Tag Archives: Pamela Webster

3 Best Children’s Books To Inspire Pet Travel

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: Wyoming, England, France Books: Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep by Cat Urbigkit, (2005)  Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930)  Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrations by Amy Bates (2012).

Pet Travel and Childhood Wonder

By Pamela Douglas Webster 

When subzero temperatures and post-Christmas bills keep me hibernating at home, I love reading about travel to far-off places.

Winter reading about pet travel with the dog in front of the fireplace.
My favorite winter reading spot includes a sleepy dog and a warm fire.

But unlike many people who save their lighter reading for summer vacations on the beach, I prefer simple and uncomplicated books during the short winter days. In fact, I feel a strong urge to read children’s books. Rekindling a sense of childhood wonder takes me as far from today’s worries and cares as any adventure yarn or south seas travelogue. Throw in a kind animal companion and I’m transported far away.

In 2013 I reviewed some delightful books to inspire travel with pets. I’ve found three children’s counterparts that allowed me to revisit my favorites just in time for record cold temperatures. Check them out to renew your sense of childhood wonder. Or read the adult book that inspired me while sharing the child’s story with your own youngster.

Brave and Gentle Dogs Guarding Sheep

Reading Cat Urbigkit’s Shepherds of Coyote Rocks: Public Lands, Private Herds and the Natural World left me pondering the human and environmental benefits of the pastoral life. But in the gloomy winter, I’m more drawn to her photo essay for children, Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep. Anyone who knows enough about a subject to describe it for children knows her stuff. But her beautiful photos are the real draw of this book. How hard must your heart be to spurn pictures of puppies and lambs?

Classic Island Tales and Childhood Wonder

Tom Neale’s account of the solitary life he shared with his cats on an island paradise, An Island to Oneself, continues to inspire. Cruising sailors make pilgrimages to Neale’s island home, Suwarrow, to pay homage to this independent spirit. And enough landlubbers continue their own fantasies of such adventures to make Arthur Ransome’s classic Swallows and Amazons as popular with adults as with children, more than 80 years after its writing.

The story of two rival sets of English children exploring their common river by sailboat and camping on an island continues to enthrall readers. Banding together to make war against the “pirate” living aboard a boat with his parrot makes the children friends. It’s no surprise that both classics of bold and independent adventure remain favorite reads of cruising sailors.

Julia Child Loves Cats

<Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson could almost be a children’s story. One of the endearing qualities of Julia Child is that she never outgrew her sense of joy and wonder. And nothing amused Julia as much as cats.

Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich tells the story of the real-life kitten who sampled Child’s earliest cooking efforts. Amy Bates’s beautiful illustrations transported me to that test kitchen high above the streets of Paris. Reviewing books that inspire pet travel has given me plenty of inspiration both for fantasy and for the trips I wish to take with my dog one day.

As I end my tenure writing for A Traveler’s Library, I’m most thankful for the chance to reflect on the wonderful perspective that travel with pets gives us—a new way of seeing and appreciating the world. And if you enjoy exploring the human-canine bond, whether by traveling or training or just observing dogs, stop by to see me at Something Wagging This Way Comes.

Disclosures: The links will take you to Amazon, where you can buy these books. It will not cost you more but I will earn a few cents commission. Thanks for your support.

Photo credit: jespahjoy via photopin cc

Tales of An Adventurous Sailing Dog on the World’s Oceans

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: Oceans of the World

Book: A Sea Dog’s Tale: The True Story of a Small Dog on a Big Ocean (2012)

By Pamela Douglas Webster

[NOTE: WIN THIS BOOK and read more of Pamela’s thoughts about sailing dogs at Something Wagging This Way Comes.]

Sailor and adventurer Peter Muilenburg tells the story of cruising with his spirited, sailing dog in A Sea Dog’s Tale. The story takes the form of a memoir of a life well-lived. And the dog at its center provokes the storyteller and his reader to weigh the risks and rewards in leading the well-lived life.

Muilenburg spent years building a sailboat at his family’s home in the Virgin Islands, and then took off with his wife and two sons to cruise the world in their new, floating home.

Well, not quite a home. After all, they didn’t have a dog.

This is a Schipperke puppy.
A Schipperke pup, not Santos.

A fellow cruiser with a litter of Schipperke puppies convinced the young family that their boat needed a genuine boat dog. Schipperkes had been bred historically to live aboard canal barges and serve as watch dogs. For a modern-era cruiser in an iffy anchorage, a noisy alarm dog could be the difference between keeping a dinghy motor and losing it to an opportunistic thief.

Peter knew that having a dog aboard would complicate their lives. But the boating breeder made a convincing case. And besides, who can resist a puppy?

Santos soon earned his place aboard by being a good crew member. He served as watch dog, provided entertainment, and was often the first spotter of land.

But the dog was more than a crew member for the Muilenburgs. He also gave the family a way to test, justify, and reflect on their chosen lifestyle.

What was life for? Experience, love, and adventure? Or responsibility, substance, and security? It was hard to have both….The trouble is, it’s hard to assess in process. Hindsight is so much clearer.

By watching a dog’s life, maybe we could get perspective on our own–while there was still time.

Duke is cruising with his people in the San Blas islands aboard the sailboat Karma.

And what a life that dog had. Santos had so much excitement, in part, because of his family’s adventurous choices. The oceangoing Schipperke was kidnapped, fell overboard, swam in a crocodile infested river, was hit by two cars, and lived to bark about it. (Apparently cats aren’t the only animals with nine lives.) The Muilenburgs nicknamed the indomitable dog, Perrito Macho, loosely translated as “little dog with big balls.”

Besides worrying if Santos would survive his latest scrape, readers may find one other aspect of the book challenging.

Loki, the sailing dog aboard Infinity in the San Blas Islands.

Muilenburg, who trained as a historian, peppers the book with obscure references. And sailing terms are baffling to non-sailors. The reader who is not familiar with Plutarch, the Hanseatic League, and Zoroaster, or who wouldn’t know a halyard from a windlass, might want to keep a dictionary nearby.

I found the book an entertaining armchair adventure that left me thinking about risk, and about the challenge of balancing my responsibility to provide for my own dog’s safety with my desire to give her life-enriching adventures.

In the month I recently spent aboard a sailboat in Panama’s San Blas Islands, I got to meet several families who cruised with dogs (and one with a cat) aboard their sailboats. I learned of the difficulties of keeping food or fishing enough to feed a pet miles from stores. I heard the challenges of choosing routes based on where dogs would be welcome in marinas or anchorages. And anyone who has reluctantly walked a dog will relate to the challenges of providing four walks a day (following a dinghy ride to land) for a dog who simply can’t adjust to “going” on a rug on the deck of a boat.

Jack on the deck of the sailboat Gilana.

And yet, every comment about the challenges of having an animal aboard was accompanied by the admission that all the extra work was worth it for the love and enjoyment of having a beloved pet for company.

Muilenberg would obviously agree.

The family’s travels could easily have filled a book without Santos. But the sailing dog with a big heart made their boat a home. His presence made their adventures unique among volumes of sailing adventures. His spirit and love of life served as an example to his family, friends, and even those of us who only know him through this book. And that’s not a bad legacy for a little dog.

Photo credits: Schipperke is from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license. Jack on Gilana is used with permission of Laura Brasler. Other photos are provided by Michael Webster.

Disclaimer: Links to Amazon provide a handy way for you to shop, and they are also affiliate links, meaning when you do your Amazon shopping through these links, I earn a few cents. Thank you for your support.


Julia Child and Her Cats – A Love Story

Julia Child Book CoverPet Travel Tuesday

Destination: France (Paris & Provence), Cambridge, Massachusetts

Book: Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats (2012)

By Pamela Douglas Webster

If you grew up watching television in America, you know Julia Child had a passion for cooking. If you’ve seen a documentary of her life or the feature film, Julie and Julia, you know of her passion for her husband, Paul.

But did you know about her passion for cats? I thought not. Continue reading Julia Child and Her Cats – A Love Story