Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kennel Renovation Plans for R&R

I've been at my place of employment for the past 2 weeks, and it is time to start planning projects for my 2-week "R&R", which starts Tuesday morning. Since I'm working night shift, Tuesday is pretty much a wash. I'll do my grocery shopping on the way home in the morning, sleep for a few hours, check my mail, pick up my dogs, and that will pretty much be it for the day. Wednesday I'll start preparing for the "BIG EVENT".

The BIG event will be kennel renovations. Since I plan on having puppies before winter, I need to expand the dog yard to accommodate my share of the pups, and also to provide housing for visiting foster dogs, &c. This is going to require some expensive dump-truck and bulldozer work, so I need to make sure I get all the work that will be needed in one fell swoop.

First, I'll need some more dog houses. I have several sheets of T-111 siding I can use to build some of these, and a an oversized house once used to house goats that I can modify to make a very nice whelping house for Lucky and her litter. I'm calculating that I'll need at least 4 new dog houses, and I actually think that 6 will be better, just in case housing is needed for borrowed 'guests' or to provide a temporary place for foster dogs from one of the area rescue groups.

These are easy to build, as they are nothing more than a plywood boxes with a door, placed on elevated legs made of 2X4 boards. With a thick bed of straw for bedding, these simple plywood houses provide a comfortable accommodate for the dog, a platform on which the dog can perch in the sun or to view its surroundings, and they are inexpensive yet very durable.

I'll need to plant some posts to temporarily tether some of my dogs while we are doing the dirt work. That way I can be confident the dogs are well out of the way of the equipment we'll be using for the project.

Next, I'll need to remove a lot of the fences I put up just last year. With the dozer working around the area they will come down on way or the other, and if I carefully take them down I'll be able to reuse them once the dirt project is completed.

Next, my friend Terry Snow is going to make the earth move. Terry owns Cootbear Enterprises, and when it comes to making the earth move, he's the man. He's a very experienced operator and has the equipment needed to make short work of this project. We will need to fill in a large hole, which will require about 10 truck loads of fill dirt, and then clear out some black spruce trees and undergrowth before grading and compacting the dog yard.

Once the dirt work is done I can install the tether swivels and houses in their permanent locations, rebuild the fence, and it should be good to go.

The end result is intended to be a considerably larger dog yard with more conveniently usable space for housing while conserving the play yard space I worked so hard to create last year.

Of course I will also be tending to the dogs during this R&R, focusing on husbandry and behavior training. All of the young dogs, and some of the older ones, need to work on "line out" and on walking with a loose leash. My up and coming young leaders can also start working on some advanced cues, such as those to turn the team around when we find ourselves at the dead-end of a trail. By laying out the ground work for those behaviors during the off-season we can establish a foundation on which to train the finished behavior once we have snow on the ground.

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