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Wednesday, February 13 2013


I put dishes away this afternoon and found a tennis ball on the kitchen counter beside the clean dishes. I don't play tennis. It was a dog ball.  On the kitchen counter. Beside the clean dishes. (groan)

Also on the counter was an electronic dog collar. It was charging. Right beside the cell phone. And the loaf of bread. And the stack of canned dog food I had to buy because Ice has lost most of her teeth now and can't eat dry dog food.

Last night I went to bed and found a tennis ball underneath the covers. Then I found another one. The walls in this house are supposed to be white. The odd thing though is that about 21" from the floor, there is a muddy scum line in the hallway where muddy dogs rub against a white wall. This can be scrubbed off, but it magically appears again. I ask myself, "Do other people live this way??!!"

The white tile in the foyer is dappled with muddy pawprints and don't even get me started on the carpet. Around here, dog crates serve as pieces of furniture. Ikea should really look into that concept. It's a marketing idea whose time has come.

As if this is not proof enough that we live in a dog house, I give you more. Other Half and I have a Queen size bed. That bed must accomodate us, a Border Collie, a Labrador, and sometimes a Blue Heeler.

Except for the Livestock Guardian Dog, no one is a 100% "outside" dog because we believe they all need social time as part of a family. This means breaking everyone into "sub-packs" according to personality and juggling those packs. The packs vary according to weather and what job is currently required, but the 'dog house shuffle' goes something like this:

Trace picks on Dillon so they can't be alone together. Lily picks on Oli and Briar so she can't be alone with either of those dogs or she'll get her tiny arse whipped. Cowboy picks fights with Ranger, even through a fence, so they cannot be loose with each other or across a fence from each other. Cowboy and Ranger pick on Trace but don't fight, so they can be in the yard with him, but not in a dog run where he can't get away from them. Briar would eat Oli because a good LGD knows a predator when she sees one, and so if Briar is loose in the yard, Oli cannot be. And the list goes on . . .

I tell you all this because despite the fact that we live in a DOG HOUSE, we are getting another dog.  (crickets chirping)

Yes. (that was pretty much my thought too, except the crickets were hopping in and out of my opened mouth)

Other Half's newest police K9 partner, Oli, has just been medically retired.

The long and short of it is that she has a knee problem. There is little point in pinpointing the exact problem because she is not a good candidate for any kind of surgery or anything that involves crate rest. As far as the agency is concerned, it is not cost-effective to spend a lot of money to diagnose the problem, then fix the problem, only to have her re-injure it doing bite work. Their money is better spent in buying Other Half another dog.  Yeah. . . you see where this is going.

Don't get me wrong, I do want him to have another dog because his work is dangerous and he needs a K9 partner. I just feel better knowing that a dog is watching his back, but that means we will then have NINE DOGS! (9!!! 1 more than 8!)

And it will most likely be a male dog. Oh goody. Here are some possible candidates:



Handsome boys.  I am praying that this new dog is laid back like Zena, his last patrol dog. She was the epitomy of the perfect dog and I still miss her.

 It hurt to give her up, but she is this dear old lady's sunshine, and Zena deserved to be that for someone.

So what will happen to Oli? Well, don't panic, she's in no danger. She now belongs to us, but we're still looking into re-homing her because at our home, she is simply one dog among nine and like Zena, she deserves to have a home where she can be someone's "special" dog.

On the other hand, unlike Zena, Oli is also a very active Belgian Malinois as well as a former police dog. Homes who are qualified to handle that are few and far between. Thus, if we cannot find a suitable forever home for Oli, she will assume the new job as Dillon's Best Friend.

 "Wooo hooooo!"

Since her retirement, we are more concerned with her mental health than her physical health. If we confine her to rest the knee, she will simply spin off her excess energy, thus causing her to limp. If we leave her loose in the house with Dillon she richochets off furniture, plays tug of war, drags him across the room, is dragged by him across the room, and generally has a romping good time. And guess what. It doesn't bother her leg. They exercise each other, and she's happier than I've ever known her.
So although our first choice is to find a home for her where she can be special, the next best thing is to just let
her be a normal (as normal as a malinois can be) dog here at home. Oli is tickled to death. Like Ferdinand the Bull in the Children's Book, Oli really didn't like being a police dog. She loves the "training" to be a police dog, but the actual work involves long hours of sitting in the back of a police car. B-O-R-I-N-G

And so for now, she will be Dillon's full time buddy, and as her limp improves, I guess I'll start jogging with her. She would actually be a perfect jogging companion for jogging through the ghetto, but then again, I don't live in the ghetto, and I don't really jog, (and when I do, I take my Border Collie,) so Oli's more likely to get exercised by bouncing off the furniture with the Labrador. But if I ever find myself jogging in the shady parts of The Big City, Oli is my go-to partner!

So stay tuned. Yes, I definitely live in a Children's Book.

"Old dog. New dog.

Red dog. Blue dog."

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:23 am   |  Permalink   |  17 Comments  |  Email
speaking of crates as furniture.... Exhibit A: :-) I'd love a retired patrol dog for protection. But I think I would prefer a Zena type to an Oli - sorry Oli, but two border collies and a malinois would be TOO MUCH in my little house. (The dog trainer we took agility from had Malinois'. Fabulous dogs, but she referred to them as "German Shephards on Crack". That's enough to deter me. I would love a GSD tho. Someday. Someday!!
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 02/13/2013 - 10:35 AM
Ah! The adjustments we make for our canine companions! And we only have one! I recently went to the fabric store and bought yards and yards of denim to make a custom, heavy duty bedspread/comforter for our bed, because every one we've ever bought soon had little piercings all over it from bounding Sandy (suspected to have some Malinois in her, btw). My one allowance for style was finding a denim with a faint window-pane-check pattern to it. Unexpected fringe benefit: it doesn't seem to collect [as much] dog hair! It's good to know that you guys will do what's right for Oli. In the mean time, it's good that she has such a good friend to keep her exercized.
Posted by EvenSong on 02/13/2013 - 12:03 PM
LOL! Yes, other people live like that! Grimy marks at dog height on walls and doorways: check. Muddy paw prints and dog-hair tumbleweeds: check. Kong toy in the bed: check. Dog crates in living and dining rooms: check. Slimy noseprints on windows, arms, furniture, and best clothes: check. Having two Belgian shepherds who keep me active and make me laugh every day: priceless. I doubt that I could manage 8, though -- good on you for adapting your life to fit them all in. Those are some very lucky dogs. :-)
Posted by Heather in Canada on 02/13/2013 - 12:10 PM
Gosh - all that extra effort and time needed to keep certain dogs together and apart! I know there are many others with 3+ dogs who need to do the same. The problem is that you only have limited time. Since Belgians and Labs need to run and enjoy exercise for their mental health, I suppose you need to put Briar inside and let Oli & Dillon (& ???) run around outside. For example, Terri, my 8 year old Terv, enjoyed a 90 minute game of fetch today after having several days of limited playtime. Do you need to have a schedule posted on your wall for running/playtime for the dogs that need it? I sure would.
Posted by Terri's Pal on 02/13/2013 - 05:53 PM
Wow!! I only have 3 dogs and I learned very quickly that you should never have more dogs than you have hands. That being said, the only reason that I don't have more is that my BC hates all other dogs and just tolerates the two he lives with (plus, I live in town). If only all dog owners were like you. If a dog comes into your home, it's for life. Kudos. (and yes, other dog owners live like you with mud, toys crates for furniture and no room in the bed. You just have it all magnified)Then again, the love is magnified as well.
Posted by Janet on 02/13/2013 - 06:32 PM
We live with 6 (soon to be 7) Border Collies and a JRT in the house. Also have a Great Pyrenees who lives with the sheep. Hubby competes in herding trials thus the need for sheep and multiple BC's. Most nights we share our bed with at least three of the BC's as well as the JRT. Thank goodness it's a king. Dirty walls, nose prints on windows, muddy paw prints, dog hair in the lint filter, yes to all of the above. Oh yea, dog hair dust bunnies too. At least I got rid of most of the carpet! Just to make life interesting, we have 6 BC's that hubby is training for other folks besides the above mentioned ones. So you might say that we have gone to the dogs!
Posted by Bobbie Washer on 02/13/2013 - 08:57 PM
Geez, at this point you ought to call in Cesar Milan to help make your pack more compatible with one another. I can't imagine the worry you have regarding who is with who and dog fights. As for dog messes. We have enough dog hair in our house at all times to make a whole new dogs. Now it's dog hair and dead grass.
Posted by CeeCee on 02/14/2013 - 08:05 AM
Oh thank goodness! You guys make me feel better.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 02/14/2013 - 10:10 AM
Oh, I can so relate to this story, although I only have four dogs, three of whom live in the house. But two of those three are a Lab and Belgian Sheepdog. Add to that a 50# something or other, that is tan with lots of chrome who was dumped off because, well, you know those people have horses and dogs so she'll have a nice home in the country. They were right, she does :)
Posted by Jeanne Kent on 02/14/2013 - 09:52 PM
Sign at entrance to our property -- "Old dog, young dog, several stupid dogs. Please drive slowly!" I found the sign in a horse-supply catalog and snorted coffee as I fell off my chair. At the time, we had 6 catahoulas, a yellow lab, and a Bernese Mtn Dog. Sounds like you could use one too!
Posted by TinaG on 02/15/2013 - 09:06 AM
I sooo need that sign. And my sign should read: "Old dogs, young dogs, several stupid dogs. Please drive slowly and CLOSE THE GATE!"
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 02/15/2013 - 10:08 AM
all by herself claire makes sure that our small house in the suburbs is appropriately decorated with dog fur covered furniture, dirt and beach sand to add texture and visual interest to all flooring, and smudges from wet dirty tennis balls on wall surfaces for the first 3 feet up from the floor. the second floor is the cat's responsibility - orange and grey fur scattered over all bedroom surfaces, including every bit of fabric, is Sarah's job. i think there may be a market for a line of home decor/supplies in a domestic animal theme - german shepherd tweed for the couch, siamese cat cream and brown patterned sheets, furfluff covered decor pillows, etc.
Posted by clairesmum on 02/16/2013 - 10:27 AM
I have 7 Belgians, all long coated. I vacuum every day, wash windows and walls frequently, love my crate furnishings with brighly patterned rugs, and am careful who is put out with who. It's peaceful when they are all in with me cuz I rule!!! LOL. Ages range from 18 months to 11 years and they are all males! Being retired I can groom a dog a day and keep up! :-) Some are retired agility dogs, breed Ch, some active now in both, some in training. They are the center of my life and keep me engaged at age 71.
Posted by sheila walker on 02/18/2013 - 08:41 PM
Oh yes, you describe it so well. Another house here with bunnies of dog hair, well when my Groen blows coat it is more like tumbleweeds, rofl. Got rid of all carpeting and put in tile and bamboo floors. Love it, use a shop vac to vacuum and then the Shark steamer. Identify with the windows also, I have the Groen, 2 Mals of ABMC Rescue and old shepherd/husky cross and Thank youright now 2 xtra Mals for a friend while she relocates. My house is called The Zoo. Keep writing you do have a way with words. Thank you.
Posted by Mom2Shania on 02/19/2013 - 02:04 AM
Wow! You guys are really making me feel better. Holy Cow, Sheila! 71 and juggling 7 dogs! There is hope for us! He keeps saying that as dogs die off we're not replacing them and we'll get down to just 2 dogs again, but HE is the one who keeps getting more dogs! On the other hand, it's a great home security device. I definitely sleep well at night.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 02/19/2013 - 09:05 AM
Oli sure is a handsome described her as High drive/low threshold... ...What does the low threshold refer to exactly. I have a Belgian and I certainly get the high drive part :) thanks!
Posted by Carter on 02/19/2013 - 01:16 PM
Low threshold means she has a higher reactivitity level than say, your average German Shepherd. Many Belgians, particularly working bred Belgians like Oli, tend to be a bit more "primitive" than most dogs. Their cup of "self-control" is a bit smaller. They can certainly be taught self-control, but they tend to be more reactive than the average pet. (Kinda like a German Shepherd on crack.)
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 02/19/2013 - 02:51 PM

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