Their day starts at 6:30 a.m. with a small grunt and the quiet scrape of claws against the bottom of a kennel. The grunt, if unattended, turns into a whine, at which point, Smokey will jump off the bed and sit by his sister’s kennel to attend to her needs until one of the humans wakes up to relieve him of his charge. At this point, one of the humans typically does wake up. Which one depends entirely on what day of the week it is (Joe has Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and I have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). If one of the humans doesn’t wake up (mostly this occurs on Saturdays and Sundays), then the whining will escalate to a yelp, at which point, Smokey will put two paws on the side of the bed of whomever’s turn it is to get up early (he has gotten used to the rotation routine) and bark once.

At this point, one of the humans growls but gets up and gets out of bed in a whisper of grumbled cursing and rustling sheets. The human will go over and let Shelby out of her kennel, and the three of them will walk down the steps to begin the morning.

While Shelby gets her leash fastened, Smokey ambles over to his bowl to get a drink of water and await his turn to go outside. Shelby goes out, and when she comes back in, she gets fed her breakfast, so she can happily munch unattended and unhindered while Smokey goes out. When Smokey comes back in, he gets fed his breakfast, and Shelby gets dessert in the form of a quick training session.

By this time, the other human is typically awake, showered, dressed and ready to take charge of the four-legged family while the other human gets ready for work. Normally, while the new human wakes and watches the two on the couch, play ensues.

Joe leaves at 7:30 a.m., and if I have things to finish, like putting on makeup, Shelby sits in the bathroom with me and chews on a Nylabone or a Kong while I get ready, and Smokey takes a nap downstairs.

At 7:50, Shelby gets taken out again for a brisk walk and training session. At 8:10, she goes into her kennel with whatever toys she is allotted that day, and Smokey gets leashed up for his twenty-minute walk or play session. If we catch the neighbor dog Ben coming back from taking his kid to the bus stop, Smokey and Ben play, if not, we go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood and work on trying not to pull mommy like a Husky would pull his sled.

By 8:30, we are back in the house, his Kong Wobble is filled with the other half of his breakfast, and I am out the door.

Between 8:30 when I leave and 5:15 when Joe gets home, Smokey eats his breakfast and then goes upstairs to sleep on the bed next to Shelby’s kennel. I know this for a fact, because on the few occasions I have had to run back home because I forgot something, I have found him there. Sometimes, he even brings his Kong Wobble upstairs to play with, so he can keep Shelby company and finish breakfast all at the same time (evidenced by the stubbed toe I received when kicking the big red piece of plastic in the dark when it was wedged under the bed one night).

On days when my neighbor’s MS isn’t too bad, she comes over and lets Shelby and Smokey out to play with Ben for an hour or so around noon, but for the most part, I imagine the two of them nap the day away (what a rough life they have).

At 5:15, when Joe comes home, he lets Shelby out first, then, while he takes Smokey out, he gives Shelby what we like to call “first dinner”. While Shelby finishes first dinner, Smokey gets a short, ten minute or so training session. While daddy relaxes from a long day at work, the two rascals play, glad that Shelby has finally been let out into society again.

When I get home at 6:30, I greet the dogs, put my things down, then start dinner. While I cook dinner and do the dishes, I work on perfecting their stays by clicking and treating them for staying out of the kitchen and out from under my feet. When they tire of training, I release them to go play with daddy, who wrestles and tugs with them on the living room floor.

“Second dinner” for Shelby and first dinner for everyone else happens at about 7:30. When the dogs are finished theirs, they come into the living room and lay down with a bone or a toy and get treats thrown their way for laying quietly and behaving while we finish dinner. After clean up, we relax by putting on a movie or playing a video game while the two romp around the room. Whenever it gets too rough, or someone starts to growl a little too much, we split them up and hold them in stays in separate rooms for two minutes before they are released to begin again.

At around 9:00, the more serious training happens. Tired and a tad hungry from play, they are more focused. Smokey gets put in a sit and a stay in the other room while we train with Shelby. Every once in a while, he gets a click for being such a good boy and a treat thrown in his direction. When it is Smokey’s turn, Shelby gets put in her crate with an antler, a Greenie or a Kong.

At about 9:45, we start to wind down. We watch another episode of MASH (Joe’s pick) or Glee (mine) or finish the movie or video game, and the dogs curl up with their favorite stuffed animals (or on the couch with us) and nap.

By the time 10:30 rolls around, everyone is ready for one last potty break and bed. For this, we normally take them out together, Joe with one, me with the other. We take our time on this walk, allowing them to sniff and play out the last bits of energy they may have for the day while we hold hands and talk about work and bills and all that boring adult stuff.

11:00 comes quicker than anyone expected, but everyone is ready for bed. A simple “night night” and both dogs tear up the steps while Joe locks the door and shuts off the lights. Once upstairs, Shelby gets her “quiet” toys (typically her favorite stuffed animal and a softer bone that doesn’t make too much noise) and goes into her crate with the command “kennel”, though most nights, she doesn’t even need the command and doesn’t touch her bone, she just goes in, curls up with her stuffy and is asleep in moments. Smokey sits in a corner while I make the bed and fluff the pillows, then waits for me to get into my PJs. When I get in bed, I tell him “hop up”, and he jumps up and settles onto Joe’s side of the bed, even though he knows in a few minutes he will get ousted by daddy and have to settle for laying on my feet instead. I guess he figures the few minutes of cuddle time with me is worth the ousting.

At 11:15, we have lights out and mostly we are undisturbed until 6:30 when the routine starts again, though some nights there is a small grunt somewhere between 2:30 and 3:30 where I am roused from my slumber, but that only lasts a moment and then everyone is happily asleep again.

I guess it isn’t ideal, I know it isn’t for me. I wish I could be independently wealthy and spend my days at home playing with my pups. I also wish I could sleep until 7:45, get ready quickly and rush out the door. But I’m not, and life isn’t cheap, but I don’t think my 9-5 dogs have it half bad, nor do I. Routine is, in some ways, their saving grace, part of the reason why they are so well-behaved. They have rehearsed their parts over and over until it has become muscle memory. They know exactly what is coming next. If I was independently wealthy, or I got to sleep in whenever I wanted, they might never know what happens in the next scene, and they might be more of a handful, so in some ways, the stability of our 9-5s (or in Joe’s case 8-5), really helps train them.

I certainly don’t think it is impossible to have multiple dogs and work full time. I definitely think it is a challenge. We don’t get much down time, because we have to make every moment we have with our dogs count. But that’s the sacrifice we are willing to make to have them in our lives. It isn’t for everyone, but it certainly works for us!

 

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