Lost sailor, Tim Shaddock, says poignant goodbye to the dog who kept him sane but is he lying to himself?

OPINION: You have probably read about Tim Shaddock and his dog, Bella, who he adopted before going on an improbable voyage across the Pacific which went badly wrong leaving him stranded at sea for two months, lost, with his dog Bella who kept him sane. He was eventually rescued when he felt that he might be at the end of his life, by a tuna fishing vessel. He had been spotted by a helicopter that was being used by the tuna fishing crew to find tuna in the Pacific Ocean. It was pure luck.

Shaddock and Bella.
Tim Shaddock and Bella. The image of a brave but unfortunate hero and his loyal dog. I don’t see that image. Screenshot from YouTube video below.

The key element to the story is Tim Shaddock’s relationship with his dog Bella. He managed to survive because he fortunately had fishing gear on board. He fished and lived off fish while Bella fed on dry dog food.

When he finally returned to dry land with the fishing vessel and its crew, the speculation was whether he would stay with his dog who had been so faithful to him.

Tim Shaddock and Bella after his rescue
Tim Shaddock and Bella after his rescue. Image: Reddit.

His argument was that he could not return to his homeland, Australia, because of the strict immigration laws regarding pets and also because of the cost of transporting Bella to Australia.

I did not find that argument plausible. This is a very high-profile story. He could have employed crowdfunding to pay the expenses of transporting Bella to Australia. There was no problem in my view regarding money. The practicalities could be overcome.


Inconvenient to keep Bella

The truth of the matter is that Shaddock no longer wanted to keep Bella as his canine companion because she – at this junction in his life – gets in the way of his plans. One of the crew members has adopted Bella. Shaddock is pleased with the outcome which is very neat.

It appears that the reports about him returning to Australia were inaccurate. He is not returning to Sydney after all. He wants to continue with his adventures and explore Belize. He wants to see whether he can get lost in the jungle! And Bella will not be accompanying him.

He argues that he is being kind to Bella because he does not want to put her through another dangerous odyssey as reported by The Times newspaper today.

“She’s been through a lot with me as it is”, he said. The Times visited Shaddock and Bella in Manzanillo, Mexico. It’s a port town where he has been recuperating after his rescue.

He said that he was sad to lose Bella because “she is a remarkable animal”. He said that he has been with Bella since she was a pup.

Bella in fact adopted Shaddock because she followed him when he was in Mexico before the journey and therefore, he was compelled to adopt her.

He says that she enjoyed being on the boat with him and that she managed very well. He said “You wouldn’t believe how well she managed out there”. She looked fit and well after the journey!

He admits that he bit off more than they could chew in respect of trying to sail across the Pacific as most of his sailing experience was when he was a boy. “The most offshore sailing I had ever done was along Australia’s Gold Coast, from Brisbane down to Sydney”.

He admits that he wasn’t prepared to sail across the Pacific solo. But it is hard to come to any other conclusion, if we are honest, other than that Tim Shaddock now finds it inconvenient to keep Bella and wishes now to break up this close relationship because he wishes to go on exploring. He seems to be unfaithful to her. He credits here with keeping him sane. Shouldn’t he be faithful and loyal to her in return?

He pitches his argument in a positive way which he would; he is saying goodbye to Bella for her benefit but the truth is that he’s doing it for his benefit. He doesn’t have to travel through the jungles of Belize. He could go back to Sydney Australia with Bella.

Adopt a dog for the life of the dog

It begs the question as to whether you adopt a dog for the life of the dog or whether you adopt a dog at your convenience. And surely, it is the former. There is only one way to make that big decision to adopt a canine companion: to commit to take on the responsibility for the lifetime of the dog. And if something goes terribly wrong which is unforeseen such as running out of money then you rehome your dog in a careful way to ensure that they end up with a good caregiver.

But reading about Tim Shaddock’s story, as mentioned, he’s giving up Bella for his convenience. I can’t see any other way of getting around the conclusion hard though it might sound.

Character?

Tim Shaddock has some character issues I’d say without wishing to be too critical. He voyaged without sufficient preparation which risked his life and that of Bella. It is indicative of a sloppy approach; a lack of mental self-discipline which is supported by his abandonment of Bella.

Below is an earlier post on this story:

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