Around the year 2018, Sarge Marcum made the most of the fresh air in the Yukon by racing through streams and pursuing fish. Also, his owner enjoyed himself.
In February, Sarge, a 14-year-old assistance dog owned by Justin Marcum Sr., received Diamond status in Carnival Cruise Line’s Very Important Fun Person Club loyalty programme, commemorating more than 200 nights spent at sea (though Marcum said he has sailed far more).
The 48-year-old Marcum, a retired military police officer for the United States Army stationed in Katy, Texas, said, “He likes travelling to Alaska, and I think it’s probably one of the finest experiences he had. Sarge had been with Marcum since he was a puppy, but in 2013 the Belgian Malinois was designated as a service animal after Marcum suffered a brain injury following an explosion.
Carnival only allows service dogs, which are those that have been ‘individually trained to meet disability-related needs by performing tasks like guiding a blind person, alerting a deaf person, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks’, on board.
What was it like cruising with Sarge for the first time?
Although while it wasn’t painless, it was very simple. In fact, Carnival gave me a lot of assistance with it, advising me on the papers I required and how to obtain it. They also supplied a relief room for him. I was a little concerned about that, but every 15 minutes, I would take him to the loo, and he would just sort of walk into the relief area. He was unsure of what to do, but after I had taken him down about five times, he said, “Well, I guess I’m supposed to go to the toilet here.” And he proceeded, never having any mishaps or issues.
How do you get ready to go on a cruise with Sarge?
I first make the reservation through my personal vacation planner at Carnival, who then helps me go to Guest Access and register the account. They then go on to explain all the rules to me, which we already know. They’ll advise me to check the USDA’s (U.S. Department of Agriculture) website for papers at that time because we’ve been doing this for a while. I learn about their requirements (for a given destination).
I take him to my veterinarian, who is certified by the USDA, and they examine him, make sure he has all the necessary vaccines, and then they send the paperwork to the USDA. The USDA then reviews it, authenticates it, dates it, and mails it back. Nowadays, everything is often done electronically, making it rather simple.