Position: RUFFHOUSING

Having learned during the pandemic that any time spent sitting still leads to acquiring stuff, we spent a good part of last summer offloading Aleta’s excess cargo. Of course, as keen readers know, Marlon was unceremoniously booted off the boat a couple of years ago. Not that we’d describe him as ‘cargo’. More of a heavily documented passenger with fur. And while traveling without Marlon simplified logistics, life became more mundane.

For example, without Marlon’s rough, wet tongue licking our faces in the morning we laze in our berth as late as we like. It didn’t matter how small a patch of your face you left exposed, as soon as the sun’s intensity reached 21.68 lux Marlon would pounce. Only after he disembarked did we discover our morning coffee wasn’t an adequate replacement for doggy slobber.

Fast forward to today. New Mexico’s high desert is about as far from life on the ocean as you can get. The Sandia Mountains’ steep cliffs, wind-smoothed boulders and thorny scrublands are as sepia-brown as the ocean is bluey-green. Living with Carol’s dad Bob in Albuquerque for the past four months has revived some of our earth-bound weaknesses, like online shopping. Fortunately, there’s a garage with cupboards at hand.

Yet, after six weeks on land undistracted by daily sailing adventures, Carol became restless. There were only so many books in the library and knitting kept her fingers occupied for no more than a couple of hours a day. Empirically we know the only way to counterbalance a lack of sailing energy is not retail therapy, but an injection of doggy energy. Together sailing and doggy energies result in a surfeit of fun. If one is missing, then you either need to sail a whole bunch more, or adopt a dog…

RiskY

But life is non-binary. It is not always possible to own a dog and a boat simultaneously. How, then, to introduce doggy energy knowing we will return to Aleta in the summer? We thought about borrowing Marlon for a few months, but that would create a serious doggy energy deficit for Spencer, Tai and Ava. The answer? Well, perhaps the risky middle ground of fostering?

Fostering is not for the faint of heart. The concept is simple: take a dog from the shelter and give it love and attention for a few weeks. Sometimes that means house-training and socialization, but often it’s simply parole for the incarcerated pups. The risk for fosterers is falling in love with their charges and winding up keeping them. In fostering circles, this is known as ‘foster failure’. Many, many people are failed fosterers, and failure is a badge of pride.

Rent

Bodhi-5

Local animal shelters are overflowing. Why? With crazy rent increases around the country, more and more people can’t afford their apartments and must seek less expensive accommodations. Often new places won’t allow pets, especially dogs. As a result, each week hundreds of animals are turned over to city or privately operated shelters.

Thus, with all the confidence and dispassion of a mother hen, Carol signed up as a doggy fosterer with the City of Albuquerque. Once her background check cleared (who knew someone else named Carol Kemble would have a criminal record that long? – ed.), it was down to the shelter for a very specific kind of pup. Given the delicate ages of all those in the house we needed a dog that wasn’t too crazy or too lazy. One able to walk long distances and preferably knew the basics of house-training.

When we adopted Marlon 10+ years ago, Portland’s dog shelters were full of pit bulls, a breed we’d already determined wasn’t a good fit for Aleta. They’re too big and too challenging to take abroad where ‘dangerous’ breeds are often restricted or banned. Here there is a greater variety of adoptable pooches than in any city we’ve ever visited. The shelter introduced us to three dogs:

  • Interspace – Who names a dog Interspace? His nickname was ‘Space’, but that’s not much better. Name aside, Interspace ticked all the boxes. About a year old and weighing 55 pounds, he appeared to be a labrador/Weimaraner mix with big paws. On meeting him, he took an immediate shine to Carol, but was a little more stand-offish with me.
  • Belle – A lab/boxer mix, Belle was a couple years older than Space, and took an instant like to me.
  • Helen – A chubby lab/husky mix who looked much older than the 14 months the shelter claims she is. A sweetie, she just didn’t look like she had the energy for our daily five-mile walks in the wilderness.
A Bigger Boat

Bodhi-2

Needless to say, the decision wasn’t mine. A few days after our introductions, Carol woke up and said she dreamt about adopting Interspace. In her dream he was named ‘Brody’. “What? Like Chief Brody in Jaws?” I asked. “If that’s the case,” I pointed out, “we’re going to need a bigger boat.” She paused, “What about Bodē? Like Bode Miller?” “That’s better,” I said. Looking up how to spell Bodē, I discovered Bodhi, short for bodhisattva, Sanskrit for a person on the path towards enlightenment, or Buddhahood. The die, as they say, was cast.

Bodhi joined our merry band about six weeks ago and has settled in well. He is quiet, engaging, shy with strangers and gaining confidence every day. He looks after all of us and is sensitive to Bob’s tender years. Carol, as you correctly guessed, is well on the way to fostering failure.

Beer

To help socialise the young pup, we’re stopping at every dog-friendly brewery in the region. (Keep an eye out for our full report – only on aleta.life). With his golden eyes and calm attitude, he charms everyone we meet. Finding him a permanent home won’t be a big challenge. In fact, he already has one if we can make it work.

There is still the summer to consider. So if there are any volunteers for a four-month dog-sit out there, please apply directly to Aleta’s first mate. Here are a few photos of Bodhi so you can fall in love, too:

Bodhi Pics

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16 Comments

        1. Tjamks Erin! Changing a dog’s name is a matter of lots of rewards. Since he didn’t have a name before the shelter (he was a stray) it was an easier task. Palm Springs must be like Albuquerque in the summer, so…

  1. Failure of the finest kind. Bohdi is an excellent name.
    I’ve never had trouble renaming dogs I’ve adopted as adults, one as old as ten. They seem to be mostly caught up in 24 hours. It’s hard to be certain, but I think dogs understand their names as the noise you make when you want their attention. It is a meaningful behavior of yours, but it isn’t something they think defines them.
    I’ve also noticed that dog names that are fun to say (and therefore elicit a cheerful emotion in the speaker) get a consistently more positive reaction from the dog. Friends and clients first greeting “Pingo” had an easier time building rapport than when they met “Sgurr.” Though many variables were doubtless in play, I think the growly sound that came from people trying to say his name for the first time was a factor.
    Bohdi has a summer home in Maine if he’d like one.

    Caroline
    1. Thanks Caroline! My Pa believed all dogs should have at least two names. Given how he demands affection, he is now Bodhi Nutmeg (a shout out to [proper] football fans everywhere). We’d love to bring Bodhi for the summer! If I can teach him to sit still on my motorbike it may be possible.

  2. Oh, at least two names. Most dogs I know have three or four. And I’ve got a nutmeg dog, too: Pine Marten (aka Marten, aka Smarty-Marty) is forever threatening to unbalance me while I’m trying to finish kennel duties. Bohdi sounds like an all-around winner.

    Caroline

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