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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog Yard Tour

Sunrise over Oake Lake

The clematis vine in full bloom greets you at the main entrance to the dog yard.

The dogs have an excellent view of the lake.

The main yard with gates connecting to the play areas

The huskies are in the upper pens.

The Inuit Dogs are in the lower pens closer to the lake.

A clematis vine in full bloom greets you from the main entrance to the dog yard. It is attached to a wood picket fence and just beyond it is the first kennel. This narrow strip acts as a "runway" for the dogs in the back kennels to gain access to the main yard. Behind the clematis is a metal plant hanger adorned with wind chimes to provide occasional entertainment for the dogs on windy days.

There are seven kennels in the main yard ranging from 10x20 to an irregular approximately 20x40. Each kennel has enough houses for each canine occupant which ranges from two to four. In the bigger kennels there are ramp-like play structures for dogs to climb up on and sun bathe and there are cubby holes for hiding. Wooden fence panels provide extra shade and they supplement the numerous trees and shrubs around the yard. Many of the trees are volunteers that just happened to seed in the appropriate place. They're free, they look nice and they provide shade for the dogs. You can't beat that! A landscaping shade cloth is affixed to the top rails of a far back kennel providing shade that the trees do not. This entire area had been a very fertile garden site for many years prior to our arrival so it tends to be a very sunny spot. The 100 year old Oak tree on the lake side of the dog yard helps keep out the morning sun.

Some kennels contain 65 gallon sheep tanks purchased at the local farm supply store. They are sturdy enough to remain in the kennels, low enough to the ground so the dogs can easily jump in and contain enough water so that they can stay as cool as they choose. Only about 1/3 of the dogs enjoy taking a dip. Journey is the water dog of the bunch. She jumps in, twirls around, flops down and splashes. The remainder are more reserved, only getting their feet wet while those that are just too sophisticated to get even their feet wet, just take a drink from the side and whisper and point when the other "so-called" sled dogs are caught enjoying the water.

The main yard leads to two very large play areas that each group of dogs enjoys on a daily basis. Here, several dogs can be out at once and stay in touch with each other if not living together. This is very important for the team dynamic. However, there are dogs that can not be out together and those combinations must be managed more closely in the team setting once we hit the trail.

The play area just behind the main dog yard has a very steep incline, making for a very tiring game of fetch(yes, there are some sled dogs that fetch!). The larger play area is within the confines of our backyard and has a very tired three tier retaining wall system with each tier having a different "experience" for the dogs. The top level contains a long row of 40 year old Blue Spruce trees that act as tunnels in places for various agility games. The second tier is filled with large shrubs that the dogs hide in and under. The first tier used to be a very abundant perennial garden that was given up on after the first year we arrived. Now it is filled with the remnants of those plants with an occasional blossom and holes deep enough that only a tail can be seen when the digging takes place.

There is an extra kennel in this portion of the yard which comes in handy when swapping dog groups or for those dogs getting to spend that extra special time that evening in the house. Since we don't want to wake the entire yard, they sleep in this kennel just outside the back door when bedtime arrives. And we are looking forward to using it for a puppy play pen very soon once they are old enough to get out and about. These little guys are due to be born within the week!

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