Off our kitchen is a family room. This room is not used as a family room at all, but as a dog room. We have 5 dogs and 5 crates for those dogs. Two of those crates are very very large (one being the largest commercially available)! We also have 3 large plastic bins of dog food, 5 main food bowls, 2 main water bowls and a plethora of back up bowls. In addition to all this we have several boxes of treats, grooming supplies, bandanas, and various dog stuff. It has always been most productive for us to have this in the kitchen, or near to the kitchen, as its where the dogs often are gated (because some of my rescues still mark in carpeted rooms). Now that we are going to be putting our home on the market, I needed to make the kitchen and family room look and act like a kitchen and family room. So, the dogs had to move.
Since Mark was born I never use the room designated as my office. Its a weird “bonus” room that is accessible though the master bedroom closet (yes, a little like Narnia) or though a small staircase off the family room. Its over the garage and right against the roof, so its the coldest room in the house, not a good place for a baby. This being right off the former dog room is still close to the kitchen, but that room doesn’t really need to be staged as its a weird bonus room anyway. This past week I moved all the dog stuff up there giving me a chance to reorganize my dogs stuff.
People often ask me “How can you have so many dogs?” It may seem like a lot to many people, but its not really. The tech at my vet has nine to eleven dogs at any given time (she fosters). My agility instructor has about ten border collies. Even my aunt and uncle have four or five dogs. The key to owning so many dogs is being organized and having a good system. After working at a “Camp Bow Wow” location for almost a year in college, I realized how easy it is to take care of as many as 60 dogs if you had a good system in place. Making everything as streamlined as possible helps a lot.
Our yard is fenced so letting them go out is extreamly simple, they go out in the yard several times a day to go to the bathroom and play. Some days my 3 energetic dogs will happily play for hours in the yard, we dont have grass anymore… but they also don’t need walks! I often wonder how people only have one dog! Who wears out their dog if there is no other dog? When its time for the dogs to eat (twice a day, after the people eat breakfast, and after Mark goes to bed) I just fill up all the bowls at once putting the two big guys in their crates to eat, to avoid bloat. They are both breeds that are very prone to bloat (actually one of the biggest killers of Irish Wolfhounds). Resting after eating is a very easy way to prevent bloat, also leaving the food bowls on the floor, and not allowing the dog to have excessive amounts of water around meal time. The three litte dogs eat pretty quick (despite their slow-eating bowls) so I just feed them all at the same time and hang out for the few minutes it takes for them to eat. Finding a food all the dogs could eat really helped keep things simple, they are currently eating Natural Balance limited ingredient diet: Salmon and sweet potato. So its just fill up 5 bowls, set them down, close two crates and done. Come back in a little bit to let the big dogs out of their crates and pick up all the bowls!
Really, on most days the actual “work” of owning 5 dogs is maybe 30 minutes. On monday nights I take Josie and Simon to do dog agility, and they love it. That takes a few hours out of my week, but then most of my training for those two is done for the week. The others I find 10 minutes here and there to work their basics, and I’m always doing little things with Waldo to get him better and better with food (he has a history of food agression, but has had months with no issues with people). Once every few weeks I give them all baths, thats about 2 hours of work. The hardest part of having 5 dogs is the cost, but we are always finding ways to lower that too. We buy bowls and crates at garage sales whenever we can and if we don’t need them we donate them to rescue groups. I do like to splurge on nice leashes from earthdog.com. I LOVE using hemp leashes, they get softer with time and are durable, but Luther did manage to chew though Aiden’s first collar!
Sorry if this post was rambling, it took me 4 days to write, and I think I forgot the original point after a while!