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Four Dogs, One Mom

Day in the life of an infertile mother of four furbabies.

By Kylie JanePublished 2 months ago 13 min read
2023 Christmas

It's 6:30 am. Dino has begun to whine. He is the most strict about schedule and would prefer we were up half an hour earlier. If we don't stick to his prompt schedule, Dino won't get his breakfast on time. When breakfast is not on time, Dino's stomach acid gets upset and then we race back outside to puke.

Rolling out of bed, I get myself together while Dino paces around me. Remix and Eevee sit patiently on the dining room rug. Their impulse training at a young age has created better manners than Dino. Although we can't fault Dino for his impatience - he is old and deserves to be a spoiled brat. We make our way to the back door. One at a time they bolt outside for their first potty break of the day. I walk back to the living room to release Courage from his crate, letting him out into the cold morning as well. Courage prefers to have a midnight bathroom break so he is restricted to his "bedroom" overnight. While the kids sniff, run, and relieve themselves; I pop down into the basement to turn on the heater and start breakfast prep.

Courage, Remix, and Eevee in their Dog Room - Feb 2024

I created a "dog room" downstairs to separate some of the chaos from our rather organized home. My partner isn't really a dog person, so I do my best to create as much peace in the house as possible. (Choosing herding breeds truly wasn't a "peaceful" choice.) The dog room has three crates for the youngest dogs - Courage, Remix, and Eevee. Each crate has a water bowl and is their own space to relax and eat. Courage and Remix have blankets, but Eevee prefers to shred any comfort items. Courage has to eat his food off the ground because of his chin acne. Metal or plastic bowls irritate his skin. He's broken two ceramic bowls; so it's safest to place his kibble loose in his room. Courage and Remix both have restrictive diets because of their skin issues. Their food container sits closest to their crates. Eevee and Dino can eat just about anything, so they share a different bag kibble. A table sits on the far end with kongs, peanut butter, supplements, and utensils.

After the heater is turned on, I circle back up the stairs to let all the dogs back in. Being winter right now, it's a bit too cold to leave them unattended outside for a long period. I close the door to our stairway; separating Dino from the main floor and keeping the other three downstairs with me. Heading back to the dog room to portion food, Remix and Eevee are the most excited for their first meal. First I portion Dino and Eevee's kibble. Dino has a slow feeder to prevent puking or bloating. Dino also gets a handful of supplements to promote brain and joint health. All four get a spoonful of canned salmon to improve their coats/skin. Eevee goes into her kennel and is closed up with her breakfast while I prep the last two meals. Remix is always waiting inside his kennel, while Courage paces. Courage has decided the main floor of the house is his "safe space" instead of his crate (which used to be his favorite refuge). It's a good sign to see, but makes meal times difficult. I add an L-theanine supplement to Courage's pile of kibble- an attempt to lower his cortisol levels and reduce his daily, constant stress. Putting the salmon back into our mini-fridge, I grab Dino's bowl and the dirty spoon to head back upstairs. Dino waits anxiously for his bowl to be set down. He stays loose on the main floor during breakfast. He needs space to eat, settle, and then alone time to do his morning stretches.

Dino after a Swim - Aug 2023

Dino is currently the oldest at 13 years. He is an Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler) and a very grumpy old man. Dino was my first dog. I adopted him 8 years ago when I first lived on my own. We've been through a lot of adventures together. Dino is that ideal "man's best friend". I never trained him. He never leaves my side. He would never run away, chew up the house, or get himself into trouble. He does, however, struggle with his emotions. I started my education as a dog trainer a little too late into Dino's adulthood. By the time I figured out what would adjust his behavior, he was entering seniorhood and struggling with pain.

Every morning we stretch out his back and hips. He has arthritis around the joints that connect his rear legs to his hip bones. A few vertebrae are being slowly consumed by arthritis as well. We have a small platform to stretch his spine with upward and downward dog positions. A little yoga, if you will. We also practice touching all four of his paws with his nose, reaching his nose to his hips, and reaching his nose between his front legs towards his stomach. On warmer days, we go for short walks to keep him active. When I have the money, we go swimming and/or see his physical therapist for acupuncture. On his good days, he loves running laps around the yard, wrestling with me or Remix, and rolling on his back on the rugs or the grass. On his bad days, he doesn't move from one of his many orthopedic beds. He gets bully sticks and I sit on the ground with him. Dino always pushes himself to be "healthy". It's in his nature to not stop moving until he literally can't. He tends to over-exert himself in the yard, or moving quickly through the house. We have to make sure he's the last one through the door so he doesn't collide with the younger dogs on accident.

Dino's favorite moments are the times he gets to be alone with me. He would prefer to be an only child. This is another reason the younger dogs go into their rooms for an hour during meals. Not only for peaceful eating; but so Dino can have a few moments without chaos. I take this time to wake up with him, completing my morning routine. Right before letting the other three kids back upstairs (and working out myself), we go through his stretches slowly. He shakes off at the end and feels much looser.

Remix waiting his turn at Agility Class - June 2023

Remix is the middle child (4 years old) and the second dog I adopted. He is a Corgi mix. Mixed with what? I was told Australian Shepherd, but who knows. I found him through a Craigslist ad at the beginning of COVID lockdowns. He was 6 months old. His owners at the time were moving out of state and could not bring him with them. I was searching for a puppy to practice with since my internship for school was put on hold. Together, Remix and I experienced potty training, life skills, and lots of tricks for the first time in both of our lives. Remix was a mild puppy. Potty training was easy, even in the apartment we lived in at the time. He didn't love the crate at first but took to it very well after many training games. Teaching him new skills is always easy and fast. Remix loves to work! He loves being directed through a pattern of tasks and will pose perfectly for pictures. His leash skills will always need work since we never made a good habit of walking. He does tend to shout when excited, but we are working through it. Remix is my pride and joy; the puppy I raised and molded into a perfect house pet.

Eevee socializing and working on confidence at a group class - Aug 2023

Eevee is the youngest at 3 years old. She is a mixture of Australian Cattle Dog, Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, and LOTS of sass. She is the only female dog I will ever own. I adopted Eevee after we bought a house. Dino was recently diagnosed with spinal issues and I was panicking. I searched for a young cattle dog to play with Remix and replace Dino prematurely. It's not a healthy or wise choice, but I have a mental breakdown every time Dino injures himself. Eevee was a lovely addition to our family. She is sociable with other dogs and proved useful at the daycare/training facility I worked at at the time. She was, however, terrified of people. When I brought her home, we spent the day in our basement living room. Once my partner came home that day, Eevee proceeded to panic and poop all over the floor. She pooped every time she saw him for two more days. Not to worry though! They are now best friends and Eevee loves my partner more than me. Eevee has grown to be more curious when meeting people and LOVES to be the center of attention.

She refuses to work or try any sports. She gets bored with any training games very quickly. The activities she loves most are nail trims, wrestling, and digging holes in my backyard. Eevee and I argue a lot. She has taught me how to get creative with motivators and training approaches. She taught me to compromise and love independent dogs. She won't be the active, sporty dog I hoped to have. But she is fun, goofy, full of personality, and teaches me patience. Plus, we have Remix to do sports and tricks with!

Courage the Cowardly Dog with his new collar - Jan 2023

Courage is the foster fail. A 5 year old border collie mix found on the streets as a puppy. Once a year, he bounced into new foster homes until he landed in our house. By that time, he had spent over a year at the facility I worked at and wasn't used to living in a house anymore. I took him in to attempt to find him a home but realized that he was too stressed for any more changes. Our first obstacle was re-potty training. That was easy enough, but his behavioral setbacks were more difficult. Courage isn't a forward or "aggressive" dog. He is terrified of the world and never truly understood living with humans. He prefers dogs over people. When someone different is in the house, he paces and hides. It took months for the two of us to have an actual relationship instead of a "mutual understanding". Courage is the kind of dog where once you truly earn his trust, it is the biggest honor in the world. Being able to witness his zoomies, play with him, and receive his cuddles - it's a side of him I only get to see. He's too uncomfortable with walks, socializing, or anything outside of his routine. We always work towards confidence, but we never push Courage to be a dog he is not. He is happiest at home, in his yard, digging holes with Eevee, and booping me with his nose to ask to play.

All four of the kids bring a different purpose to our lives. They all share toys, argue like siblings, fight over my attention, and bring a smile to our faces. After breakfast, they have "morning zoomies" while I work out in the living room. They tug together, chew on nylabones, throw toys at me, and get in my way.

Remix, Dino, Courage, & Eevee on "place" - Feb 2024

Once I've fed myself and brushed my teeth, I take a moment to work on our relaxation protocols: A training plan I learned recently from another trainer that promotes calm mannerisms. All four "place" on rugs (or the one big rug) and lay calmly while I create distractions. They each get a single treat for staying on "place" while I walk around, knock on the door, and count to various numbers. This daily activity helps to create more polite behavior when I have guests over. Socializing is something I neglect the most since I prefer to live the life of a hermit. Numerous health issues have also left me bedridden for periods of time. But when I'm healthy, I work the dogs.

Training is for life. We always need to refresh our skills when we've been out of practice. I'm always challenging and improving my dogs as they show interest in different activities or situations. We try new things, we experiment. As I grow as a person, so do my dogs. My children grow up, they mature. They have experiences that shape their reactions and interests. I wouldn't spend my time any other way.

After about 10 minutes of relaxation practice, I gather my things and head to our home office. In the moments that I'm typing all of this, Dino and Courage are sprawled on the floor behind me. They are napping and awaiting the next activities of the day. Eevee and Remix are in the living room. They are much less dependent on me. Eevee is window watching; a trait from her livestock guardian breeds. She will occasionally bark and frantically run from the window. When she sees a person outside, she gets scared and sprays her anal glands. Another behavior we are working on. Remix is chewing on one of the various nylabones. He doesn't sleep unless I do.

We'll spend the day at home since I have no appointments today. It is a colder day. Snow and ice still litter the ground, slowly melting as the sun shines. I will likely go outside in the afternoon to toss a ball and scoop the never-ending piles of poop. All the dogs love their goofy free time in the yard. We will do one more relaxation practice later in the day since I have the time.

Enjoying the sun after a weekend of snow - Feb 2024

At 6:00 pm dinner time, chaos begins again. I always let them outside while I set up the heater in their dog room. Then back inside, to their designated floors. This time Dino "earns" his kibble instead of eating out of the bowl. I toss single pieces of kibble on one of his beds while I cook and eat dinner. He tends to get more anxious in the evenings- excited for bedtime. If we went to sleep at 7:00 pm, he would be the happiest dog in the world. I unfortunately prefer a 9:oo or 10:00 bedtime, so I work his brain during dinner to reduce his anxious barking. He has to "auto-place" or he gets no rewards. It is an easy trick to get his brain thinking, problem-solving, and displaying behaviors without prompts. As he stays on his bed, without being asked, he gets two or three pieces of kibble periodically. Keeps him out of the kitchen, out from under me while I eat, and calms him down so we can have a peaceful evening.

Dino on his "place" while I clean dishes - Feb 2024

Around 7:00 pm, all four of the kids are in the living room with us. My partner and I watch TV while the dogs fight over space on the couch to lay on us. They continue their shenanigans of tugging, chewing, wrestling, and pestering the humans for attention. These are moments I lazily play with my dogs. Sneaking in small training games when we tug or fetch. Maybe we do some grooming if their nails are long or I notice a lot of hair on my couch. A time to bond with my children.

We do one last potty break before settling into bed. Courage goes into his living room crate with a blanket and a chew toy. Remix, Eevee, and Dino all argue with us about being on the bed. There's barely enough room, so they take turns snuggling. By the time we fall asleep, Dino is on his "old man bed" across from ours, Eevee has made a nest on the couch, and Remix has found a spot between my partner and me. We are all safe, cozy, and happy in our home.

As the sun rises, the morning begins, and we do it all over again. Every day is joyful and full of purpose.

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About the Creator

Kylie Jane

Dog Mom of Four. CCPDT-KA Dog Trainer.

Gratitude Blogging and sharing knowledge

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  • Test2 months ago

    Impressive work! Well written!

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