When an owner decides they want to take their dog on board for the season, captains can find themselves inundated with questions ranging from import regulations to medical vaccinations, not to mention interior crew biting their nails thinking about the mess the dog will make to those just-cleaned carpets. But it’s not all bad, and it’s certainly a morale-booster for the crew. With advice from Superyacht Veterinary Service and stories from captains who have done round-the-world trips with canine companions, we take a look at what it’s really like to have pets on board superyachts.
Meet Victor. Victor is a miniature Teddy Bear Poodle, and might just be the luckiest dog in the world. He lives on board Delta Marine’s 66m Invictus and, according to the superyacht’s captain, is the ultimate sea dog. “Victor loves the yacht. He’s a true boat dog,” admits Captain Mauro Barletta. “He’s never been seasick and he actually sleeps better when the boat is moving.”
Victor. Credit: Invictus deckhand Jonathan Zaugh
Victor is one of many dogs that either live on board permanently or spend significant time on board with their owners. Take The Big Blue’s Labrador Retriever Levi and Madame Kate’s eponymously named Bichon Frises Kate and Princess. Having pets – most commonly dogs – on board is a viable option for today’s owners. Yet while it’s the owners who make the decision, it’s the crew, and largely the captains, who are left to consider the logistics.
“Having a dog on board can have a huge impact on crew morale. Of almost all of the boats I know with a dog on board, the crew absolutely love them as if they’re their own dogs, with arguments, albeit lighthearted, about whose cabin the dog sleeps in at night,” recalls Siobhan Brade, director at Superyacht Veterinary Service (SVS). “Recently, a captain told me how a member of his crew was very ill at sea, and the dog scratched at her door for hours until he was allowed in, then stayed by her side until she was better. The captain said the crewmember couldn’t even describe how much of a difference the dog being there made to her.”
"Recently, a captain told me how a member of his crew was very ill at sea, and the dog scratched at her door for hours until he was allowed in, then stayed by her side until she was better." - Siobhan Brade, director, Superyacht Veterinary Service
It is this effect that Victor has on his crew. “Having a dog on board really does affect the crew in a positive way. The crew just love having him on board,” explains Invictus’s captain. “He brings a calming factor to the yacht and is a neutraliser on a stressful day. He helps the crew relax and feel slightly normal in this crazy life that we live by offering the crew the chance to do something simple such as taking him for a walk.”
Find the full article in issue 77 of The Crew Report, out now - download here.
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