I've mentioned previously (stated the obvious, I suppose) that having a pack of seven dogs, some with special needs and all of them in the house, is interesting. Every so often, I am asked specific questions about them, their behaviors towards each other and how we make it work on a daily basis. So, I decided to take this opportunity to share with you some of the questions and answers.
Q: Are they all in the house?
Yes, all the dogs are house dogs.
Q: Okay....but...where? Are they crated?
The only time the dogs are crated is when there is no one home. Two are currently not crated, Hiker who has never been crated and Callie who recently developed some issues about her crate.
Q: Do they all get along with each other?
As with any pack or even a group of people, there are different personalities but all the dogs get along very well with each other. Callie is known for not playing nicely with others and so she is not put in that situation where she will fail and likely cause harm to another.
It's been very interesting to watch the interactions of the pack and see the changes over the years as foster dogs have come and gone and new pack members have been added.
When blind puppy Breeze arrived last summer, she was very pushy, nipping at everyone and had no manners. There were some small fights between her and deaf Azule. Neither of them were picking up on the cues from each other. Azule has now chosen to let Breeze have her own way and there hasn't been a confrontation between them in months. Shortly after they settled down, Forest and Breeze began having similar type tussles. None of these have ever escalated to a dangerous level, it is just them working things out.
Q: How does it work when you're trying to do things in the house with all those dogs, things like cooking. Aren't they underfoot and bothering you?
The dogs are curious about things going on in the house and of course are interested in potential sources of food! In the kitchen, they usually lay quietly, more wanting to be close than anything else. They very rarely are given things from the counter so don't beg. Brook and Forest are the two that like to lay with touching and they will often lay across my foot/feet if I stand still long enough. It's common for there to be four or five dogs laying on the floor as I am cooking.
Q: When you walk the blind ones, do you keep the leash really short so they are close to you?
If we are walking on a trail, which is what we prefer, all the dogs are off leash if it's a known safe area. The blind ones will take the path of least resistance which is the path! On leashed trail walks I use leads that are 15 feet long so they can wander where they want to but still be safe. They have amazing navigational skills and don't often bump into things. I use the word "watch" if they are about to walk into something and they will stop and lean forward to check out what the obstacle is and decide if going over, under or around is the best option.
Q: So you only take them on paved trails, right?
Oh no, we're wilderness lovers! We camp and backpack too! Hiker's first backpacking trip was when she had just turned one year old. She loved it! Various members of the pack have been to the Blue Ridge Mountains camping, Pennsylvania hiking and backpacking and Prince Edward Island where they loved running on the beaches.
Q: Are you going to add to the pack?
At this time, I have no intention of adding more but if I came across a dog or any animal that was in need, I wouldn't turn away. That being said, yes there are thousands and thousands that are in need but I can't go looking for more. I've been very fortunate in that my lifestyle, career and current situation is such that I can do this. When we move further into the country and have more space...well, we'll see.
If you have any questions, just ask!
If you have any questions, just ask!