Cota Farms' Blog

February 4, 2012

Living With Dogs – Chapter 2

A custom built bin to hold dry food as part of your kitchen cabinets places the food in easy reach and saves a few steps every time you feed.  For us that means feeding 8 dogs and some odd number of cats twice a day and that doesn’t count the extra treats here and there.  Here’s a tip, with conscience shopping you can find all meat wieners for $1/lb and that is less costly than dog treats that often have no meat in them at all.  We pile on the treats for our outside dogs in the winter to help fend off the cold.  The only dogs we keep outside thru the harsh winter months are those that are designed for such a life like our Komondork and Great Pyrenees working dogs.  These dogs are amazing; they usually don’t even go to their shelters in weather that would kill the average dog.

It is during particularly bad weather that the whole issue of living with your dogs comes to mind.  Our dogs don’t care about the cold or the rain or the snow, they don’t like thunder and lightning but even bad winds don’t faze them much.  A mud room, if you have one, can be a convenient place for feeding when the weather is bad but you don’t want to hang out there with them and unless you have a dog door in that room for them to get out and do their business you have to clean up more than just the mud.  So we need a place with the convenience of a mud room but the comfort of a basement, easy access for you and the dogs while allowing you to retreat to the house while the dogs can move freely outside to earn their keep if they are guardians.  The room needs to be warm and dry enough to contain a chair and television or computer, phone, etc., but not uncomfortable for the dogs.  The point is that you want the dogs by your side, why else have them?  I won’t even go there as that topic will anger me.  Anyway, you don’t want carpet of course nor an expensive floor or furniture to worry about because the dogs will often be wet or muddy.  You are thinking enclosed deck or patio, right?  Absolutely!  Maybe a small woodstove to take off the chill and windows all the way around, save money by using translucent plastic for the roof.

There are many advantages to this type of construction.  Other than basic good building practices, it doesn’t have to meet any particular code, you can do it yourself if need be, it doesn’t have to be completed all at once, some materials may even be salvage like windows for example.  This doesn’t mean that this space that you and your animals share has to look like a hovel.  A modest deck with pony wall and roof can be architecturally appealing if you use a little imagination.  The rest can simply be stretched screen and that can be covered with plastic during the winter months.  Surplus windows or glass can be added a piece at a time later.  With the proper dog/cat/pot bellied pig door, you shouldn’t have to clean up much poop.  Treated decking and outdoor furniture can be sprayed down when necessary.  For you bird fanciers this room can also serve as a grand aviary.

Why do this, go thru the effort and expense?  Well, the truth is that we live in a world where many people do not share our love of animals and there are times when we need to interact with those people. The amount of time that we spend with our animals verses time spent with these other people in our homes should order the partition of the house.  Unfortunately I can not build another house nor greatly modify the existing house but if I could it would be partitioned 35% such that the other people would see and 65% where I would spend most of the time.  Practically speaking that means two thirds of the house would be Spartan, designed to be easily cleaned and free of stuff.

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