The Tail of our Tailless Sailor Dog

DSCF1560Some readers have been asking about our four-legged crewmember so here is her story and like any good story it starts on Craigslist. While browsing the pet section we came across an advertisement for an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. Jerrad always wanted one of these dogs so we thought what the hell and started the 2hr drive out to Lancaster.
Typical of Craigslist, the previous owners were vague on her history as well as to why they could no longer keep her. What we managed to get was that she was six months old and we would be her third home. This for most would be a red flag, but it didn’t matter. We fell in love with her as she was jumping up and down in the front yard trying to catch the small snowflakes falling from the sky. We were sold.
Gidget proved to be a challenge. She was fierce and unfriendly towards strangers and dogs. The introduction between her and Daisy, our semi-rescued German Shepherd, took two whole weeks. Even though they are now best friends, she is still uneasy around other dogs. Gidget’s rule of human friendship is not very complicated: let me come to you and smell you first, and if everything’s cool, I’ll be your friend. I’ll even be your best friend and love you forever if you have cheese for me.   Basically just adopting Cesar Millan’s “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” rule she can successfully be fast friends with anyone.  We are always apprehensive if someone new walks straight up to Gidget, using their “dog/baby” voice, with eyes fixated and their hand going straight for her head.
Even though she is reserved around strangers, she is a complete goofball with her human friends. She makes us laugh everyday with her silliness. The way she drools as she is waiting forGidgetjump food or a frisbee to be thrown. The way she loves to “sing along” when you play the harmonica. The way she “makes the bed” by pushing the blankets and sheets around with her nose until they are in a huge pile. The way her almost nonexistent tail rapidly flicks back and forth, earning her the nickname “wigglebutt”. And the way she likes to talk to you in a language of strange high-pitched moans and yelps.
Her appetite can only be described as ferocious, with a particular interest of eating things on the “what-foods-you-should-not-give-to-your-dog” list. She has, so far, gobbled up almost a pound of grapes, at least 6 pieces of molding bread and a packet of chocolate chip cookies as well as countless pieces of rubber toys, socks and Ziploc bags. We keep things out of reach but she is a clever dog and full of surprises. She once decided to jump off the deck of our hauled-out boat, 8 feet above ground. I thought I was going to have a heart attack; I was convinced she must have had hurt herself, but when I looked down there she was with a big grin on her face.
If there is one thing she loves more than food, it is the beach. She absolutely loves running and playing fetch in the sand. Although, swimming is a whole different matter. Once, while we were kayaking in Cabo, she jumped out into the water following Jerrad. She instantly realized her mistake. All we saw next was Gidget swimming to shore as fast as she could, with all her might to get to the beach where she can firmly press her paws into the sand she loves. She didn’t even turn her head to see where we were during her beeline to shore. Now, getting her back into the water and onto the kayak was a whole other ordeal.
20121215_074714Some have asked about sailing with a dog. Gidget proves to be very adaptable to all her new surroundings and environment. She enjoys sailing, particularly when there are sea lions around. No, she has never gotten seasick, not even during our rocky ride crossing the Sea of Cortez.  Bathroom business has been a bit more problematic for this sailor dog in training. At first we had a piece of sod on a tray as her designated bathroom spot. This was not good enough for her; she went on a bathroom strike and managed to hold it for as long as 2.5 days until we docked. Even after her strike ended, she stubbornly decided that she would only do her business on board on an only-when-absolutely-necessary basis (which means she still only goes every 1-2 days).  The piece of sod, although sound in principle, turned out to be muddy and slightly disgusting, so we disposed of it.  What we have now is an old rag on the same tray we kept the sod. Other than that, we did not encounter any other problem sailing with her.
Gidget has caught many eyes and much attention on this journey, but the one encounter I will never forget happened the first day we were in Mazatlán. As I was taking her from the dock to a nearby lawn, I heard two guys on a dinghy shouting; I kept walking thinking that there was no way they were talking to me but they then stopped us.  “Is that a female heeler?” one asked with a thick Australian accent. After noticing how beautiful she was, they proceeded to point out that they had, on their boat,“a male heeler looking to have a good time”.  I politely declined on Gidget’s behalf. No gentlemen, she is a classy lady and will not partake in such activities.
As challenging as it is to have a heeler like Gidget, we have never once regretted our decision to adopt her or to bring her with us on this sailing voyage. She is alert and watchful, making her great for security and protection on board. She enjoys being on the boat, with the wind on her face and the scent of the marine life abound. And who knows, maybe over the course of the journey she will enjoy swimming as well.

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