Friday, June 29, 2012

Small Stuff

My R&R from work is growing short and I had several errands to run in town during business hours.  My day started at 6:00 so I could do my morning kennel chores (feeding, scooping and watering) before breakfast, and then heading into Fairbanks to take care of 'stuff'.

My first stop was the DMV office, to register the trailer I bought at the Alyeska surplus auction and renew my driver's license.  Of course any trip to DMV requires tedious paperwork and incessant waiting.  While waiting I noticed that one particular clerk, the lady at Station 6, was processing the needs of 3 people for every 1 that any other clerk was helping.  I lucked out when my number was called to her counter.  Even though I had to fill out yet another form (the one I'd downloaded from the official DMV site wasn't formatted properly) she still had everything dealt with in short order.  I walked out of the office with my registration papers, new title and shiny new driver's license after a total time of only about an hour and 1/2. 

From there I was off to the barber shop for my monthly haircut and gossip session.  Once again I was waiting in line, but at least the guys waiting for their turn are entertaining, each in his own way.  I think I spent probably 45 minutes or so there.  After solving the world's problems and confirming once again that all politicians and bureaucrats are either on the take or are damned fools, I was off to my next stop.

I've been trying to find some new galvanized steel wash tubs for the dog yard all R&R.  Everyplace I'd expected to find them just flat don't carry them anymore.  Plastic has largely replaced the sheet metal containers of the past, but plastic doesn't hold up particularly well to dog's teeth.  My last hope was Samson Hardware, with a reputation for having everything anyone living off the grid could possibly need.  Sure enough, they had the tubs so I was set.

Then it was off to the feed store for 10 bags of dog food, about a month's supply.  Next was the grocery store for some supplies I'll need at work and a few odds and ends to get through the weekend here at the house.  I filled the fuel tank in the little motorized roller-skate that passes for my 'casual car' (as opposed to the huge, expensive to drive dog truck) and headed for home.

After unloading the car I was able to turn my attention back to the dog yard and my ongoing kennel renovation project.  During summer I run a garden hose out to the yard as it's much more convenient than hauling water in buckets.  The faucet for the hose is on the west end of my house, and the dog yard on the east end, so it has to run full length of the house just to get to the dog yard.  With the newly expanded kennel, I decided it's more convenient to run it across the back rather than front, so I moved it today.  Sure enough, I've gained about 10 feet additional length and can more easily reach every pen and circle in the yard. 

I house about half my dogs in pens, and other half on post / swivel tether systems that provide each dog a full circle of over 100 square feet in which to engage in the full range of species typical behaviors such as running, jumping, digging and so forth.  They are spaced so that dogs can interact with their neighbors yet easily disengage if tempers flare.  While I could never recommend tethering a single dog in an isolated area such as an urban or suburban neighborhood, when multiple dogs are tethered in this manner it provides considerable psychological stimulation while preventing injuries and escapes. 

In the past I've been generously casual about measuring the length of chain on each dog's tether.  The result is a lot of wasted space, as some of those "six foot" tethers are much closer to 7 1/2, and a couple are probably a full 8 feet.  By accurately giving each dog exactly six feet, I can place each center post 10 feet from the fronts of the pens and 14 feet from each other.  This will ensure the most efficient use of space, saving room in the lower part of the yard for a big off-leash or out-of-pen play area. 

It's a bit more complicated than the explanation implies, though.  First, I have to survey the job, measuring and marking the sites for the posts.  Then I have to pull the old posts and pound then into the ground in their new locations.  I have to fill in the smooth over the holes the dogs have dug in their old sites, move their houses into new positions, carefully measure, cut and then reattach each chain.  This evening I was able to let about half the dogs play run-amok in the yard while I surveyed the new positions for the first two posts I'll be moving. 

Having done that, it was time to again feed and water the dogs and scoop the yard before feeding and watering myself.  So, even though none of the various tasks were physically demanding it was a lot of stuff to do in a single day, and I have no reason to complain of my progress. 

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