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silky terrier

Traveling with Pets

There are many ways of traveling with pets. Mine is a tail of sailing on the high seas.

I used to take the boat out a lot in Cornwall when I was in my teens because my Dad taught me to swim, fish and sail. I took this special knowledge and used it to escape from home when I needed a bit of solitary thinking time.

I loved being at sea, it was in my blood. I had read Hemingway, Melville and Woolf and just about everyone else. Nothing moved me more than a spectacular sunset that melted into the sea only to strike the sky with dark silhouettes of the nearby cliffs. I sat in my little boat for hours that crept into ages; I was never really aware of the time.

An Unwanted Companion

Things were pretty perfect like that. As much fun as it was to take my friends and family out in the boat, I preferred it to just be me to be with my own thoughts about life and the future, that is until I met Sawyer, the Labrador.

Like his literary namesake, Sawyer was charming, brave, entertaining, and loyal. But also like said namesake, he was crafty, mischievous, and sometimes you just didn’t understand where his mind was coming from, but he insisted on becoming my best friend.

It happened one day when I had put in to a clear cove so that I could stretch my legs a little bit before heading back home. Out of nowhere, this big, fluffy creature came bounding up to me covering me with kisses. Being a cat person, I tried to turn his doggie affection aside but he kept running around me and leaping up in that characteristic doggie greeting dance. I caved in and give him a bit of lunch and that seemed to settle him down, thanking me with his big, brown, intuitive gaze, I then decided I had to be on my way.

The next time I say Sawyer he was enthusiastic enough to try and climb into my boat several times while I shooed him away. A couple times he did succeed, bringing with him half the tide and lots of shaggy wet fur. Hauling dogs overboard is not really something I have practiced in depth, so I kept having to return to shore and entice him onto the beach, using whatever scraps were left from lunch and a shore-full of twigs. I feared that if he followed me too far then he would be in danger with the tide and I couldn’t see any owner anywhere, despite the obvious indication from his full, shiny coat and happy demeanour that he belonged to someone.

I finally managed to escape, and the sad little fluffy dot on the shore seemed to get smaller and smaller. Something in me felt a little bit sad and even touched that I had made a new friend, and the memory of our meeting stayed with me for days.

Labrador - travelling with pets

Not long after, I sailed around the same region again, not expecting anything particularly out of the ordinary. I was working on an assignment from school that encouraged an analytical reading of Mark Twain’s work, so naturally I had copies of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer beside me to read on the beach. I was well into Tom’s famous fence-painting escapade when all of a sudden the sun disappeared from view and I was smothered in fuzzy wet kisses. It was that dog! By the time I recovered my nerves I was well and truly perturbed and went to sail off again. And just like last time, that dog wanted to try his paw at the helm.

My New First-Mate

I have no idea how long we quarrelled and bantered, but eventually the dog had his way and I decided that it might just be best to let him come with me – surely he would get the idea, grow tired, and want to go back. How I was wrong – after that first trip, I would take Sawyer – who I named that very day – on several wonderful and entertaining excursions around the coast.

I never found out who really owned Sawyer, and was careful not to spend too much time away from his little beach where we first sort of became friends. He became my fellow meditator, a sturdy cushion, an amusing conversationalist and a keen observer, especially of low-flying seagulls. He was my lunch-buddy, always eager to help out with cleaning my cooler bare. And I found that through his patient, kind, and loving eyes, thinking alone wasn’t nearly as poignant as thinking with my animal friend.

That summer we spent a lot of time together, too. He had a good nose for weather and always helped keep me on track for remaining aware of changes in the sea. I liked having him there. But time came when life demanded more urgent projects than sharing the solitude of the sea with a canine, and I had to leave my favourite pastime for a while so that I could focus on my university applications. It all paid off though – I did achieve the enrolment of my first choice and when I shared the good news with Sawyer, he seemed genuinely happy too. When we said our goodbyes, I promised him that I would come back and take him around the coves again, that nothing would ever change.

But things do change. When I returned home on holiday and climbed into my boat with a rush of excitement – whether it was the greater for seeing Sawyer or being on the waves again, I didn't know. I met with sadness when after a few days of going back to the same “meeting point” my beloved first-mate wasn’t there. I guess it made sense; he waited and waited a long-time back for me but got tired and left. I secretly nurtured the notion that some great, universal telepathy that is shared by animals and their people would somehow draw us together, that at the last minute he would come bounding round the rocks and throw his paws in the air as if to clap them with joy. But that time never came. I preferred to think that he had found other friends to keep him smiling and that he was happy.

Then one day, when my heart was resolved and I had accepted that my time with the sea would once again be solo, I went back to Sawyer’s little beach to wrap things up for myself. Just as I turned away to hop aboard, I heard an all-familiar “Woof!” echo on the cliffs behind me. I spun around, hoping that the call belonged to someone who I desperately needed to see. It was Sawyer!

traveling with dogs

Pet friendly travel? If you thought cruising was only for people…

There is one British pet friendly cruise ship that operates the ‘Pets on Deck’ programme, allowing owners to bring their pets on a cruise with them.

pet friendly travel

Sally Grimes' research found dogs, cats and other furry favourites can go on a luxury transatlantic sailing with their owners. Pets onboard the pet friendly cruise ship receive the same pampering as their owners. Boasting spacious pet kennels they have the ultimate luxury pet accommodation! Learn more about traveling with pets.

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