J will be home in about 36 hours. I can't wait. Not just because I have missed him heaps, which I have, not just because the house is boring without someone else to talk to, not just because I've had to deal with some techno screw ups that he could have fixed in 30 seconds flat, but also because it has been a much bigger deal than I expected to look after the dogs for two weeks.
J's dogs are largely well behaved, house broken, trained dogs. I've lived with them full time since October, and am largely established as a leader of the pack, so they listen to me without too many hassles. So, I thought that two weeks of single parenting would be fine. And it has been. (Knock on wood, my wooden skull, Bolo's wooden skull, anything else I can reach to cancel a jinx.) Mostly. No escapes, injuries, fights, eating dangerous items...
So, given the lack of disasters and catastrophes, why am I so totally worn out? A combination of 1) breed requirements 2) individual requirements 3) responsibility and 4) weather.
1) Breed requirements.
Prior to meeting J and the huskies, I was looking forward to finding myself an apartment, with a balcony full of pot plants and an appropriately sized dog. I was looking at schipperke and griffons. Definitely NOT an athletic working breed like huskies. Dogs that are NOT escape artists, have NO prey drive, DON'T need a gazillion hours of exercise every day and DON'T shed all over the house. This is why I laugh when people admire siberian huskies as lovely dogs. They are a LOT of work. That's why so many of them end up in shelters, and why the rescue groups like NVSDR are so careful about placing them in foster care and fur-ever homes. J has the yard pretty much escape proof, but I still needed to walk the pups as regularly as possible. Sled dogs... DO NOT HEEL. I have skinned and bruised knees to prove that they pull, pull hard and will pull me over if I'm not careful.
2) Individual requirements.
Our four dogs all have different personalities and different needs. Czar and Frankie are dog friendly, so they can both play at the dog park, but need different diets. Bolo has to be walked on a leash, with a muzzle, away from other dogs. He is also LOUD. Especially when he thinks someone else is doing something exciting, like going to play at the P-A-R-K.
But the most annoying aspect is Ishka's limited exercise routine prescribed for her injured ACL. Because we live on a very steep block and she is not allowed to go up and down the back stairs more than necessary, even a simple toilet break is now a multi step process. Previously I just opened the back door and let the dogs out. Now I have to keep Ishka in, let the boys out, shut the kiddy gate to keep them off the stairs (read above and guess what Bolo would do if he could stand at the back door and see Ishka go out on a leash), then take Ishka out the front onto the flat front yard. I can't leave her there, unattended, even on a secure leash, in case she chews it or howls or someone lets their dog get too close. So I have frightened the whole neighbourhood with terrible bed hair and my fluffy dressing gown, and acquired a startling collection of mosquito bites, sitting on the front step at all hours. Ishka, always so happy to please me, has of course, developed a wonderful case of stage fright, and instead sits in the middle of lawn, looking at me. Meanwhile, the boys figure out they're missing something and plaster themselves to the kiddy gate.
This is just the story of toilet breaks, but I'm having to negotiate a similar process every time I contemplate walks, putting them in the dog pen, going into the garden to water or hang washing, leaving them on the deck so I can shower in peace and every time someone enters or leaves the house. And my folks have been very supportive, with my sibs and my mum dropping in a lot, so there have been plenty of exciting visitors. Fortunately, this has paid off, in that my mum especially, is now a regular enough visitor to cause a lot less excitement. Also fortunately, the vets feel Ishka's ACL is benefiting from all the cosseting.
THESE ARE J's BABIES!! How can I be blasé about anything? If I leave a door ajar, a food item lying around, or any of a hundred tiny little things I can't anticipate, the dogs could get themselves into terrible trouble. And although J is a patient, reasonable man who is always the first to say that accidents happen... I would never forgive myself if an accident did.
It is summer. It is hot. Huskies, are ARCTIC breeds. They can't cool themselves down, so they can't run if the weather is over 15 degrees, can't walk if its over 25 degrees, and if its over 35 degrees, we need to keep them inside with the cooling system running. So any walks need to be early in the morning... and I'm not a morning person. Which is complicated when I can't walk all four dogs at once, or in pairs (without getting dragged and skinning my knee), or fit all four separate walks in before I go to work. And then if I need to pop home to put them in the house if its too hot, or let them out for a toilet break, or deal with someone screaming themselves... it makes my days longer and longer.
Of course, when I get a cuddle from one of the pups... it doesn't matter how much hassle they are. And a hug from J in 36 hours will make a BIG difference!