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The Ramblings of a Seamstress, Gardener, Chicken Keeper, and Housewife

Proof of My Adventures (and Misadventures!)

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I'm Dog-sitting.

So, this is what's going on at my house:
No, those aren't moose.  They're gigantic dogs who think they can still fit in a person's lap like they did when they were puppies.  When they both tried it together, I really did have a moment when I couldn't breathe.  Eep!

These lovely ladies belong to Tony and Alicia, some friends of ours who drove up to Indy for GenCon.  I'm watching their dogs now, and they'll watch my dogs when Ben and I go on vacation next month.  When I agreed to it initially, I thought it would be pretty simple.  They watched one of my dogs last year and after a few hours of barking, getting to know each other and figuring out who was the alpha dog everything was fine.  Well, things haven't gone so smoothly this time!

Two days before they were to be dropped off, Tony off-handedly mentioned that Hera (the larger of the two dogs) is in heat.  I was pretty surprised at that because I was under the impression they were both fixed.  When I asked him if they were planning to breed her, he said no and that they intended to get her fixed after her first heat but hadn't had time.  (For those who aren't familiar with dog reproductive cycles, they tend to go into heat only twice a year.)  I know they've had to take her to the vet for some ear problems, so that excuse didn't sit right with me...but I let it go.  Maybe it's been a money issue, and people don't always like to admit that.  Rather than make a fuss about it two days before they'd planned to leave, I just let it go.

Drop-off day arrived and Alicia asked if she could bring over their crates and supplies in one trip, then come back with the dogs on the second trip.  I was fine with that.  Naturally I was shocked when she showed up at the door with the dogs and no crates!  So I scrambled to get the chickens (who were free-ranging) back in their coops, which then let me boot my dogs to the back yard, and finally let her and the dogs inside.  She changed her mind about the order of things because it would have left the dogs home alone and not crated, and she was worried about them getting into trouble.  It would have been nice to know about that, but ultimately no big deal.

After a bit, I brought in Dana (the one they watched before) just to see how things would go.  'Not well' is a massive understatement.  I'm not sure if it was because they were on her home turf, or because Hera is in heat, or because Wendy was still outside whining and scratching at the door like her life depended on it, or (long shot) if they just didn't remember their last experience together.  I know now (since I did some hindsight googling) that the ideal way to reintroduce everyone would have been to meet at a neutral location (like a park) and allow them to work things out where they've got some fun stuff to do (run, smell, pee) and then come back to the house.  That was out the window since they showed up unexpectedly.  Ultimately Dana went back outside so Alicia could go get their crates.

The situation has only marginally improved since then.  If Hera and Athena are in their crates, Dana and Wendy can be in the living room with them.  At first there was a period of extreme barking and growling, but not being able to really get at each other eventually made that boring for them.  After two days Ben and I tried letting Athena out with Dana and Wendy, but all they wanted to do was fight.  I don't want anyone getting hurt so I won't be trying that again.  Ben has headed up to Indy and GenCon now too (he flew out yesterday morning) so for all our safety I've devised a 'dog shuffle' plan.

Hera and Athena stay in the living room, where their crates are.  Dana, Wendy, and the cats stay mainly in the bedrooms/hallway/bathroom.  Conveniently, there was once a door that separated the living room from the bedrooms, hallway and bathroom and it was perfectly sized and hinged for the bedroom doors.  Ben stole a door from the bedroom that acts as storage, printer/network stuff, and cat room and put it in the doorway of the living room.  Now everyone has freedom to move or sleep, as well as access to water but the conflicts are reduced to the bare minumum.  When it's time to go outside, things get tricky.  Here's how it works:

(Almost Bedtime)

  • Hera and Athena go outside.  I supervise, both to make sure they don't pull a Kool-Aid man move and burst into one of the chicken coops, and to keep them away from the fence that separates them from the neighbor's pit bulls.  The pits are aggressive barkers and I'm not 100% certain they're neutered.  Hera and Athena are both tall enough that they could probably jump the fence if they were so inclined.  It's bad news.  So far, strict supervision has worked out all right.  I have their leashes if it ever gets tricky.

  • Hera and Athena come inside, and get crated.

  • If there's any food left in their bowls, it gets removed to a high place so my dogs can't reach it.

  • Wendy and Dana go outside.

  • Wendy and Dana come inside and to the back of the house.

(Bedtime for All)

(Wake Up)

  • Hera and Athena go outside, supervised.

  • Hera and Athena come inside and get crated.

  • Wendy and Dana go outside.  While they're there, I fill their food bowls and put them in the back of the house.

  • Wendy and Dana come inside and go to the back of the house.

  • I fill Hera and Athena's food bowls and uncrate them.


  • Hera and Athena go outside, supervised.

  • Hera and Athena come inside, and get crated.  Food bowls are moved to the counter.

  • Wendy and Dana go outside.

  • Wendy and Dana come inside and hang out in the living room for a few hours.

  • Chickens are let out for free-ranging.


  • Wendy and Dana move to the back of the house.

  • Hera and Athena's food bowls are put on the floor (usually there's still a good amount of kibble left from earlier.)

  • Hera and Athena are uncrated.

  • I go outside to look in on the chickens and collect any laid eggs.


  • Hera and Athena's food bowls are filled.

  • Dana and Wendy's food bowls are retrieved, filled, and replaced.

  • Chickens are rounded up to their respective coops.

  • Hera and Athena go outside, supervised.

  • Hera and Athena come inside, and get crated.

  • Hera and Athena's food bowls are moved to the counter.

  • Wendy and Dana go outside.

  • Wendy and Dana come inside and go to the back of the house.

If you were counting, you know the dogs go outside 4 times a day.  When I asked Alicia about it, she said she usually lets them out 3 times a day, and that the only time in recent months when they've had an accident was after a particularly long work shift when she and Tony were both gone for 12 hours.  Well, those dogs have had several indoor 'accidents' over the last couple days, and I seriously don't get it!  It's just been pee thank goodness, but still...big dogs make a lot of pee!  When I take them outside, I'm watching like a hawk so I know they're also doing their business there.

Last night was a particularly messy night for Hera.  Another charming side effect of being in heat means there's some bloody discharge that lasts days.  Alicia told me that Hera keeps her lady bits pretty clean during all this so I wasn't super worried.  I've got vinyl in the kitchen and old torn-up hardwood in the rest of the house, and all this is easily cleaned with my steam mop.  The first couple days I only noticed a couple pinkish spots.  I thought that was the worst of it, but nope.  Yesterday evening there was a trail of watery blood spots on the floor and I opted to send her to her cage instead of following her around with cleaning supplies.  I feel bad for her; she can't help it, and she isn't doing anything wrong.  I just don't want to deal with the mess.  To be honest...it grosses me out!  Really, I'm more mad at Tony and Alicia for blowing this off like it's no big deal, when not everyone sees it that way.  It's aggravating, but there's also nothing to be done about it until they get back next week.

On the bright side, these dogs are VERY well-behaved and super sweet.  I've been thinking of Hera like a gentle giant.  Her head comes up to my hip, and at 5'10" I'm no shorty!  I know they must miss their people, but they seem happy enough with me as a temporary dog-mom.  Luckily they seem to enjoy napping and being lazy a lot.  There isn't much room here in the house for two big dogs to be active.  The back yard has room to run, and I do my best to make sure they get nice long potty breaks there.

So while all this is going on, I'm still trying to get the house in order for when Ben's parents come to visit.  They'll be here September 3rd or 4th, stay with us (we hope) until the 8th, then fly out to Hawaii with us.  I have a massive list of things I want to do around here, and I'm slowly chipping away at it.  I had intended to get a pretty big portion of it knocked out while Ben is gone, but it's not going as well as I'd hoped.  I may have been a little overambitious, but part of it is the added stress and distraction of needy dogs who don't get along with each other.  Now I've also got to wonder if it's the best idea to have Tony and Alicia watch my dogs while we're away, given how things have gone here.

Anybody want to be my live-in pet sitter while we're gone?  The job comes with cable, internet, animal cuddles, all-you-can-eat free-range eggs and pick-it-yourself herbs and garden veggies!  ;)
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Oh. My. God. You are a saint for dealing with all of that!!! I can't even imagine.

Yeah...hindsight being what it is, I might have just given them our dog boarder's information. LOL

wow.. what a mess! They are beautiful though!!!

Yep, they sure are! Their good behavior and sweet natures are the only things keeping this ship sailing smoothly.

I'm with Jen. You are a saint! And I LIKE big dogs. They do look like sweeties. It's so unfortunate that it's unexpectedly difficult!!

They really need to get that dog fixed so they don't end up with unwanted puppies. :-/

Yeah, they really do! I chatted with my neighbor today and let him know I'm watching a dog that's in heat. While we were talking, one of the pits walked by and now I know for sure he's not neutered. I'll be keeping a VERY close eye on this situation.

That sounds pretty awful! I'm so sorry it's working out to be such a huge hassle. :( You're SUPER kind. And yeah, I would be having very serious second thoughts about future arrangements with that couple.

Thanks for the commiseration! I think I'll be checking with our usual boarder this week and start weighing my options.

That sounds quite a carousel! You are so kind for doing all that.

It's been quite an adventure so far!


Did your friends supply you with canine santy-panties for Hera? (Not all female dogs will tolerate them, though.) What an enormous responsibility.

Yours is a generous spirit, doing all this, preparing for a visit from your in-laws, and getting ready for a vacation. My hat's off to you.

No, they didn't supply me with santy-panties. I wonder if they even know such a thing exists? I didn't, and just had to google it. Both my dogs are spayed and this is my first experience with a dog in heat.

I'm beginning to understand now how unplanned dog pregnancies might happen. The temptation to let your dog stay outside during the messier parts of this process must be strong, and male dogs can smell a female in heat for miles (according to my research online, anyway.) Even just letting your dog out briefly for an unsupervised potty break is risky. I'll be keeping a close eye on Hera while she's outside, especially since one of the neighbor's pit bulls is not neutered. I've read accounts of dogs climbing fences to get to one another, and I sincerely hope that won't be the case here!

...and the bigger the dog, the bigger the messiness.

Will Hera (it is Hera?) allow you to "diaper" her? And not pull the diaper off, I mean. In my mind's eye I'm seeing a "belt" around the barrel, as dogs aren't happy with anything around the flanks, holding one end of a "diaper" in place, a taper to the business end of this thing, which has to secure securely on the upper side of the stern/tail.
Some dogs are tolerant of and cooperative with this and some aren't.

Ages ago a former neighbor had sent her pure-blooded, had AKC papers and all the fol-de-rol female Irish Setter sent to the breeder to breed up a championship-calibre litter of puppies. Dog wasn't inclined to wait; that baby-making-mating urge was powerful, so she jumped the fence or dug her way under and got herself satisfied and gratified by a mongrel.
So, I can appreciate that you're concerned.

As a side note, I'm betting---I've owned only male canines---there's not a boarding kennel around that wants or will accept a female due to be in heat while she's with said kennel. The whole place would be in an uproar as long as there were male dogs on site.

I'm honestly not sure if Hera would let me diaper her. I'm not terribly inclined to spend money on new supplies without knowing for sure I'll be reimbursed. I did see some suggestions online about using regular old granny panties (cut with a hole to suit tail size) and winged menstrual pads, and I might be convinced to sacrifice a pair of my own just to give it a shot. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving her that way overnight since she might remove them and chew the pad, but while I'm around to watch her that shouldn't be a problem. You're right though...there's always a possibility she won't tolerate it in any form, in which case she'll just have to be crated.

I'll bet you're right about boarders not accepting females in heat. I hadn't even thought about that aspect. I checked my boarder's website and didn't find anything specifically saying 'no,' but I do remember them making very sure that my girls were spayed while we were filling out paperwork for them.

Muslin? Like a long, double "tailed" isoceles triangle, big enough on the short side or "base" to go around the animal's ribcage, and the long and tapering point splitting into two "tails" to be tied around the base of Hera's tail? Just to see if she'll let you get it on her, for one thing (before you start sacrificing your own undies), and if she'll leave it alone, for another? (H'mm. Maybe an equilateral triangle would serve better...)

I can't recall who it was who had told me, back when rocks were still soft, I think, about santi-panties for dogs. I just know someone did. They seem expensive, if you're buying them ready-made and "cute."

"I'll bet you're right about boarders not accepting females in heat. I hadn't even thought about that aspect. I checked my boarder's website and didn't find anything specifically saying 'no,' but I do remember them making very sure that my girls were spayed while we were filling out paperwork for them. "

And I'm betting it's a factor in your friends asking you to dog-sit, seeing as how they're out of town during this specific estrus cycle. Monetary considerations may be playing a role, as well, and I'm not unsympathetic to that.

Still voting with the "You are a saint" contingent.

Edited at 2014-08-14 10:34 pm (UTC)

You are a wonderful woman! I would think twice about sending your little dogs to their house, though! I do not think they are as thoughtful and organized as you about playing a Dog Shell Game so everyone remains safe and well cared for.

Our Humane Society sponsors free spaying and neutering days during the year, maybe see if your local one does that too? Maybe they can take advantage of a free operation.

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