Monday, October 26, 2009

Scout gets his sea legs

Scout onboard a boat!On one of our last afternoons on Isla Mujeres, Mexico, we did a boat trip with our friend Ariel and his wife Rosa. I had done one with them and their son Edric earlier in our stay, but this time I was taking Nan, our friend Juan's son Manolo, and our dog Scout. The main reason for the trip was so that I could get some more photos for the cookbook I am working on with Juan and his wife Paula. It was also an opportunity for Nan to see the island from a different vantage point, for Manolo to get out on the water in a boat other than a ferry, which he had never done before, and for us to see how Scout would handle being on a boat.

I'm happy to report that Scout did very well. Ariel beached the boat so that I could hoist Scout aboard without getting him wet, and he settled down right away in a shady spot next to the helm, where he could look over the gunwale at pelicans and passing boats. Scout had been swimming every day, so he must have wondered how it was possible to be out in the water without swimming or getting wet. More likely, he was probably thinking, "What's up with this weird car?" The motion didn't seem to bother him but the heat sure did. He was fine as we motored south down the west coast of the island into the cool prevailing wind. But when we turned around at Punta Sur and headed back north, we lost our breeze, and he started panting, seeking shade, and drinking cold water out of a plastic cup.

Nan and Manolo enjoying the boat tripIf our lives go as planned, we hope to travel extensively in the future, most likely in a sailboat, and we want to take Scout with us whenever possible. So taking Scout with us to Mexico was something of an experiment. We wanted to see how he would do with travel, including flying, being in a different climate, swimming in saltwater, riding in a golf cart, eating foreign-made dog food, being around semi-feral dogs, and riding in a boat. We chose Isla Mujeres because it is a place Nan and I have been to six times in the last eleven years, so getting there and living there are very familiar to us.

We did our homework on transporting animals internationally and thought we had it all worked out, but in addition to the five vaccinations on his official US health certificate, the Mexican authorities wanted proof of preventive treatment for internal and external parasites. Fortunately, we had a receipt from the veterinarian for Frontline (for fleas and ticks) and Heartgard (for heartworms), or we would have needed to pay a vet to come to the airport and examine Scout before he could enter the country. We also made the mistake of taking a small quantity of Mexican-made dry dog food back into the US with us to tide Scout over until we reached home. The customs officer let us through with it but told us it was normally prohibited. Next time, we'll leave a small bag of dog food in the car for the trip home.

In my opinion, the experiment was a success. We did not encounter any obstacles, either in our travel to and from Mexico or in the four weeks we spent there, that had us thinking that we were recklessly endangering Scout's safety or that it had not been worth it to bring him along. That's not to say that Scout wasn't completely thrilled to be home again, because he most definitely was.

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