Category Archives: Boat Dog

Mexico to Panama With a Dog

A little over a year ago India, Rover and I decided to go to Central America and the Caribbean (Ryan was on a four-week stint away for work at the time. India, Rover and I were in La Paz) I told India we could go west to the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia but we would have to find a new home for Rover; while it is possible to take a dog to the South Pacific and beyond, it can be prohibitively expensive and there are some lengthy quarantines involved. On the other hand, if we decided to head to Central America and the Caribbean we could keep Rover as those areas are much more welcoming to traveling pets. Much to Ryan’s dismay and Rover’s satisfaction, we chose to keep the dog and head east.

So far, we have entered Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama with Rover. To date, we have never been asked for his paperwork.



  • Our entry into Mexico by boat was with the 2016 Baja Ha-ha. One of the advantages of signing up for this rally is getting to clear into Mexico in Cabo with a lot of other boats. We anchored out, turned in our paperwork ourselves and were never asked about the dog.
  • A few days before we left San Diego, I took Rover to a vet and obtained a current Health Certificate and a year supply of flea and heartworm medication.


  • While in La Paz, I took Rover to Franzoni vet clinic for his annual vaccinations and to top off the medication supply.
  • In Tapachula, in preparation for exiting Mexico, Rover went to Veterinaria Animal’s where I obtained a current health certificate for entry into El Salvador and heartworm medication.

El Salvador


  • We entered El Salvador at Bahia del Sol. The official who checked us into the country met us at the dock and saw the dog on the boat; we were not asked for any of Rover’s paperwork.

At this point I looked at noonsite for the pet requirements for Costa Rica and started asking around to see if anyone obtained a new health certificate while in El Salvador and notified the Costa Rican Department of Zoology for a permit prior to their arrival. The answer to both questions was a resounding, “No.” The advice I was given by those who had gone before me was, have a current vaccination record and be prepared to show officials the flea and heartworm treatment you are using. I decided to wing it.

Costa Rica


  • We cleared in at Playas del Coco. Once again, we were not asked about the dog.




  • Our first stop was Vista Mar Marina where we rented a car and drove to Flamenco to clear in. We were not asked about the dog.
  • A quick caveat, we cleared in with immigration at 4:00PM on a Friday and were being rushed out of the office. It was brought to our attention by another cruiser that immigration was supposed to direct us to agriculture (the desk next to the immigration officer) who would have asked us about pets, but that did not happen. We also checked that we entered Panama with a pet on our custom’s form but, were not asked for additional documentation. Other cruisers have been asked for a health certificate, vaccination records, and flea and worm treatments. Health certificates from the US up to six months old have passed muster.

The Panama Canal:

  • The Admeasurer, our Advisor and our Advisor’s Trainee all did not care about the dog. The Advisor’s Trainee fed Rover a feast of Vienna sausages.

Over the next few months I will be doing my Caribbean research. A rabies titer test will be in his future as there are some islands which require it. If you decide to cruise with your pet, I recommend joining the Sailing and Cruising with Pets Facebook group.

Ryan and Rover enjoying the sunset.

Earning his kibble…

A few nights ago Keely exited to the boat to venture up to the ladies room. She left quickly, shutting the door behind her to keep the mosquitoes and no-see-ums at bay. Rover began barking in alarm. He was not pleased. I tried to reason with him. “Keely will be back soon to take you for your evening stroll,” I said soothingly. He wasn’t buying it.

I opened the door and stepped through the companionway and glanced around the cockpit. Under the cockpit table, staring up at me was a possum. It looked something like this:

The common possum. (Not the actual possum)

Its beady little eyes peered straight into my soul as we both froze, unsure what to do next. Rover made his move. He flew past me as I lunged for the safety of the door. Under the table he went, his terrier instincts driving him to flush the animal out of hiding. The possum bolted onto the deck, off the boat, across the dock and into the water with Rover on his tail.

Rover spent a good twenty minutes covering every inch of the deck, looking under every cushion, sniffing around the bikes, patrolling the fore-deck and the surrounding dock to make sure Mr. Beady Eyes didn’t return or leave behind any friends.

He was a good dog. Yesterday he celebrated.

Rover resting next to his new rawhide bone after a celebratory chew.

On Being a Boat Dog

Me and my girl leaving Puerto Escondido. This is where the blanket monster lives.

Me and my girl leaving Puerto Escondido. This is where the blanket monster lives.

You have lived your life on land. Existence is good. There is yard, a nice bed, and a readily available, steady supply of food. Your humans take you for walks, you get to bark at the squirrels and reclaim your territory each new day. Then one day, your humans start putting stuff in boxes.

It happens fast. There are more boxes and strange humans coming to the house and leaving with things that all smell like your humans. A few months go by and you are loaded into the truck and driven to a new den surrounded by water and new, unfamiliar smells.

This den never stops moving. We will go days without shore. The first time this happened, I was scared to pee. They wanted me to go on the den but I didn’t want to be a bad dog. After two days, I finally gave in. My humans were happy, so, now I have a place to go without shore. There have been times I could not smell shore for days. There were strange water dogs that jumped and moved beside the den; I peed on them and they went away. When the den moves a lot, it gets really loud and my humans let me sleep with them. It makes me sleepy and my tummy sometimes hurts.

When the den is tied to land, my humans still take me to shore and on walks. There is a small water car tied to the den I like to ride in. There are a lot of new smells and sounds. I keep my humans safe and play with my girl.

Time to make sure the blanket monster isn’t causing trouble.

– Rover