Saturday, March 1, 2014


My Handsome Boy, Spark of Life - February 2014
Red Rock, Red Dog, Los Gatos, Sea of Cortez

Everyone is curious what is like to have a Vizsla onboard. Where does he go to the bathroom? Does he get any exercise? Doesn't he need a backyard? Does he get bored? First of all, we were no strangers to Vizslas and their constant need for attention, exercise, and companionship. I am not a proponent of cruising with dogs, but if you've got one, there is little choice. When I brought Sparky home, I signed up for life. Where I go, Spark goes. At the time we were living on our sailboat in San Francisco Bay, so Spark started his sailing life early. At 8 weeks he moved aboard El Tiburon, got his sea legs and started his potty training so he would be able make overnight passages at Sea.

 Kirayli's Spark of Life, "Sparky"
This was taken in Lynn Martin's (a Great Breeder) 
front yard the day we picked him up.
Settled in his crate with a few toys aboard El Tiburon.
The crate lasted, maybe, a week.
We quickly learned he preferred naps on our bed.
El Tiburon was encased in netting until Sparky got his sea legs.
Darrell and Spark with his very first life vest.
D was a bit embarassed by the powder blue and polk-a-dots,
but the color matched his eyes and as you can see
Spark is adorable!
Spark's first kayak ride. 
He loved it and fell asleep almost immediately.

By 6-months old Spark was a great sea dog. Weekend trips to Sausalito suited him fine. He made friends everywhere he went, including another Vizsla named Tucker, who also hung out on a boat at Schoonmaker Point Marina. Spark learned to eat oysters and to entertain.

Living large in Sausalito.
The boys don their rain gear during one of 
the wettest winters in SF Bay.
By spring we were all ready for warmer waters. His next sailing transition was to venture outside "The Gate" and sail south to Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and down to Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. He did well on the return trip home too. He had passed his "sea trial" with flying colors and was soon ready to take off on the 2010 Baja Ha-Ha with 150 other boats, some crazy enough to cruise with dogs.
In Mexico there is no shortage of beaches for Spark to exercise.

Once we rounded Cabo San Lucas the whole game changed. Warmer weather, warmer water, longer strips of white sand beaches, and plenty of sea life to keep him entertained. Spark loves to watch for jumping manta rays, flying fish, breaching whales, and is especially fond of watching playful dolphins catch waves off El Tiburon's bow. He has even ushered tiny baby turtles from their nests in the sandy beach to safer waters.

I'm just a piece of furniture.
Spark loving the cruising life as we sail along Baja's East Cape.
Spark learned to enjoy quiet anchorages and watch brilliant colored sunsets. Living on a boat has afforded Spark a lot of freedom that many dogs with with traditional backyards don't have. 
Sparky digging his backyard at anchorage in Los Muertos.
 He enjoys every sunset and sunrise.
You must admit that the cruising life agrees with my boy.
Even during 800 mile passages Spark has fun.
Sparky watches as Chris from Manuela cruises by 
en route to Turtle Bay.
Spark knows dinner when he sees it.
Thanks to our crew, Nick, we ate well.
One way we have adjusted to long passages with Sparky is to take crew, so when we encounter rough weather I am free to hold his paw. Actually, he is usually cuddled in my lap, sometimes shaking pitifully. He is a Vizsla, after all. The other accommodation we make for Sparky, is at the end of the sailing season Darrell drives Spark and I north to California. Darrell does the BASH north with all male crew. Everyone is happiest with this arrangement.
First trip ashore after a 24 hour passage. 
Buddy boater, Michael, from Lunatica comes along.

Vizslas are not just hunting dogs, they need a lot of socialization with other dogs, they love to go fast like a race horse, they love a good chase, and they love to swim. Sparky swims almost daily wherever we are, Mexico or in the Lakes Basin in the Sierra. That's true for the 3 of us, we are all water babies.
Spark gets a couple of his needs met in Chamela.
 Many of the islands in the Sea of Cortez are protected, 
which means no dogs on shore, so 
Spark gets exercise by retrieving the ball in the water.
For hours.
Go Sparky Go!
All of us have agreed to return to the Sea of Cortez next year.
In the meantime, Spark will nap with his Boo-Boo Cow as a pillow on "his" bed.
 Another favorite pastime. 
Some things never change. 
At 6-years old, a few white hairs have sprouted on his chiny-chin-chin.
But don't let that fool you, most people think he's still a pup.

It's a dog's life. For all of us.
My handsome boys and me.
Sailors for life.