You would think that life with a bazillion dogs was crazy enough, but I seem to be a glutton for insanity. My household includes my newly adopted 7 month old tri-pawd border collie, Spree, my 5 month old home-bred koolie keeper puppy, Brilliant, and a new addition: a 8 week old belgian malinois puppy.
Creature (yes, that’s his name) and his litter came highly recommended. I have been on the hunt for a malinois that fits the sport I want to compete in (mondioring) that would not only tolerate living in our crazy house, but enjoy it. I chose Creep with natural handler focus as a top priority, as well as the typical bitey-sport criteria. In the short week that I’ve had him, I’ve been overly impressed. How could I not be, did you see his face?
Because I know that you are curious about how I manage a household full of high drive, high energy working dogs as well as three puppies, I thought I’d give a brief view into a day in our lives:
3am: Wake up and potty Brilliant and Creature. Brill has a weak bladder and will leak urine in the morning on her way outside if I don’t potty her through the night. Creep just goes along because he’s a wee-thing.
6am: Wake up and potty Brilliant and Creature. Fill treat dispensing toys with their breakfast and leave them in individual runs to work. Why so early? Because I want to be able to focus solely on their needs in the morning rather than expecting them to be successful while I’m juggling the needs of twelve other dogs.
7am: Wake up and potty/feed four separate groups of dogs. Zuma, Zinga, Nelli and Spree are the first group. They go out into the play yard after pottying to wait to be fed. Next, Brilli and Creep go back out to potty and get their food dispensing toys filled again to keep them from developing bad barking habits. Then Famous, Pony, Rush and Edgar head out to potty and into their crates/runs to be fed. Zip Tie, Kickstart and Taboo are next. Once everyone is content with breakfast, Daphne gets to hang outside until we all load up to leave for work.
8am: Load dogs up for work. Brilliant and Creep go in last, otherwise they like to bark like crazy puppies from the excitement of the other dogs loading into their crates. Management is the key to keeping these bad habits from sticking around!
8:30am-4:30pm: We work. Most of my dogs participate someway in the shows. The shows themselves, along with the necessary warm up and cool down, are all the exercise those dogs typically need, especially if they are in reach of the public all day as well. These dogs also get to swim, chuck it and hike a couple of times a week during the show season. Brilliant, Spree and Creep are all getting at least one play session a day at work, generally focused on building engagement and drive, as well as productive exposure to the public through out the day.
4:30pm: Drive home and unload the dogs! Puppies are first, they are unloaded individually so that I can do some recall work or another toy session without distractions from the other dogs. Then they each go into crates/ex pens with frozen kongs so they can learn to relax as the other dogs are unloading.
5:30pm: Dinner time! The main dogs are fed in their various areas. To prevent resource guarding and to ensure that each dog is not stressed by other dogs being too close, they are all fed in their crates/runs. The puppies work for their dinners in individual sessions. What we work on varies by the day, but these sessions are focused on skill building.
6:30pm: Everyone goes outside to potty and then back inside where we relax for the day. Brilliant and Creature generally hang out in crates in the living room so that they can learn to chill without pestering other dogs. Spree already gets to be loose with the big group.
Wait. There’s two and half hours here…. This is the time that’s reserved for cleaning, laundry, office work, shopping and all that other necessary adult stuff. Oh and I eat dinner at some point too (ice cream counts as dinner, right?).
9:00pm: Last outs and last play sessions for the puppies. Once the dogs are in the bedroom for the night, the puppies each get one last play session. This is my favorite session of the night usually. Criteria is low, we’re focused on just having fun. The games can range from two-ball to flirt pole or grip work for Creature. There is no time limit, nothing else that needs to be done for the day. We get to just enjoy each other and build our relationship.
The schedule is tough. Days off aren’t days off anymore. They are days spent carting puppies around on different socialization trips, swimming adventures or more at home training sessions. It will be worth it when these puppies turn into partners that enjoy every minute of their jobs. In the meantime, I’m enjoying this crazy ride.