Boating with our Golden Retriever Mac – Boating Journey

Boating  Dogs

Boating dogs are everywhere, but boating with a senior dog is not as easy as you think. When we bought the boat, we just assumed that our 14 year old golden retriever, Mac would love the boat as much as we do. We bought him a life vest and quickly found out on day one that he didn’t even want to get on the boat.

golden retriever life vest dog

There are many books about sailors and their travels with their beloved fur kids. We also knew many of them had challenges traveling long distances with their pets, but that was because they couldn’t go potty on land.  Come to find out, Mac just doesn’t like new environments at his age.

Mac has been healthy his entire life, but when he turned 14 in April 2017 he really began to slow down. Walks could only be on flat surfaces and this is because he has some nerve damage in his spine.  Unfortunately, our boat is about a quarter of a mile from the parking lot.

golden retriever boat dock

Scott and I found out early on, that since the walk is so long, that the dock has become Mac’s potty area. At his age, he poops a lot (TMI) and we always have doggy bags.  We know the importance of dock etiquette and we will use a bucket with water to clean up after him.

Sometimes he makes it all the way to the main land and Elliott Bay Marina is super dog friendly. They have potty stations everywhere and almost all of the dock dogs are super friendly.

golden retriever boating dog

On the boat, Mac makes himself at home, especially when we are docked. He socializes with everyone and of course begs for food.

golden retriever begging for food

golden retriever begging

And the cockpit table is just his height! Nothing gets passed Mac.  There are two harbor seals that used to taunt another dock dog, Chuck. He sadly passed away in July 2017 and now they have been coming down to our dock. Maybe they are looking for Mac?

Day trips with Mac

When we do go out on the water for a day trip, Mac does not like it. Perhaps it’s the movement or the sounds of the engines.  The first time, he jumped up on the cockpit cushions and I was worried he would try to jump out.

senior boating dog

After that, we started putting him down in the cabin for his security.  He finally found refuge in the aft berth.  The first time we put him down there, we didn’t think he would go under there and when he did, he had climbed over the barbecue and cooler to get there! Boating dogs has a cool ring to it, but it’s not Mac that’s for sure.

senior dog aft berth

The tough part for Mac is the steepness of the stairs down to the cabin. He needs help up and down.  He likes to sit in the entry way while I’m prepping food in hopes, I will help him down. But as you know, our galley is so small that there is not room for both of us!

golden retriever senior dog boating

At 14 years old (April 2017) it’s difficult to resist his sweet sugar face and I usually always help him down and work around him.

boating dog sweet golden retriever face

When we are relaxing on the deck, he usually ends of sleeping the entire time.  Notice how much hair is on the carpet! We did buy a Bissell Vacuum and it works great (I will share that info on another post), but we do bring our Dyson vacuum from home every few weeks to really clean the carpet.

sleeping old dog boat

As Mac gets older on the boat

Knowing that Mac doesn’t like to travel in the boat, we leave him with a sitter when we stay overnight outside of Elliott Bay. We know he doesn’t have much time left with us due to his declining health and we want to make sure that every moment he’s on the boat, he’s happy and comfortable.

Scott and I had another golden retriever, Maggie and we said goodbye to her Memorial Day weekend in 2014.  We just are not ready to say goodbye to Mac quite yet, but we also will make sure that we are not selfish this time. Maggie lived about six months too long. Mac deserves nothing but love and comfort in his final months and we will make sure of that.

Cheers,  Scott, Ally and Mac

golden retriever boat owners




2 Replies to “Boating with our Golden Retriever Mac – Boating Journey”

  1. Hey, you two! Your new adventure is great! We’re so happy for all three of you. Did we tell you we’d been boating since we were married many years ago? Started out with sail but in 2008 when we decided we needed to include Ak in our travels we went to power. Have had 2 boat dogs but currently without a pooch. New one coming next month! We spend every summer aboard in BC so let us know if you have any questions about where to go etc. Would love to “talk boat!”

    1. Thanks Lynn! Yes, would love to talk “boat” with you both. We’ll have to figure out a time to come visit you on the island. Can’t wait to hear about your new boat! Be sure to email me the details 😉

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