Meet our Dolphin Spotting Dogs
An integral part of our team at Akaroa Dolphins is our expert dolphin spotting dogs. We have 4 dogs; Albie and Buster as our main dogs, Moana in training and Jet who is retired, but available if needed.
The dogs have their very own roster, taking turns working, one at a time. They are on the boat equipped with dog life vests, ready to spot some dolphins. They each react in their own individual way, indicating that we are close to the Hector´s dolphins. Apart from this important task, their job is also to enjoy all the petting and hugs from the crew and passengers onboard.
Albie - English Springer Spaniel
Albie is our 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel. For a while, we´ve been saying that he is in training, but we can hardly say that anymore. He´s been on the boat since he was just 6 months old, so he´s one of our most experienced dolphin dogs despite his young age. We do not train our dogs, we just let the dogs do what comes naturally to them. Albie loves to stick his head over the side of the boat, lying flat on his tummy, to get as close to the dolphins as possible, just watching them play in the water. It´s especially good if he can squeeze in between passengers’ legs – so look out for Albie, you may have a dog under you, and it is not a small one! He quickly outgrew what is the normal size for his breed. Albie is a big gentle teddy bear, skilled at “pawing” and giving “high-fives”, and easily distracted by flying insects and the smell of shoes.
Buster - Miniature Schnauzer
Buster is our other full-time dolphin spotting dog. He´s 5 years old and has been working for us for 4 years now. As a Miniature Schnauzer he is small, fast and highly alert – even when he´s sleeping upstairs next to the boat´s wheel he has one eye open making sure the skipper is doing his work properly. During the boat trip, he will get familiar with everybody on board, by trying out different laps, and by sneaking into the warm spot between people´s backs and the seat cushion. Because of his small size, it has happened once or twice that Buster in his excitement of seeing his dolphin friends, took a glide under the boat rail and into the water. He was quickly retrieved with a boat hook by our staff guide on board, fished up by the handle in his life vest. After shaking the cold water and suddenly turn of events of him, Buster was back at work again, keeping a close eye on those sneaky dolphins.
Jet - Kelpie
Jet is 10 years of age the eldest among our dog staff. He spent the first 5 years of his life living in the outback of Australia with our skipper George, working on a cattle station. When George decided to return home to New Zealand and join the family business with his parents and sister, he brought Jet the Australian Kelpie with him. Jet now enjoys his retiral in Skipper George´s backyard looking after Albie, and the other dogs when they come to visit. You may also see him sleeping on the floor in our main shop on Beach Road, loving the attention and pats from customers, or staring at the fly on the wall – for an impressive amount of time. When Jet is called to duty, you will see him take the task very seriously. He sits right on the bow during the whole boat trip, not caring about the wind or waves, staring into the sea. As a herding dog, he will bark when he senses the dolphins, not stopping until told. Once a working dog always a working dog.
Moana - Kelpie
Moana is Jet´s 1-year old daughter and our newest dog staff member. She lives with Pip and Hugh Waghorn, the founders of Akaroa Dolphins. As a dog in training, she is still just getting used to being on a boat. She is an energetic young lady and right now her favourite thing in the world is to play fetch with Jet and Albie and dig holes in Skipper George´s otherwise perfect grass lawn. To help her get more familiarized with the boat life she accompanies Buster and Albie during their workdays, where they show her how fun it is to be a dolphin-spotting dog!
On behalf of Akaroa Dolphin´s dog crew Albie, Buster, Jet and Moana – Thanks for visiting! They are all ready and eager to show you their skills – Let´s go and find some dolphins!
Illustrations & Words by Emma Perrin