About Me

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My name is Lesli Hyland. In my fifty one years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty four dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I became 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. Currently, as a Dog Walker I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to experience their unique personalities. 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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

      "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!



  1. I hear you Lesli. People are amazed when I say We have 6 dogs. It is a lot of dogs and a lot of work. I have not been as committed as you by any means in the training aspect. They get a lot of loving, good grooming, good food etc. and thank goodness for fenced yards.
    There will come a time when I do not have this many as their ages are 13 1/2,12,11,8, 4, and 11mos. They are my kids and cannot imagine a life without a couple of dogs. The down side is that we can't afford to go away very often. Fortunately I am a home body. I didn't mention the 2 horses and barn cat.
    I think people don't know what they are missing when they have never loved or been loved by a dog. Linda W.

  2. Very well said Lesli, and all your dogs are so lucky to have you. And Brian.

    As you know, I considered four for a while there, and to me that would be the absolute max I could handle - and now with all our health issues here, I have totally rethought that number on account of finances alone.

    Because of this, I wanted to add to your point about being able to keep your dogs in good health. People adopting (or purchasing) multiple dogs need to understand that having enough aside for "one" emergency is not enough with multiple dogs. No matter how staggered your dogs' ages are, there is always a chance all of them will have illnesses or injuries at the same time. Or need expensive medications and supplements to keep them well.

    Something to keep in mind when considering adding that "extra" dog.

  3. P.S. The photo came out wonderful!

  4. Hi Leslie I ave dogs thy are my world too u do a GRT job to I Jude to ave 6dogs all passed away now tho with old age but I ave 4dashounds now and a blue Merle collie thy are all well loved to god bless u both Huns xxxxxx