Stairway to Mull

Boo, our six month old Boxer pup is bred from champion stock based in Italy. We bought her through our friend Giuseppe De Nicola of Boxer del’Espinosolo. She has quickly acclimatised to life at Powdermills Bed and Breakfast in Argyll and is now a naturalised Scot!

However on our recent trip to the Isle of Mull we discovered that she still had issues with life in Scotland, namely stairs.

John had a business meeting in Tobermory so we thought we would make a overnight trip of it, especially since it was Valentine’s Day. It is about an hour drive from Furnace to Oban and only a 45 minute Cal Mac ferry ride up the Sound of Mull to Craignure. The excitement of loading the car on to the ferry never leaves us. Once parked, the passengers and dogs must climb from the lower car decks to the passenger areas with lounge, bar, café and restaurant. There are designated pet seating areas for dogs. It’s all straight forward and we have done this with at least nine of our Boxers over the last 25 years. Mabel is an old pro, if slightly bored with the whole process. Never had an issue until Boo.

To climb to the upper decks, you need to negotiate two steep staircases. Stairs are unknown to Boo. We don’t have any in Powdermills Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Inveraray – well, three up to the kitchen. So climbing them was not going to happen. She froze at the foot of the steps. We were in the way of other passengers so I attempted to pick her up.  Boo is a big pup.  I struggled, but managed a grip around her waist that had her dangling body length like a large lion cub. We assented. A man offered to help me.  “I’m fine.” “She is only 6 months old.” I embarrassingly muttered.

When we docked at Craignure and had to return down the stairs to the car deck, Boo took each step as nervously as the next. But she made it down. We sighed with relief, at least we would not have to deal with this phobia until we return home tomorrow. We were booked into the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa. It takes dogs and has easy access to the beach for walks and constitutionals. It seemed ideal until we checked in.

“We have booked you into the lower ground floor as there is easier access to the garden and beach,” said the receptionist helpfully. Our hearts sank. “Does this involve stairs?” asked John.

It did. Boo once again had to be carried down the two flights of stairs. She became used to the stairs during the stay but never comfortable with the experience and we were thrilled when she bounded up the ferry staircase on the way back to Oban. Unfortunately, it’s the going down stairs that seems to be the lasting problem as we found when we descended to the car deck at Oban. So in addition, to the puppy training classes that she is attending, we are hunting for any flights of stairs where she can practise going up and more importantly going down.