Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Building A Better Beast

Any of you out there who have dogs can relate to the pleasures of "doggie duty". One of the first things that people say to me when they find out I have 4 dogs is, "Wow! You must spend lots of time cleaning your yard". Or, "I'd hate to see your lawn."
When we first adopted Sophie, I remember standing outside in November. On a good day, it would take her 20 minutes to remember why we were out there in the freezing cold. I imagine we looked quite pitiful. Me jumping up and down to stay warm. Walking her around in circles, chanting, "Hurry up, Soph. Have a pee." And Miss Stubborn looking at me, holding one paw up.

Then we got Cruce (Mr. "Why am I out here?")...in February. Snow up to our waists, two dogs in hand, both with bladders the size of basketballs. Waiting, waiting, waiting. And then, the clean up. Try to be graceful while holding 2 dogs and picking up doo doo. We got a lawn that summer. This provided some degree of relief, at least from the mud. The following spring we got a fence...& Tutu (Miss Squat-&-Go-Anywhere)...& Colby (Mr. I-like-to-pee-on-the-siding) in the fall of '06. With 4 greys, it was like playing hide and seek to find the scene of the crime. Sometimes all the messes got cleaned up, sometimes they didn't.

Having a dog run was a must in order to preserve whatever degree of saneness we had left. Neal installed a dog run in our last house (a couple of months before we moved). And believe it or not, the dogs were actually trained to go in the dog run. When they were finished their business, the reward was being let into the back yard to play. This kept lawn repair to a minimum. How we ever lived without this fine invention, I do not know.

Currently, we have a make shift run outside of our garage. We couldn't put anything permanent up because we were having work done in the back yard. In the next few weeks, the chain link fencing will be going up, & the winter fencing & rebar will be coming down. The neighbors will be happy to see their property values return to normal, once the eyesore, we call a dog run, is removed.

As with everything that we do, a fair amount of research was involved. The dog run at our first house had grass in it. That's a huge no-no, if you are trying to eliminate smell. It was also against our house. Talk about a make work project after the boys went out. Plus you could see it from the road. Miss Nosey Tutu spent more time spying on the neighbours than the task at hand. This time around, we dug a trench (away from the house & out of view) approximately 18 inches deep & filled it with drainage rock. We've also found out that the lemon scent of plain, good, old-fashioned dish soap neutralizes the smells. By squirting the stones once a week with the soap & then giving it a good spray, the dog run is kept lemony fresh. Also, the soap, when rinsed, does not pose any health risks to the dogs. We are planning on adding a 1' border of stone around the perimeter to preserve the grass outside the run & a mowing strip to hold everything in.

It will be quite the masterpiece when we (meaning Neal) are done! Hasta la vista, stained siding, burnt grass, & smelly yard.

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