Boat Pet Safety: Location, Location, Location
When it comes to pet safety on boats, there are a myriad of topics to be considered, and, usually, we do pretty well. One of the foremost lessons about people or pets aboard is that it is critical to know that everyone is safely aboard. We learned an important lesson this morning to this regard.
The Unexpected Phone Call
Around 11:00 hours, we went down below into our stateroom to have some cuddle time. We had been below for about 30 minutes when Shannon’s phone rang.
Our assistant dockmaster, Brian, was on the line. Shannon sat straight up.
“Oh NO!” she said, the concern was apparent in her voice.
“What’s wrong?” I asked immediately.
“Where is Sagira?” she asked.
Simultaneously, we leaned forward and looked at the two dog beds, finding only Venus.
“She’s on the dock,” Shannon said, “with Brian.”
Jumping from the berth, I threw on some clothes before heading into the cockpit and off of Banjo to the port side finger-pier.
As I rounded the finger-pier to the main dock, I sighed with relief. Sagira came trodding down the dock with Brian close behind, the biggest smile on her face. He was still talking to Shannon on the phone and I could hear him laughing; reassuring Shannon that everything was ok.
Standing motionless, I couldn’t decide if I should be pissed or elated. I opted for elated. Sagira slowed her pace and the smile faded somewhat as she approached, wondering if she was in trouble. Brian explained that she was “just hanging out near the marina office letting everyone pet her.”
“What are you doing silly girl?” I asked.
She did not answer. Instead, her smile returned and her pace quickened once again. Thanking and apologizing to Brian, she and I turned and headed back to Banjo. Sagira went down below and immediately took a nap.
In addition to being “morale officers” aboard SV Banjo, our dogs are family. Shannon and I go to great lengths to address pet safety on the boat and off. We are usually very attentive. Some would say overly so. And we never allow the dogs to go unsupervised aboard, unless the cockpit enclosure is zipped. Even then, we check on them frequently. The dogs are not even allowed to go on deck unless we are present and invite them out.
What Happened This Time
In our cabin, the girls have their dog beds, one of which is in the head. Due to Sagira’s color, its sometimes difficult to make her out in the shadows of the room and against her bed.
On this particular morning, neither of us had noticed that only Venus had come into the stateroom. They are usually attached at the hip. We weren’t paying attention when the cabin door was closed, leaving Sagira in the cockpit alone, with the glass up. She just decided to make the most of this gorgeous day and take a walk.
Lesson Learned And Improvements
We were fortunate in this case that everything turned out ok and that Sagira was safe. Lucky indeed.
We have been planning to buy some lifeline netting that will surround the rails and provide an added measure of pet safety. The thinking is that, with the netting, the dogs would be able to roam a little more freely on deck while we are at the docks. Unfortunately, we just haven’t found the money for netting in our budget quite yet, but this just became a necessity.
Also, our head is dimly lit, which was a contributing factor to failing to notice Sagira was not in the cabin. Researching some solutions to improve the lighting is also on our to-do list.
Shannon and I are always aware and cognizant of pet safety. Fortunately, Sagira returned to Banjo safe and sound and there was no real harm done. The experience plays a reminder that we cannot take anything for granted while cruising, even if only dockside. We learned that always having a consistent muster is critical.