Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Babysit'n Dogs

Monday, as I said, dawned with only 18 dogs in the kennel. HA. I say 'only' 18 because at this moment, 18 would seem like a god-send. Never the less, it was my first day to stay home and work as a kennel worker. Ginger and I typically head out a bit before 7 to get the dogs out and serve breakfasts. With this many you need two people - one to watch the dogs outside and the other to serve up breakfast and put them in the kennels. Then, letting them in is fairly easy because they all know breakfast is waiting for them.

But with 11 checkins, we quickly fell behind. Some of the kennel gates still weren't adjusted, so it was a major wrestling match to get them open. We still had all of our tools, and the vacuum cleaner strewn around, so it was a great relief when Dave showed up a little later in the morning.

The morning went ok - we tried out our two yards for the first time.

Click on the photos to see BIG versions of these pics.

Gosh, even this pic doesn't do it justice!

Ginger had her own crew in addition to Dave's and Patrick's


Ginger got off to go feed the horses breakfast about 10 am. I needed to leave about 11 ish to come in and prepare my laptop to return to my company. But then I also realized I've never had a chance to go back to my primary office to clean out my desk, so I thought I’d stop by Broomfield on the way down. Nuh-uh. It was taking so long to burn disks with my data, that I ended up skipping the Broomfield trip AND declared that I just could not return my laptop that day. Fortunately, no one complained. BUT -- now that still remains as things I need to do and I'm not sure when that will happen. Never the less, I went down for a happy hour thrown in celebration of a number of promotions due to a new org structure just released by our acquiring company, as well as farewell to me and 2 other consultants I've worked with for 8 and 10 years respectively. It was great to see some folks I haven't seen for a very long time, including my old boss who left 1.5 years ago.

Tuesday again Ginger and I were out there before 7, but this day we told Dave in no uncertain terms we needed him right away, since we had 24 dogs in the kennel, thus 24 breakfasts to serve AND a bunch of checkins to handle. And he made it by 7! :)

Beyond this many things become a blur. I know I had to run to the store during lunch this day, and when I came back our farrier was there for an appointment we'd forgotten about. The FedEx truck was also there to pick up "8 items". I just love the way they specify shipments. I called the kennel manufacturer and indeed the freight mgr had, despite the notes to the effect of not doing this, had scheduled for the pickup of our 7 gates plus a bag of fasteners on this day. We sent Mr. FedEx on his way.

Just getting the dogs in and out of the building has become a massive endeavor. Ideally we have 3 people. One way out in the yard to entice dogs out that far, one between the kennel and the yard gate to control the door and gate, and one inside the kennel to let dogs out. Since the farrier was there and Ginger with her, we had two. So, to move some 40 dogs from a building to one of three yards takes about an hour. Yes, AN HOUR! I still can't believe it. But of course there are the unforeseen incidents: the dog who puked coming out of their kennel. The two dogs who had diarrhea all night so their kennel needs to be cleaned. The checkin that shows up 2 hours earlier than we expected them. The dog out in the yard who needs their bark-collar refilled with citronella because, clearly, it is empty. Or, by far the most common -- the dog that was forgotten in their kennel and needs to be hand walked through a different set of dogs to get to their correct yard.

Today, with 59 dogs, we're getting better. It took only 1 hour with 3 of us. Uff Dah! (but we had NO checkin or outs, but I did have forgotten dogs, a dog that peed on the gate and food bowl and water bowl and the bedding of another kennel, and a puke incident. Hee -- don't y'all ALL want to get into the kennel business now?)

Oh yes, of course. I FORGOT the whole incident Wednesday morning when Dave and Ginger and Patrick!!! Yes - we decided we couldn't deal with just three of us so hired our neighbor kid who worked over the summer for a few days this holiday - the three of them were introducing two of our dogs together, and it did not go well. At all. We've had dog A several times and he's a very well socialized dog. Dog B we've had in for an evaluation day, and he did fine. However, they are both intact males, and when put together, Dog B totally had it in for Dog A. Fortunately we had them in a controlled situation and were able to break up the fight quickly. Not before Dog A, however, sustained a bite/cut to his upper lip. Ginger and I went to wash off the seemingly small cut, and discovered that it was deeper than anticipated. I called our own vet to consult, and he said given my description of how large the cut was (when stretched out the flap exposed about 1/3 inch of inner flesh) he thought it should be sutured. So I called the owner who was fortunately still in town as they'd just dropped the dog off that morning. She was wonderful and completely understanding, and agreed we should take the dog to our vet for sutures. So once all the dogs were out I took him in and left him hoping he'd be done by the end of the day. This was our first trip to the vet with a client dog, and it wasn't an auspicious start to the holiday weekend. However, I have to think back to several posts I saw on the Doggie Daycare Yahoo group that attested to the fact that Vets who see these relatively minor injuries being treated seriously by co-mingled facilities, thus understand that the facility is well and responsibly run. Upon initial inspection, the vet still seemed to waiver whether it really needed stitches or not, but we decided with all the dirt and slobber that he was bound to get on his muzzle during the course of his stay, that we really were better off going forward. Dog A did come home that evening, albeit still quite groggy.

Now we get to figure out what to tell Dog B's owners. It is our opinion that Dog B was the aggressor. Well, not only that but immediately after the incident when he was put into timeout, he climbed out of the timeout pen. Then today, when we put him and his companion out alone in "Area P" (aka Area Pee) while other dogs were out -- he again climbed/jumped out of the 5 foot v-mesh fence. Fortunately Dog A was still another yard away so he didn't get in with him, but this is just unacceptable. So Dog B was again confined to his kennel indoors. (Which just makes more work for us to let him out individually)

UG. We certainly will have to ban Dog B from any other high-volume time. We have reason to believe he is fine with most dogs, so will we accept him again if there are no other intact males coming? Can we accept Dog A again during a high-volume time? He is intact but as yet still has never acted aggressively towards other dogs; is that a double standard? Dunno, we have some policy making to do.

Wednesday went much like before, but more dogs. We were a bit more prepared for getting dogs in and out, but we still had the unexpected happen. Like when Ginger and I were running to leave the property at noon and as we were driving out she realized she still hadn't fed the horses breakfast! We decided to head out regardless, and when we returned three leasers were there to ride. In talking to them we mentioned that they hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so they were quick to volunteer to come out on Thursday to feed the horses. That was a terrific offer, so we jumped at their generosity and invited them to come on a trail ride with us on Thursday -- our traditional holiday activity.

Ah, but the upshot is that we survived Monday through Wednesday, despite the 12-13 hour days to do so. And then the holiday was just a day away...



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