That’s the question people inevitably ask me when I tell them that I have five dogs. “Oh my GOD, five dogs? How do you DO it?”
I just had this conversation the other day with a friend of the family I ran into at a party. I said to him “You’re a chemist. How do you do THAT?”.
But, really, there are so many things in the world harder than having multiple dogs. While I don’t have children, I imagine the answers from parents of multiple kids would be similar. “You just do” or perhaps “You have to know how to juggle.”
I think the best advice for either situation would be “Keep a spray bottle handy”.
That’s probably why I don’t have children though. I’d spray them.
But, seriously. How do I do it? We did not get all five dogs at the same time, because, well..who does that, right? I started with just one, and had him for sixteen years all told. During his lifetime, we gained two more. Buddy and Loki. After the loss of my beloved sixteen year old Shih-Tzu, I had just two.
I got up to five fairly recently when we added Pippi to the family, and then later, my Loki passed away, which was an incredibly painful loss and involved months of hardcore grieving. Jax entering the family put us back at five, which is what we currently have.
But how do I do it? It’s actually not very hard, so please don’t be in awe of me or anything. Managing multiple dogs is still probably a thousand times easier than being Charlie Sheen’s Manager or something. At least my little darlings do not get drunk then embarrass me on Youtube with devious claims about tiger blood.
I am blessed in two very key ways: I am able to work from home, and my Mother is my dog sitter.
My Buddy is older now, and never one who liked other dogs (Loki excepted) so, he has his own living space here in the back house where my little office is, while the small dogs live in the main house. My day is spent running back and forth a lot. Checking on dogs, taking dogs outside, feeding dogs, playing referee when they bicker over a toy or whatever, and generally just holding down the fort that is our home.
I spend a lot of time in the office, of course, so I get to be with Buddy a lot, and it’s really just lots of back and forth.
I will go over the common questions .
1.” Isn’t it SO much work?”
A: Surprisingly, not really. Getting them all on a workable schedule, and going through the adjustment periods after a new dog has come into the family would be the hardest parts. Once you have things moving along on a good schedule and everyone is bonded with each other, it becomes your routine, and you just go through it each day like any other routine.
2.” Having several dogs is realllly expensive though, right?”
A: Yes, that one is spot-on. I can’t stress the importance of pet insurance enough! Shiloh was ill this week, and had to spend two separate days at the vet receiving IV fluids and medications and tests. The bill? $1,500 or so. She has Pets Best Insurance, so we’ll see if we get much back from that or not, but it’s still good to have.
Dogs are something of a crap shoot where health is concerned. My 14 year old dog has only been sick maybe twice in his whole life, and has needed only one surgery. I think the total vet expenses for his lifetime so far have been about $5,000, 4k of which was just that one surgery. Not bad for 14 years, right?
Oliver has also been a fairly low maintenance guy where health is concerned during his five years with us so far. Shiloh poses more of a challenge because she apparently has the most sensitive GI tract ever. I’ve digressed…Yes. To properly care for dogs means providing them with regular veterinary care, and NO, that’s not cheap. You should definitely think about that and consider your general budget when planning the size of your dog family.
That said, Care Credit can literally be a lifesaver for those times something happens and you don’t have the funds to cover it.
3. “But, with so many dogs, your house must be a mess!”
A: Oh my gosh..Yes! It’s not from the dogs though, it has more to do with me being completely disorganized. Clothes and paper everywhere! If you meant “Is your house covered in hair and poo?” Then, no..hard floors,and a good vacuum covers that pretty well, and strong potty training never hurt, either. None of my dogs use crates. They are all free-range and able to move about the house whenever they want, but we do close off certain rooms. I run Shiloh’s Dog Boutique which often means some inventory at home. Do you have any idea how tempting all those toys and things are to them? That door stays closed.
4. “So you can’t go anywhere because of the dogs.”
A: Yes, I can! Mom is my sitter, so it is only when she is going away that I’m kind of shackled to my home. She doesn’t go away all that often, so for the most part, yes..I’m free to have a life outside of the home if I want. Do I always think it’s a good idea? Well, no. If one of the dogs is sick, you can bet your sweet bippy I won’t be going anywhere until they’re feeling better. Maybe it’s because I am no longer in my twenties, but I often picture a night in with the dogs, or at boyfriend’s house with them and consider it a little piece of Heaven. Sometimes it’s just so nice to cuddle up with my fuzzy loved ones and stay in.
5. “So things always run smoothly, huh?”
A: Yeah, no..we don’t live in a perfect world, so things will hit the fan at times. There was that one lovely week when all the small dogs managed to be sick with rocket-propelled vomit and explosive diarrhea all at the same time. I remember a whole lot of back and forth to the vet, and Shiloh having to spend a night on fluids. I recall lots and lots of running around and cleaning up and giving medications and running poo samples to said vet, and other general mayhem like that. What I don’t recall is whether I slept more than a few hours at a time or showered more than like twice. We got through it, though, and life did march on. Things with even one dog will not always be easy, fun or successful, so don’t go thinking you’re immune from chaos if you just have one dog.
One day, they’ll get you and your little rug, my Dear.
6. “Yeah, but..dogs die eventually and that’s too hard.”
A. There is no sugar-coating this one. Yes they do, and it will break your heart like losing a loved one always does. It hurts, and it’s damn hard, and you will cry and mourn and grieve. You can’t share your life with a dog in your home for years and not feel the pain of their loss. It’s going to happen. Every dog you bring home will absolutely be breaking your heart one day.
But..they’ll fill your home and your life with love, joy, happiness and laughter for years and years (God willing) before that. If you’re like me, you will marvel at their antics, those precious faces and paws..all the little things they do, and you will love them so much. And when they’re gone, and the pain seems too much to bear..you’ll do it anyway, because you have to.
And because they are worth it.
That was my mantra through the loss of Kiefer, and then Loki. “He was worth this.”
Because they were.
If we allowed pain and loss to prevent us from starting a journey all over again, imagine all of the things we would miss. Whether we are talking about dogs, or romantic relationships…sure, you can avoid them like a plague for fear of being hurt, but then you’ll never know what wonder, beauty and joy you’ve missed.
I hate suspense, you see..so I do it all again so I’ll know I didn’t miss anything.
And that is how I do it.
Thanks for allowing me to babble.
Owner of Shiloh’s