Yes! We met people with three golden retrievers on their boat, one with two dogs and a cat on a small sailboat, and many people with one or two pets. If you plan to take your pet on board, please think about the logistics of taking care of them in advance. First, there is “Shore Patrol Doody” and how (and where) they are going to do their business. For cats, it’s pretty straightforward. Just find a place for the litter box that won’t stink up a small enclosed boat.

For dogs, it’s a bit more complex. Some can be trained to use an artificial turf mat on the back of the boat. However, most people we met didn’t find that workable. So, you need to get them to dry ground at least twice a day. This means a dinghy ride if you are at anchor or staying in marinas so you have easy access to land.

Another consideration is age. We know of several Loopers who have older dogs with mobility issues. Think about having to lift and carry your dog on and off the boat, up to docks, down from docks. Also, in some cases, the first patch of grass can be a quarter-mile or more walk down the docks. Having your dog pee or poop on the dock is frowned upon and means you’ll have to carry a water hose to clean up as well! While on the subject, please, if you do bring a pet, pick up after your animal. Finding poop piles in the grass and even on the docks was common. Please be courteous and pick up after your pet!

We would also just take off for a few days to sightsee in an area. If you have pets aboard, this limits your mobility somewhat, as you need to find pet-friendly accommodations and rental vehicles. Also, leaving a pet locked up in a hot boat is the same as locking it up in a hot car, so you’ll have to leave your a/c on and arrange for a fellow boater to feed, water, and walk them.

To enter Canada, you will need a current rabies certificate and a health statement. We crossed into Canada on our Loop 2 with friends who were traveling with their dog. They had all of the paperwork ready and were prepared for the dog to be “viewed”. All the Customs staff wanted to see was the rabies certificate. They never even came out to the boats.

It’s very common to see pets on boats. I would say that 25% of the people we met on the loop had pets aboard. Dogs were most common, cats (popular on sailboats for some reason), and we have even met a parrot or two (mostly on pirate ships).

If you do not travel with a pet, be sure to keep treats handy! We always have a tub of dog cookies (small ones) for a meet and greet as they walk down the docks. We always ask the owner first, as some dogs, especially older ones, have dietary restrictions. We have become VERY popular with the dock dogs, several making regular stops at the side of the boat for their treat!

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