Many of us have fantasized about how great it would be to just leave the rat race behind and "sail off into the sunset." I know I have.
Very few of us ever actually do so -- even fewer are canines who have made the move.
There is, however, one local pooch who not only has seen much of the United States and Europe , but who is first mate on the " C.BouBou" -- a 40-foot sailboat currently in Costa Rican waters.
This adventurous dog is Zin, a 10-year-old dachshund belonging to Henry and Mari Farnarier of Healdsburg. Zin has been an important member of the Farnarier household since he was 6 weeks old. Zin has been enjoying a life at sea for part of each year--when not at home in Heladsburg--for the past six years.
From the start, Zin and Henry Farnarier have had a special bond.
" Together we went through all kinds of the situations life can throw at you, always finding comfort in each others' eyes," Farnarier said. "A simple glance, and we were ready to go to the end of the world together."
It appears that Zin is literally doing that. Lucky dog!
"It never crossed my mind not to bring him with us anywhere we would go," Farnarier said. "He had a nice trip once on one of the last sleeping cars on a train from the French Riviera to Paris , arriving in time for a nice lunch at the Brasserie Lipp."
Before Zin was 4 years old, he had already been to Montmarte and the Eiffel Tower, the Loire castles of Chambord and Chenonceaux, and many other places throughout Europe as well.
As you might expect, Zin is no stranger to domestic travel either.
Being born on the Fourth of July, one trip within the U.S. that Zin--the patriotic pup-- particularly enjoyed was to Washington, D.C. to see the Lincoln Memorial and the White House.
"The real fun started when we retired and decided to put into pracice my years of sailing experience," Henry Farnarier said.
So in 2004, when Zin was 4 years old, the Farnariers and he selected a good sea-worthy sailboat.
After a few months readying the C.BouBou, the virgin voyage began, beginning from San Francisco, heading south to the warm waters of Central America.
The intrepid Zin readily acquired his sea legs ( which shouldn't really be too hard when your legs are only about three inches high!), but his life experiences, rich as they were, had not completely prepared him for life at sea.
His food bowl clattering across the floor due to the boat rocking was disconcerting to Zin--who fruitlessly did his best to chase it into submission.
Where to do his " business " was also an immediate concern. He soon learned he had to use the deck, but " fortunately there is plenty of water in the ocean to clean it up," Henri Farnarier said.
As always, Zin looked to his captain for guidance as to proper onboard behavior, " interrogatively looking at me and finding that after all, if I was fine with it he should be too," Farnarier said.
Once accustomed to the sailboat Zin began to discover the wonders of the Pacific Ocean, excitedly barking to notify the Farnariers of the dolphins, tortoises and whales he was spotting in Santa Barbara, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada and La Paz.
I've heard it said that a sailor's true love is the sea, but there's often a girl in every port.
After a couple of weeks in La Paz, Zin proved himself to be no exception to the rule when he became very close friends with Lucy. What was exceptional was that Lucy was the marina's pet goose!
Still, despite his exotic love life, this little dachshund is always happiest "when close to me or Mari, and possibly in our lap," Farnarier said. "During the long nights at sea he usually settles next to me by the radar screen and keeps watch as a responsible first mate."
Even the nights can be eventful, as Zin has found out. Once, both first mate Zin and the captain dozed off while on watch, only to be rudely awakened by loud gurgling and extremely foul smell of a gray whale burping a few feet away on the portside.
"We can tell you that gray whales don't know zip about Listerine!," Farnarier said.
Dachshunds have a very keen sense of smell. I wonder if Zin abandoned his skipper and moved starboard after that malodorous incident!
Part two of Zin's adventures at sea next week....