Welcome to “The Trekker”
Experience stories of Adventure Dogs along with tips on training for your next adventure.
By Chris Wilke
Wildrose Sailor was known to be a hot-rod in the field, but his life on the water was one of a calmer nature. In spring of 2007 we took a weekend cruise with our 3-1/2 years old dog, Wildrose Sailor (FTCh Angus x Meg). He joined us aboard “Over the LINE,” our 35-foot sailboat. We set sail from Municipal Yacht Harbor of New Orleans, bound for the mouth of the Tchefuncta River on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. Our journey was about 30 miles. It takes around 6 hours if wind blows properly.
Sailor grew up aboard small powerboats and by this point in his life had spent many hours on the water. He also had many hours and miles traveling in vehicles but this was his first sail. When thinking of bringing him, we did not hesitate. He always responded
positively to “go” and therefore where we went, he went.
Sailor handled the passage very well. He was happy, calm, and he honored the boundary of the cockpit. As soon as we anchored, Sailor was excited to go ashore and explore; he was ready for his next adventure. I quickly launched the dingy and we motored to the beach.
Over the next few days, we spent hours on the small beach. The beach was set at the mouth of the river, so it was a high traffic area and Sailor enjoyed the action. No trip was complete without a full cooler of our favorite drinks and Sailor with his favorite spot to lie, next to me. We explored in the inflatable dingy and Sailor was relaxed, listening to the calming whisper of the waves. Staying on the boat for four nights, Sailor fell into the routine of this new adventure almost instantly. Lani and I slept in the forward “V Berth” and Sailor slept on his Orvis bed on the cabin floor close to our bed, almost like a big kennel for the three of us.
Sailor stayed calm aboard and was even comfortable being lifted from the deck to the dingy and back again. The same applied to being helped down into the cabin but he soon learned to climb the companionway ladder back up to the cockpit. We were able to embark on many adventures because Sailor was well behaved. He adapted to almost any situation, the perfect adventure companion.
Wildrose Sailor, 12/24/2003-7/25/2018
“May the wind and waves take you where they please”
Every Adventure Dog is equipped with a set of skills that gives them the ability to take on many situations. A few of Sailor’s learned skills include but were not limited to:
Trained to be comfortable being lifted. This is with the dog perpendicular to me, my arms wrapped around all four legs with the dog’s body at chest level. Without a dog steady in your arms, it is hard to lift and load a dog. Adventure situations, and some hunting situations (low tide dock to duck boat), (top of dog trailer picture), require you to lift a dog into position. This is often while your footing is less than ideal.
Airing out aboard a vessel. Having your dog possess the skill to use the bathroom on AstroTurf can make life a lot easier on you and the dog. The best way to teach this is to begin at home with first putting a command to the act of using the bathroom. After the dog understands the command you can place the Astroturf where the dog is conditioned to use the bathroom. Once your dog is proficient at this in a familiar environment, you can then move the Astroturf to new locations.
Teaching borders. The best way to begin boarder training is starting simple by using objects like; carpet to tile, grass to concrete or the boarders of the Kuranda bed. Teaching this will help keep an excited dog confined when sit or place is not convenient, like on a moving boat. “Stay in the cockpit” is just don’t cross the “border” between the cockpit and deck. “Keep your feet off the dingy gunnels (sides of the boat, very unsafe)” is don’t cross the border between the floor and the tube. I have used a piece of line or stick out in the hunting field to stop creeping. For the trip across the lake on a heeling bouncing boat (boats lean when under sail and bounce in waves) Sailor needed to move around a little but still stay in the relative safety of the cockpit. Borders worked perfectly. I use a flat hand held in front of their nose and “no” to designate a border.