Gear Tests

Ship’s Dog Tests her Lifejacket

Today the ship’s dog finally took the plunge.

All summer long she has been making a nuisance of herself, barking madly and snapping at the heels of anyone who jumps or dives from the side-deck – so we decided that it was high time she joined in the fun.

Hot Dog
Hot Dog

Poor old Poppy-dog hates water – she even walks round puddles – but ever since we ordered her a snazzy lifejacket the day of reckoning has been drawing nigh. Well, you can’t have a lifejacket and not try it out – not aboard this ship, anyway. The Admiral insists that all the safety gear aboard this ship be tested and seen to perform adequately. Today Poppy’s lifejacket finally arrived – and so, too, her Big Day.

“Now then, Poppy, sweetie-pie,” said her mother. “This won’t hurt.”  And she wrapped the mutt in a large, red, padded jacket, emblazoned all over with Crewsaver logos. It certainly was an impressive outfit, although the dog didn’t seem to think so. She stood there, looking like a sausage roll, or a bright red hot dog.

There, there, Darling, it's alright.
There, there, Darling, it's alright.

“Come along now, Popsie-darling.”  Xoë hopped gracefully over the rail and into the sea.
Popsie-darling had to be lifted over, with her tail tucked between her legs.

Would she float? And, if so, which way up?

Is that tail wagging?
Is that tail wagging?

All was well – she floated in the proper manner, on her front. Indeed, she floated so well, with her head so far above the nasty wet stuff, that she seemed rather pleased! She swam straight to her mistress, wagging her tail. (Or was she just using her tail as a rudder? The crew are divided in their opinions on this subject.)

Poppy is not light – she weighs over 15 kg – and yet the webbing handle on the back of the jacket was perfectly adequate when the time came to lift the dog back onto the deck. And it came very soon, because having swum to Xoë she said, “That’s quite enough. I’ve shown you I can do it,” and swam straight back to the ladder.

The Crewsaver Pet Float is very much more substantial than any other doggy-jacket that we have seen. It would be hell for the animal to have to wear on a hot day, but if Pops comes south to Tierra del Fuego it will certainly stand her in good stead.

Lifting is easy - provided that you are strong enough to pick up your dog with one hand.
Lifting is easy - provided that you are strong enough to pick up your dog with one hand.

The extra padding on the chest  seems to be absent from most floats, but it holds up the dog’s head (as described) and it must certainly make the lifting process less of an ordeal. Webbing, on its own, would be very uncomfortable – and Poppy doesn’t stand for that kind of thing; she lets us know, with pitiful screams, if someone so much as trips over her tail.

Note : The padding extends beyond the red area - but it happens to be the same colour as the dog!
Note : The padding extends beyond the red area - but it happens to be the same colour as the dog!

We rate this pet-float 10 out of 10 for its construction and its performance in the water. As to its appearance – we leave you to judge that for yourselves.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew have also been testing their lifejackets – but that is quite a different story, and one which it will take me some time to tidy up and type.


  1. Michael Miller

    Hello, I was looking at funny pictures of dogs online and came across the picture of your dog. I had to look twice, because she looks IDENTICAL to my dog. Can I ask if you know what breed she is? i have had veterinarians tell me that mine is a terrier/doberman/shepherd mix, but seeing your dog makes me think that he may be a different breed altogether, since the resemblence is so strong. I also found your comment that she walks around puddles, my dog as well walks around any kind of water and avoids it at all costs. I jsut thought I would write and find out what kind of breek your dog is, and say hello… thank you for your time. Michael

    1. Hullo Michael,
      We always used to say that Poppy was a cross between an Egyptian pharoh-hound and a whippet, with dollops of this and that thrown in, but we’ve since discovered that there are other dogs which look just like her.

      The first ones that we saw were in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in Northern Morocco. None of these dogs was absolutely identical, but there were lots which were exactly the same colours and markings but with slightly longer hair, or the same colour and markings but on slightly bigger animals. People told us that there were lots of them around in Morocco, but they didn’t know the breed. Even the vet, who said that she had an identical dog, didn’t know the breed!

      We got Poppy in Spain, from a rescue centre, and we’d never seen any other dogs anything like her in that country. She’d been in the rescue centre since she was 3 months old when she was found wandering around, abandoned; so we assume that somebody – some teenager, perhaps – picked her up in Melilla as a puppy, brought her into Spain, and then wasn’t allowed to keep her.

      From Melilla we went to the Canaries, and here too we saw a few dogs which looked like Poppy. Since the Canaries are next door to Morocco this seemed to confirm the theory of an African origin.

      Then, just a few months ago, we saw an absolutely identical dog in the Cape Verdes. It might have BEEN Poppy – and even Poppy seemed surprised! Even labradors are not so alike as to be identical, unless they are from the same litter.
      We never did find out how this other dog came to be in the Cape Verdes.

      One thing is certain, I think, and that is that Poppy is a pack animal. Her white tail-tip, waving aloft, and her white rump stand out so well in the dark that I am sure they were “designed” for other members of the pack to follow.
      And her big ears are like the ears of an African hunting dog.

      Also, her ancestors certainly evolved in a warm dry climate. Unlike my sister’s labrador she does not have a guard coat – an extra layer of fur over the inner one. Once, when we took the two dogs walking together, it poured with rain, and whilst the labrador just bounded around regardless Poppy became very unhappy. Her black fur formed tufts and we could see her pale skin below them. By the time we got home she was shivering.
      She absolutely hates rain – at the first sign of rain she comes shooting down the hatch into the boat; indeed, if I so much as accidently flick a wet watercolour paintbrush over her back she is disgusted and goes off to sulk!

      Does your dog also stand up on her back legs to look over things, I wonder?
      That, too, might be a trick learnt on the plains of Africa where the hunters might need to peer over the tall grass to look for their prey.

      Nowadays when people ask what breed Poppy is we say that she is an African dingo.


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