Friday, July 22, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - HOW MANY DOGS?

I have so many dogs tonight that I had to write a blog and do a roster to figure out who is here. It is midnight and I just finished the doggie treats. My kitchen space is small so I have been tripping over dogs because they insist on lying by my feet wherever I am, at least six of them. Every time I turn around I either trip, fall, step on a tail, stub a paw or something. I find myself shuffling along, rather than walking. I know it sounds like an absurd way to live, but I just keep smiling and drinking wine.

I’m having an 8-dog night in the bed as we speak. A webcam is a good idea but I don't have time to deal with it, as you can well imagine. At last count there were 16 dogs here, 17 until one of the owners got off a boat for the night, picked up his dog and will return him tomorrow. Of course it was the one dog that is the least amount of trouble. Will any others leave? I think maybe one dog goes home tomorrow, and there is a mass exit on Sunday, but then of course more are coming. I don't even try to figure it out anymore, I just go with the flow.

Summer has finally hit Homer a bit late this year, as it is the middle of July already! There is mucho snoring going on at TBTB tonight, where there is now a mix of Big Dogs & Little Dogs. The roster for the big guys is: Bear, LeLu, Mikey, Teddy and Buddy. That leaves the little guys: Cammie (pint-size), Joe Moore, Yeager, RockDog, LucGoose, WoodBoy, Zippy, Anne, BunBun Roush, Gracie, and Tigger. With the current head count, breakfast should be a hoot in the morning. Am I insane, or just a little weird? Sometimes even I wonder? But, I’m having a ball, and I think that’s what life is truly about.

Woof! Woof!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - Love at First Sniff?

Buddy a red and white Australian Sheppard arrived in camp today from Washington state. His dad Carl is obviously a truck driver, pulling in the driveway in the cab of a loud semi. They were greeted by a group of barking dogs on the deck that wondered what the vibration and noise was all about. I could tell that Buddy was well trained, reluctantly coming on the deck when told to do so but not particularly happy about being left behind. Carl said Buddy would be on a food fast and not to worry if he didn’t eat for his 36-hour stay at TBTB.

Buddy seemed secure hanging out on the deck, being pretty much of a loner after completing the required doggie handshakes - allowing his butt to be sniffed by all the dogs in camp. He was obviously not interested in the camp thing, and certainly not responsive to any treats, albeit liver. Ahhh, come on. All dogs love liver – not Buddy the Aussie.

His entire attitude changed when he saw HER. Yeager, an adolescent black lab mix with white socks, sauntered onto the deck, walked up to Buddy for a sniff then turned around and walked off. Buddy's eyes glazed over and he began following Yeager wherever she went, grabbing a sniff every chance he got but each time he tried to mount her, she snarled in his face putting an end to that nonsense early in their relationship.

For the next day and a half, Buddy became Yeager’s shadow. She liked him but also liked to romp with the other dogs in camp. He seemed okay with that, content to stand back and watch her flirt and frolic with the others. At mealtime they were fed side by side and he would watch her eat her bowl of food and then continue by eating his. He seemed to have little interest in anything but her. Carl was right; Buddy didn’t eat a thing while he was at TBTB.

When Yeager was crated at night, Buddy would lie beside her crate and wait patiently for the morning when she would be let out and they would sashay out for their morning pee. When we did our usual 10-dog walk Buddy would lie in the bushes at the top of the driveway watching us until we returned as he resisted being part of the pack. He would then jump out when he saw Yeager prancing down the road near the driveway. What a pair they were.

Carl came to get Buddy the following afternoon and although Buddy was glad to see his dad, he was reluctant to leave the deck. From the outside of the fence he jumped up one last time and Yeager jumped up from the inside so they were nose to nose. Buddy licked her face once, then turned and ran into the cab of the semi – saying his final goodbye I suppose.

It was interesting to watch their behavior. Buddy was totally taken by Yeager and although she enjoyed the attention, she didn’t appear quite as infatuated. I wonder if this was a case of Love at First Sniff for Buddy Boy? It sure looked like it! There is never a dull moment at TBTB Dog Camp.

Sniff! Sniff!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter – Jump & Grab, AGAIN!

Baking, baking, baking. Healthy treats for my canine friends such as Energy Barks with Granola and Molasses, Puppy Dog Eyes with Carob and Peanut Butter, and Liver Bites with – Liver! It has been quite a process, especially the Liver Bites. Once they are baked on a cookie sheet they must be cut while hot and then dried in the oven for another few hours on low temperature – to make them crunchy.

Everyone is exhausted from watching me – complaining that begging is hard work. I have shared with them no matter what they say. Now it’s late, I’m hungry and it is time to take Zippy out for her final pee of the night. Being on permanent restriction requires a leash. We are quick about it but apparently, not quick enough. When I return I see Anne in her crate with just her butt sticking out, and RockDog right on her tail growling and trying to shove his way into her space. “Anne, did you get my food?” I said aloud as I search and see my sandwich still on the counter. Good thing, I haven’t eaten all day.

I can tell something is up by the way these two chowhounds are acting. I reach in the crate and grab Anne’s collar to back her out, as she growls and struggles to stay inside. I also pull RockDog back because he is very anxious to get into the crate if he can only push her out of the way. Finally I shove them both aside to investigate and that is when I see it, the remains of one of the cute little paw print bags used to package the treats. The torn bag has gaping holes all over and only a few crumbs left inside. Obviously we are back to the jump and grab routine. Just when I think Anne is trained to not do it, she strikes again. In two minutes flat she leaped up to the counter, snatched a bag on her way down, took it to her crate (but not without RockDog noticing) and consumed part of the bag and most of the liver bites before I knew it. Of course she went for the Liver, the most expensive treat. She is definitely no dummy.

Anne is now a snoring dog, right beside RockDog who essentially ratted her out with his over-the-top behavior about food. Had he not been so persistent to get in the crate with her, I doubt I would have noticed one small bag of missing Liver Bites. As it were, she got busted. But the smirk on her sated face told me it was well worth it. And I have no doubt she will do it again in a heartbeat, first chance she gets. Anne is an opportunist at heart.

Woof! Woof!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - Little Dog Day

There were 13 dogs when I got up this morning at 7AM; my six plus two old English sheepdogs and their sister LeLu (senior yellow lab), three Schnauzers and Boulder, a wonderful big black terrier mix. Shortly thereafter Forty-West arrived for day care – 14 in the kitchen waiting for their breakfast of organic kibble with a scoop of oatmeal mixed with eggs and a banana, all covered with homemade organic Greek yogurt.

It’s a process preparing bowls and some dogs are more patient than others. RockDog is so excited he can’t sit still causing the other not-so-patient dogs to begin whining and wiggling. It’s contagious so very soon there is a pack of 14 excited dogs creating mayhem at the food counter, pushing and shoving each other and me. I stop long enough to run the offenders out to the deck where they can wait for their breakfast, away from the food. Ahhh, now back to some semblance of order in the kitchen. It takes much longer to actually prepare the food bowls than it does for them to clean them, especially the labs and English cocker. No sooner do I set the bowl in front of their slobbering jaws when presto, it is inhaled. How do you guys do that? It’s like you breathe it in.

The task then becomes to separate the chowhounds from the slower, I-like-to-enjoy-every-bite eaters. I shove the finished crew into the bathroom or back deck to allow for the others to leisurely pick at their breakfast ensuring there is no cause for snarling or worse yet, a snit. Crowd control, that’s what it’s all about at mealtime.

Around 1 PM Maisey arrives, a black Scottie from Montana totaling fifteen and still counting. At 3:00 PM I drop the Sheepdogs and LeLu off at their house reducing the count to 12. At 5:30 Forty-West is picked-up for the day and Oliver, an adorable Cavalier Spaniel from Bend, Oregon arrives – mentally I note, one leaving, one coming still leaves 12 for the night, one less than last night.

Like magic the swinging doors at TBTB has produced a pack of small canines with one exception - Boulder, who tries very hard to appear small in the new crowd. He gets down on the floor and rolls over for them to sniff until their hearts are content. He is a gentle giant.

The roster of the day looked something like this: Boulder, Bear, Mikey, LeLu, Gracie, Tigger, Joe Moore, Forty-West, Maisey, Oliver, WoodBoy, LucGoose, ZipDoodle, RockDog, Ms. Anne & BunBun Roush. With this many dogs, especially since now we have small ones, I do have to make a list so I can be sure everyone comes inside after the evening walk.

The big dogs take up mucho space in the house but they are easy to spot on the trail. The little dogs are harder to see when they are all buzzing around the tundra but they do yip more and require lap time. Some such as Oliver insist on sleeping on the bed with my six dogs and me. Everyone finds a spot on the bed leaving the pillow by my head open for Oliver to settle in. All in all, I love both the big and small dogs alike. I really don’t have a preference. Life continues to be a howl at TBTB Dog Camp.

Yip! Yip! or Woof! Woof!
Depending on what day it is. ☺