One of my lifelong friends and I were enjoying a nice lunch one day, when in the midst of our chatter she asked me, “What is it that you do exactly?” in reference to the animals, rescue, daily activities and why I was late. I gave a very generic version of my morning duties and continued to visit on with her, absorbing some girl time during a very hectic week.
The next morning, as I hustled around the herd of dogs, for some reason I found myself a little more observant of my routine. I flashed back to the previous day and heard her ask me again, “What is it that you do?” When I thought about my response, I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. As I stood there in a sea of fur and drool I knew I’d barely touched the surface when I provided my explanation.
You see, each morning I awake not to an alarm clock buzz or the sudden sound of music blaring in my ear, but instead the whip of a tail as it beats against my bed, the bark of a dog in the other room, and occasionally a dog head in my face as it stands over me, staring, bad breath pouring down on me, willing me to waken. I then crawl out of bed (and I do mean crawl because I’m usually about as limber as starched khakis in the morning), do the granny “swish, swish” across the floor with my lazy house-shoed feet, and meander toward the back door so that I can start the daily routine. I let the first batch of dogs outside to go potty while the others yell at me to hurry up. Dog by dog I let the rest out, rotating when necessary (“A” dog despises “B” dog while “C” dog annoys both of them, so the “ROTATE!” mantra begins).
I let some in, let some out (insert “shhh! Hush the nonsense!” to settle the morning jabber), let a few more in and then attempt to hit the restroom myself. “MOOOOM!!!! Miranda won’t move out of my way!! MOOOOM!! MOOOOM!!!“ – Thank you, Noelle for my private time. It’s pointless to tell her to stop because she has no eyes, obviously can’t see, won’t move forward because Miranda is lying there, and refuses to walk over or around her like she previously did on the way to where she’s currently sitting…she’ll walk over her one way but not walk back over – I’ll never get it, so I gave up trying. I simply have to move either Miranda or Noelle herself when I’m finished.
Then “yard shoes” go on as I mosey outside to refill their water buckets and walk China. China, unable to walk and potty by herself, must be supported by a towel when walking and requires assistance with her bathroom habits. I express both her bladder and her bowels. **Hears gasps and “ew gross!”**. Once I’m finished with China, I walk her back inside where I leave her in the kitchen for her usual morning “coffee” (aka: a big drink of water from her favorite bowl). Then outside I go for some much needed natural Vitamin D and poop scooping.
Shelby always accompanies me, as she’s recently taken from Foxy the job as “Pooper Scooper Administrative Assistant.” By my side hopping like a kangaroo, she loves the site of the scooper going up and down…up and down…”Are you gonna throw it for me to catch???”…up and down…while I tell her not to get under my feet, watch out for the holes because we cannot afford cruciate surgery (“We already have to do ONE on your sister, so don’t you do a second one, young lady!”), and yell “Don’t step in that poop!” as I watch her bounce around like a ball in my effort to manipulate the scooper prior to her toes manipulating the poo.
A few minutes later she follows me to the scooper’s home base where I place it for the next “poop-tacular” chore. We then trot inside for medication disbursement. I call the remaining few inside who need their meds…and call again…then look at them dead set in the eye and say “Get your fanny inside for your meds…right NOW!”…and they look at me unphased. So I huff and puff, completely frustrated (as if they’ve never done this before), say the heck with it and walk inside to start my nursing duties. They’re not dumb. They know I’ll bring the meds out to them.
I refill the water bowls inside by grabbing two bowls and filling up one. Once the first bowl is filled I leave the 2nd one in the sink and let it fill, place the 1st one in it’s proper spot, grab a 3rd one and head back to the sink where the 2nd one is full or almost full. Once the 2nd one is complete, I replace it with the 3rd bowl, trip over a dog, and head back to the 2nd bowl’s home base for it to reside. I grab the 4th bowl, and so on and so forth until all 7 bowls are done. Aaaaannd often I find I have to refill one of them due to the slobber in the bowl after an insta-drink from one of the gang. In the midst of all of this, I play “Dodge Dog” – a little game here at the house where Mommy tries to walk through tiny spaces without stepping on dogs, being stepped on by dogs, or torking my back.
I grab some cheese out of the refrigerator and the dogs who get their daily meds gather around (“All right, all right…we need to move…scoot over. Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to step on your tail. Let me get to the medication so you can have it, dorks. Don’t trip me, PLEASE! Don’t step on her either!” **Sees dog drooling. Snatches paper towel and wipes his mouth.**). My Mavis waits patiently, knowing she always gets hers first for her seizures. Then I grab the “Proin” for Fiona, Babe and Emmy Lu. Babe also gets an antihistamine, so she gets the joy of a beefy flavored treat followed by the scrumptious taste of cheese. Then I start with the pain meds, antibiotics, and this and that, tearing off a piece of cheese for each dose (“Oh, how cool…it’s shaped like Texas. How did I do that? Wonder what the next one will be….”). Sometimes I have 5 or 6 doses in one round…sometimes I have 12 or 15. They all wag tails when I call their names, knowing that the baseball bat shaped cheese I just tore off will be theirs.
REWIND: Often China will have difficulty holding her potty on the way outside. So I have to strategically grab a towel, a rag, and the 1 part Clorox/9 part water bottle and clean up her mess. If someone else decided to be naughty, I also have to grab a 2nd towel and clean up that one…and hope and pray I don’t have to grab a roll of paper towels to clean up something less desirable. Clorox and vinegar are my friends. I wear a belt…Clorox bottle on the left, Vinager on the right.
Okay, okay, so I don’t literally wear them, but they are positioned appropriately in the house for easy access.
Point being, accidents must be tended to with care and speed. And sometimes choice words. FAST FORWARD….
I wash my hands of slobber and God knows what else after shoving medication down the throats of a few particularly bullheaded canines, and head to their crates (what I refer to as kennels). I grab Emmy Lu’s towel to throw in the wash, Sherlock’s bed clothes, and take China’s off of her bed to wash, as well (because she always has accidents in her sleep or upon awakening). I hold the linens high enough in the air so that dogs won’t grab them as if they were toys, nor rub any across any furniture or door trim, and head to the laundry room. I drop it in the washing machine, add more that I didn’t get to finish the day before, throw in some detergent and Clorox, and make sure it’s set to “extra rinse” (“We’re gonna wash dog hair right out of our clothes…we’re gonna wash dog hair right out of our clothes….”).
Hands are washed again, I grab a drink for myself and take my own supplements as the dogs sit under me waiting for more cheese. Rechecking the chalk board that lists the dog’s meds, I second guess myself to make sure the distribution was correct. I then grab the Clorox cleaner and another sheet for China’s bed, watching her as she gets excited about her new bed clothes. Scrub a dub dub I clean the baby mattress, and then attempt to wrap said sheet around it. “China, NO. Let me finish before…Will, get OFF the bed, I’m not done…NO, I have to get it all the way…SHELBY, I said NO…Dang your fat, girl, go on a diet…**displays hurt puppy eyes and she reminds me that I, too, have gained __ lbs**…”THERE. Now you ca…aaaand there you are.” China rolls around on her freshly laundered sheets.
No eyed Noelle continues to bark, and at that point I am able to let her into “her” room (aka: my bedroom) so that she can snuggle on her bed (aka: my bed). I remove the baby gate and she goes in. I replace the baby gate and one of two things happens: she jumps on the bed, turns a circle and lays down (same spot every time), OR she turns back around and yells at me because the baby gate is in her way and she wants to come into the hallway.
“You wanted in there, so why are you coming back out?”
“ARP! ARP!” (yes, it’s “arp” not “arf.” Noelle likes it that way).
“Fine. Come back out.”
I walk into my office, sit down, and hear “ARP! ARP!” yet again. So, I get out of my chair, dogs scatter (it takes .6 seconds for 10 dogs to swarm around my desk and chair when I sit down to work), and I walk over to Noelle. She wants in the bedroom. Of course she does.
If I stay in the office the day consists of work, letting dogs in, letting dogs out, letting dogs in, work, answering emails, talking to my mother on the phone, letting dogs out, letting dogs in, refilling water bowls, work, a snack, letting dogs out, lunch, letting more dogs out, letting a few in, work, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
If I leave to go to the other office or somewhere else, I have to get myself ready, make sure all dogs have 2 potty breaks, fill their crate water buckets, replace any towels or bed clothes in their crates, gather what I have to take with me, and attempt to get them back inside from the last potty break and/or playtime (They know when I leave. They don’t come in. They love to torture me. It’s true.). This is the longest process…I reiterate for the 47th time “Come inside, NOW! If I have to come out there and bring you in….” Most come in…slowly. A select few (Pyrenees) push it until I stomp out to get them, tell them that this type of behavior is naughty and unacceptable, and they know to come when I call them. In addition, I do not call them to hear myself speak. They know the rules and I’ve got to get to <insert wherever I’m going>, and I do not appreciate their lack of consideration. I then instruct them to go to their kennels. I receive nothing in response, however, not even an “I’m sorry, Mom.” I mean, seriously…children will take advantage of you in a heartbeat if you let them, and they just don’t appreciate….
But I digress. When I return from wherever it is that I ventured, they hoot and holler upon my arrival, making my head ring, acting as if I’m returning from a sabbatical and they’ve not seen me in months. No, years. I clean up another China mess and hopefully nothing else (and believe me, there have been days where it was “much else” and then some, causing me to even shed a few tears), go through the same routine of letting dogs in and out, finally completing the task. Then I love on them and generally start preparing dinner…for the dogs.
The others wait for their food as I go through my routine as quickly as possible, dishing out food here, dishing it out there. Everyone has their place in the receiving line and a few eat different foods, such as Bogart’s “diet” food (Don’t tell him it’s low cal). There are the persnickity ones that MUST have their canned food or will simply refuse to eat, such as Mandalyn and Emmy Lu, and it MUST be on every morsel or it’s just not quality food preparation (Geesh, they’re rescues, for goodness sake. Starving, pitiful, been mistreated rescues…can’t they get a decent bowl of food, for crying out loud?? Spread the canned food EVENLY!). Then, of course, there’s Kala and Miranda who will eat the majority of their meals but must have a bit of canned mixed in for dessert in order to finish their bowls. Will always leaves 2 morsels – sometimes 3, but never just 1 and no more than 4.
I wait for their food to settle and let them all outside, one by one, again (remember the rule: never go swimming right after you eat. You must wait at least 30 minutes before entering the water). Then I sit down and do more work.
Other chores are left for later – my own laundry, cleaning, cutting grass, fixing this, taking out the trash, and all of those other household duties that we, as homeowners, are expected to accomplish. There are also dog grooming days, nail trims, vet visits, cleaning of the dog room, home visits, “meet and greets” with prospective adopters, yard work, my doctor visits, fundraisers, meetings for both work and the charity, and whatever else is necessary for the furry children, work, my family, or myself. Hauling the trash. That’s the one I hate most.
Bedtime is another major event. I get the dogs “ready for bed” with potty breaks, refilling the water bowls, putting some of them in their crates, put on their bedtime music, and so on and so forth. I tell them it’s “bed time” and they know the lights will soon be out. I walk over multiple dogs as they cover the floor on the way to my side of Noelle’s bed, place on the bedside table my cell, my water, and the spray water bottle (always be prepared) and Will jumps on the end of the bed that Noelle doesn’t occupy. I weasle my way around Mandalyn or my Rocky, whichever is occupying the floor on that side of the bed, and finally lay down. Then I typically get back up an average of 3 times before finally resting for the evening.
The day is always the same and never the same. Some days the dogs are perfect angels and some days I scream a repetitive “WHO did this?!?!?!” Other days I chase a dog around the house to clean an infected ear, and often I have a dog resting it’s head or paw on each thigh as I type away at the computer. I hover over dogs that don’t get along, laugh at the ones who do as they roll around and wrestle, and always supervise dog bones. Gigantic dog food bags are hauled around, doggy laundry is folded and the old broom is replaced with a new broom on a sooner than later basis. Home Depot is a hang out and loves me for my idealistic creativity on how to improve things for the dogs or fix something that the dog messed up. Sam’s loves me for the kibble that I buy and that I buy it so frequently.
However, at the end of the day I finally fall into bed and read a book or magazine, or possibly watch a little television. I try to let the events of the day drain out of my mind as I tell Noelle to get her fanny out of my face (only to be ignored, of course). Will curls up in a tight little ball on the bottom of the bed, and the others are (hopefully) all fast asleep as I make my own attempt to snooze.
Then I wake up to face a new day, slip on my house shoes, and think to myself, “I wonder what shapes I can get out of the cheese today…?”