"Seven dogs?! Are you crazy?!"
My response to this common question is a demure "Seven IS alot..."
Brian usually grins proudly and says "We're DOWN to seven. We had EIGHT until recently"
I'm glad Brian is proud of our family. I am too! But because of who I am and what I do, I am always thinking of public education and the welfare of our companion dogs. I don't want people to think that having multiple dogs is easy. It is not for everyone. In fact it is not for most people. Brian and I have unique jobs. We both work primarily from home with Brian traveling only a portion of every day and my classes, private lessons and dog walks taking me away from the house for short stretches of time. Brian can take a dog with him on his sales rounds and of course I can have 2 or 3 tag along with me as well. Our dogs aren't home alone much and never for a full work day. We have 5 acres, tolerant neighbors, good friends who provide pet care and we make enough money to keep us all clothed, fed and in good health!
And not to toot my own horn...but I am a professional! Kids don't try this at home...
Seriously, living with seven dogs does require well thought out environmental and time management. It requires the ability to read canine body language. It requires skill in behavior modification and general training. And it requires the willingness to make your dogs your priority.
We have a nice home. We keep it clean and relatively uncluttered. But dogs pee on the floor... they vomit and get diarrhea...they destroy things...they require crates and gates that many would find unattractive. House Beautiful is not going to call us for a photo shoot anytime soon!
My biggest beef with people who have multiple dogs is that I truly believe that feeding, housing and loving your dogs is not enough. They need training, exercise, time alone with you, time away from home, mental stimulation and a chance to develop a personality away from the group. Too many people have too many dogs to adequately meet those needs. They all need individual attention. That is the reason I never have more than two youngsters at a time. Anyone that says that they can meet the training, socialization and exercise needs of more than three dogs under two years of age is delusional.
Our dogs are 15 1/2, 11, 9, 7, 6, 5 and 2 yrs old. Mamacita, the 2 yr old, and Tawnie, the 7 yr old, are my competition dogs. They are trained alot, hiked alot and go to trials. They LOVE agility, rally and freestyle with Mom. Tawnie recently passed her Therapy dog test.
James (9), Chalupa (5) and Cubby (6) do not require much exercise (though they still get walks in addition to having access to our big fenced yard and they come to playgroup at work). James LOVES the yard and happily spends hours wandering, sniffing and snoozing in the sun. His car sickness prevents long trips but we are working on it! Chalupa goes hiking with the big dogs sometimes and on long walks with Cubby on Flexi leashes. We do a little bit of agility and trick training. She LOVES doing errands in the car. Cubby was in a High School play last year - he LOVED the time alone with Mom during rehearsals and the show . I am considering therapy work for him. He will be great.
Tucker(11) has some specialized behavioral needs. He goes to work every day with Brian to help him live comfortably with his severe separation anxiety. He LOVES riding in the car. He also LOVES hunting frogs at the pond and Brian is happy to take him on weekends, in addition to short walks and swims during his sales rounds.
Pogo (151/2) has different needs. He gets confused easily. He needs encouragement to eat. He needs patient handling. He is stiff and sore, so cannot travel in the car comfortably. His exercise is slow walks on our lane and toddling around the yard. He LOVES me and he has me, completely.
Seven dogs IS alot, but it works for us.
Thanks to Amanda McGuire Photography for the photo!
- my dogs, my world
- My name is Lesli Hyland. In my forty seven years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I am a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. As a dog trainer I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to share in their unique relationships. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.