the scents from the ground during her walks. Passers-by would look at her and commented to me that she was very thin with an accusatory look which suggested that I have been starving my dog. Something had to be done fast! I wasn’t use to that.

BooBee (she had been responding to her new name on her second day with us) was a choosey eater. She does not eat Kibble (dried dog food) but only rice mixed with meat, mixed evenly into it. I discovered too that she liked the taste of butter, so along with each bowl of her meal I would mix in a large tablespoonful of butter. She seemed to like eating that and that should improve her malnourished condition rather quickly as well! I finally stopped this practice after a full two weeks of energy rich diet. Her body condition had improved vastly during that period. The corrugation of ribs down her sides were shallower and much less pronounced. Looking at her then compared to pictures taken when she first came on board gave me reasons to be contented that I’ve done a reasonable job of looking after her. She still drew comment about being lean. She has a silhouette of a greyhound with a high hanging tummy. Sexy waist line, the Admiral would comment!

Oh, and the flight of stairs at the companionway – out of the 5 steps she would only use the middle (3rd step). She would leap from the saloon aisle floor and bounce through the 3rd step on her way through the small companionway doors. So much for teaching her how we humans would walk a flight of stairs! Now she’s a blur of vision both going up or coming down from the cockpit.

More on our lives crossing path with BooBee’s – forth coming!

Me and you and a dog named Boobee!

BooBee, my sailor dog standing guard at the companionway door.

Who am I?

My name is Benedict Chin. A Malaysian by birth and for the last 24 years I have been calling the little city state of Singapore, home. I have been working in a corporate environment for more than 20 of those years. I was an executive director in a multi-national company for almost the last entire decade until a restructuring, which saw my retrenchment. That was almost 3 years ago.

And what did I do to help cope with something that drastic? Well, I bought a boat and moved from my high rise apartment to live on the boat with my partner in life (let’s just call her “The Admiral”) I will come back to the “why” in future writings but for now it will be too much details and too far a deviation from the core of our journey towards being sailors. Some journey it was as I was a typical corporate executive who was better at delivering presentation at senior management meeting than say topping up the water tanks on the boat or heavens forbid, berthing (parking) the boat alongside a marina finger pontoon.

BooBee the sailor dog (to be)!

It wasn’t until a few months after we have moved onto the boat that the thoughts of getting a dog to share in our adventures, entered our minds. Some criteria were eventually decided upon before we even started looking for a dog. The dog should not be a big dog as there is limited space on the boat. Our floating home is a 2003 Jeanneau 43 DS (a 43 foot sailboat). It has, I would guess, around 500 sq ft of living space. It would be less that the floor area of a 40 ft container. The width would be more or less the same as the container but the smaller and more pointed extremities at both ends make it much lesser a floor area than a 40 ft container.

The dog will have to serve some functions as a guard dog as well hence it shouldn’t be too small. Size does matter to some extent when it comes to a matter of deterrence. The thought of an “instant” adult dog through adoption was rather appealing as well.

So we went looking at the dog pounds for rescued dog to adopt. After a few days, spread over a couple of weekends we would have seen quite a few dogs but none came through as hot favorites. Oh, there was one which almost made it to this list however, she was adopted before we actually got to see her in the flesh.

At the last dog pound which we visited, we came across a skinny looking mongrel (a female) which warmed up to us by jumping up on me. In retrospect, I think she chose us rather than we chose her. Over the following week there was quite a bit of WhatApps messages going back and forth with the pound owner for information on “Bopit”! Yes that was her name. She was 2.5 years old at that point. The following weekend we adopted her.

Before she came to her new floating home, we have decided to call her by a different name. One that sounds a little similar to her existing name but a little easier off the tongue. “Bopit” has a hard edge to it so something a little rounder sounding like “Booby” may be better. So the name “BooBee” came to be.

Introduction : this blog is a real adventure in life involving my sailor dog and I, and the sea!

Someone once said that it is the things that we did not do rather than the things we have done that we will regret most, towards the end!

This is a real life account of BooBee’s journey from a pound dog to a Sailor dog.  At the same time it is also my journey from being a corporate executive to a liveaboard sailor.

There are many parallels between our two journeys and interestingly enough both our journeys took place at the same time.

Past lives :

Pound dog : Wake up in a pen amidst the mayhem of a hundred dogs (each in their own pen) barking for no apparent reason.

Lunch is the next major event , but there will be a few more hours to kill before that. After lunch comes the major event of the day. She’ll be waiting for her turn to be led outside for a walk, on a leash. At least she’ll get to poo poo on some grass, and sniff around a bit.

After the walk, there will be another few more hours of waiting before dinner. Then it’s lights off. This life is no different from a prison life. Void of nearly all sensories. Hard to imagine how she coped with two and a half years of that before our path crossed.

Corporate guy: Rushed to work in the morning, sloughed through the day then coming home at the end of the day when the sun has gone down many hours before, “tired as a dog!”, just to get a bite to stave off the hunger pains and to rest a bit so that it can all be repeated the following day! 

Always yearning for a bit of an escape when there was time enough to have a perspective glimpse of what life had become!  The feeling of imprisonment was always inevitable.  Sad, miserable and most of the time, rather pointless! 

Like most others, I would put on a brave face and called it a career, a fulfillment of my life’s ambition while playing out my role as a bread winner and provider of a roof over the head!

Both, in a prison matrix of sort, one dreaming of doggie paradise, the other a paradise both at sea and by the seaside.

Both pound dog and the corporate guy are destined for an adventure at sea, living on a floating home together.

This blog is about our lives (Sailor dog and yours truly) on Micasa, our sailboat home. We are liveaboards. Neither one knows much about the sea before that, let along living in the sea, on a floating home and from time to time setting sail towards Islands and land reachable by sea.

If you do not have the time nor the opportunity to seek out your dreams, come and live our adventure through this blog.  It will be updated regularly with real life accounts both from our not too distant past, as well as the present . 

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Happy reading and do remember to live life in the present.