Mitchell & Tori – All-American mix (dogs)
Name: Jennifer and Mark Ullmann
Boat name: Starlet
Boat model: Nordhavn 46
Years cruising with pet: Five years or 30,000 nautical miles
Funniest moment: Mitchell speaking: In Jacksonville Florida, Mom and Dad were installing the new ceiling in the master stateroom. It was a messy job so they had the door closed. I was having separation anxiety and was clearly not happy. So I barked outside of the door and they ignored me. I found a solution; I marched upstairs and out to the bow of the boat then jumped down the hatch; landing safely on the bed in the middle of the stateroom. Amazingly the five foot drop didn't hurt me and I didn't land on anything other than the bed. It was a stupid thing to do but I got my way at least for the moment. Mom and Dad still laugh at this story today. This won me the title of the Flying Puss.
Scariest moment: Mitchell speaking: We were in a remote area in South Egypt in the Red Sea. I was very sick and Mom was Facebook friends with an Egyptian Vet in Hurghada. She emailed him the symptoms and he emailed the medication. We returned from the remote area earlier than expected to buy me some medication at a pharmacy. I felt much better very quickly.
Tori here: Additionally, in the Red Sea we had two friends join us for diving, again in a remote area. I fell down the stairs in the middle of the night. I heard something scary so I ran down stairs to seek shelter. I must have missed a step; I was in a daze and couldn't stand up for a while. Thankfully in the morning I was my old self again.
Treasured memories: Mitchell speaking: In Cartagena Spain Mom slipped and fell in the water with me in her arms. She was stepping on to Starlet from the dock and her foot slipped on the mat laying on the swim platform. I was in Hospice care and was getting carried on and off the boat. Dad was checking us in to the marina and no one was around to help. Our neighbor's boat had their small water logged dinghy out. Mom lifted me in very quickly and laid me down in the dinghy and then she jumped in too. I was 19 years old and didn't have many days left. Falling in the cold water was a shock to my system but once Mom got in the dinghy with me, we cuddled and warmed each other up. The dock was too high for Mom to lift me without hurting my frail body so we waited twenty minutes for Dad to return. It took all four hands to lift me up. Our body heat keep us warm enough but we were glad to get a nice warm shower and blow dry.
Unexpected/unanticipated difficulties: Mitchell and Tori: In the Bahamas we ran off leash on the beach. We ran far and wide looking for good things to eat. We found kitty fudge, our favorite after chicken. It took them a while to find us and the next few days we were both eliminating sand piles. Thankfully we didn't get sick. We didn't mean to eat sand but we found a treasure trove of fudge.
Mitchell: In Maine we ran off leash and I quickly disappeared. I met some other hikers and followed them for a while. Thirty minutes later I found my Mom and Dad. I wasn't concerned but my Mom sure was very worried about me.
Dad built us a super wide passerelle which we used in Europe all the time. But as we get older we get wobbly so now Dad is keen on carrying us across so we don't fall in to the water.
Unexpected/unanticipated joys: Tori loves to ride on the bow of the dinghy. She has had so many photos taken of her as we dinghy to shore or return to Starlet. Often times we are in cruise ship ports where people are missing their pets at home, so they enjoy petting on our dogs. Especially Tori she really enjoys the attention. Mitchell's focus was on meeting other dogs.
Worst thing about traveling with pets: Pets will limit your touring options. Occasionally we were able to find great long term solutions so we could travel. But normally one of us stays on the boat while the other travels overnight(s).
While in Cascais, we took day trips to Lisbon Portugal on the train several times. We always kept the boat doors open so they go in and out as needed. We never worried about the security of the boat because we had guard dogs that would bark their heads off if anyone approached.
Once we left Tori at a top notch bed and breakfast in Morocco while we had several days in Marrakesh with friends. We were able to see photos on Facebook daily.
While in Greece we left the boat for a day while we went on a day trip to Turkey. Our neighbors keep an eye on the boat and dogs while we were gone.
While in Sicily we had two cruiser friends watch the dogs while we went to the Dolomites for a week of snowboarding.
We did take them snowboarding with us in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain. They had never seen snow so after walking in the snow for the first time they promptly jumped back in the rental car and one of them peed. We needed to check on them every day at lunch time. They would have been happier on the boat. This is when we started looking for assistance.
Best thing about traveling with pets: Beside the constant love they provide. You experience their world through their eyes. We love dolphins but so do the dogs. The dogs always watched them with enthusiasm. Whenever we would see dolphins they knew the word and they knew it was time to run to the bow. They were so excited. It was almost more fun to watch the dogs than watch the dolphins. We also introduced them to piglets, goats, horses, pelicans, and whales.
Advice: Traveling with pets opens a lot of doors and we have met lots of people as a result. They also force us off the boat at times when we would have been content to stay on. When they were younger, we gave them three walks per day. When we were dockside this is easier than on anchor. Part of our boat selection process was finding something that would be safe for the dogs since we regard them as family. Most beach front European restaurants allow dogs so they joined us for dinner many times often times giving us an opportunity to meet new people.
Other: Taking them on their first dinghy ride was terrifying for both dogs. They were both shaking uncontrollably. They soon learned that the dinghy ride meant a walk so they couldn't get in the dinghy fast enough.
We made a potty spot out of fake grass for the bow of the boat. Initially, we covered it with sod. By the time the sod died they were in a habit of going to that area to handle their business. Initially they thought this is where they were supposed to nap.
Thankfully our dogs never suffered from sea sickness.