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Commentary—Pets On Deck

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Hot tips for bringing your dog—such as Fiona (above) owned by Bob Mathers—for cat on board your boat.

The first time I read a story about dog and cats on powerboats—I think it was in Boating magazine in the late 1990s—I thought it was inane. Who, after all, would even consider bringing a pet on board a powerboat? (Folks who owned sailboats, of course, were another matter.)

Two things worth keeping in mind: First, thanks to a younger brother who was severely allergic to fur, I never had a dog or cat as a kid. So I am not by nature or nurture a pet lover. Second, in the late 1990s I was working at Powerboat magazine. We were big, bad macho guys testing high-performance catamarans and V-bottoms. The very notion of someone bringing a pet on board the kind of boats we ran seemed far-fetched, if not outright crazy. And, well, more than a little unmanly.

I held onto that erroneous belief—go-fast boats and pets do not and should not mix—until November 2016 when a member of the Speedonthewater Facebook page group posted a photo of his dog on board his powerboat. That inspired Jason Johnson, my speedonthewater.com co-publisher, and I to run a photo challenge on the page in which we asked members of the group to send us photos of pets on their boats. And the response was amazing. (We even ran a photo gallery/slideshow on speedonthewater.com called “Water Dogs.”)

That’s why when an email from FB Marine Group, a full-service new and pre-owned powerboat dealership in South Florida, landed in my email box with “Boating with Pets: Are You Prepared For Your Pet’s First Ride?” in the subject line yesterday, I didn’t just delete it. Based on somewhat recent experience, I know there’s interest in the subject.

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