Florida Boating

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


By Barb Hansen
May 2011

It was Valentine’s Day, 1995 and I was awakened by my husband at 0630 telling me the morning TV news had just featured the cutest puppy available for adoption. "You have to go get her,” he said. That’s not exactly how I had hoped to be awakened on such a romantic holiday, but that’s another story.

I quickly got the doggie details. The “weather pet” that morning was a cute little black and white canine from the local animal shelter in need of a home. While we had talked about getting a dog for a few years, I hadn’t planned on adding a puppy to our family that day and neither had our two cats. However, being the animal lover that I am it only took a few minutes to be convinced that there was no better time than the present to expand our family.

I was waiting at the door when the Humane Society opened their doors that day and soon I had our new little fuzz ball in my canvas bag on the way to her new home. Vic and I quickly shopped for all the goodies our gal would need over the next few days. I confess now that the only “baby” collar in stock that day was blue. I know, I know. I probably scarred her for life, but I had no choice.

Now for the biggest dilemma of all – what to name our girl? I can see why it takes some parents nine months to decide on a name for Junior. See, it just has to fit. We perused all of our nautical publications trying to find the perfect name for a boat dog. Dinghy? Sloopy? Nothing seemed to work. Then it occurred to us that since this puppy was on TV, she was really a Star! At two months old she also had the outline of a star in the fur on her chest. Her name was Star

We soon found out that Star was not a terrier mix as the shelter had labeled her. Instead she was a smart and beautiful border collie. We took her to training classes, set up an agility course at home and read all about this popular herding breed. It wasn’t long before we noticed that border collies were showing up in more and more TV commercials and our local airport paid more than $5,000 to train one to chase birds off the runway. Hmm...mm. Hey, after all we did have a “Star” in the family. . . .

In the end, though, we found that Star was better at herding for fun than she was at working. Oh sure, she herded the cats from room to room. She herded our young nieces when they just wanted to play. Most of all, she enjoyed herding the dolphins that rode our bow and stern waves every time we went cruising. The dolphins seemed to enjoy it, too. The more she ran around the deck barking at them, the more they performed their aquatic acrobatics for everyone on board.

Star experienced more in her lifetime than most people. She flew in private planes and cruised the entire Intracoastal Waterway from New York to Florida. During one boat delivery, we stopped in Hilton Head. Because the trawler we were on was so tall, it was quite a leap from the deck to the dock. Star managed it with ease. She jumped off the boat and back on the boat many times. Soon a small crowd gathered around to watch her, clapping each time she made a successful landing. Star loved the limelight.

Star had another role. She was our office greeter for most of her life. It wasn’t quite Wal-Mart, but she enjoyed her “job.” Her favorite parts of the day were lunch time, walk time, and making new friends. For many years we (unofficially) qualified our charter customers by whether or not Star smiled at them. Yes, this dog smiled. If a client came to the office and Star backed away we wondered about their boating skills and took a little extra time to check them out.

In my opinion, everyone should have a dog or a cat or several of them. Everyone with kids should definitely have a pet. They teach kids about responsibility and unconditional love. Forget the video games. Make a video of your kids playing outside with Rover. Retired people should have a pet. They are good company and great listeners. The benefits of walking are touted all over the news these days. So, adopting a dog can actually make you both healthier.

Star was one of a kind. Running on the beach, fishing, and barking at the water birds were just a few of the things she loved to do. She simply loved to be busy. At age fourteen, arthritis started to limit her mobility. Her jumping and herding days were replaced by more naps on the porch. At age fifteen we had to carry her on and off the boat. However, she still loved to go wherever we were going and do whatever we were doing. She could no longer herd her cat sisters, but she still liked to think she was in charge.

Star passed away in February at the age of sixteen. Our world is not the same. We miss our girl. But looking up at the night sky I see a new light twinkling. Our Star is shining down on us and smiling.


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