Feeding Fifteen Dogs
By Patricia Walter 2007
It's 6 am and the first doggie alarm goes off. Lucky the
Aussie, who lives in the basement, starts the first round of reminders - bark,
short howl, bark-bark.
The Digger Brothers, seventy-pound Lab mixes, chime in with a low barf barf
and a high-pitched howl. Millie, the mixed sheltie terrier, decides to start
dancing in her crate and starts a high-pitched whine. My husband and I both
shout in unison "be quiet and go lay down." The command falls on deaf doggie
Ted gives in and drags himself out of bed with Charlie the
chipper Springer following him and talking the whole way, Sparky the mixed Husky
bouncing up and down, and PJ the sausage like Corgi whining. He opens the door
to the large fenced yard and Charlie races the whole length barking all the way.
Millie is released from her beloved crate and immediately jumps on Mom's bed to
cuddle. Crazy Nikki the mixed Springer circles, kisses Mom's hand and is off
like a shot out the front door to inspect the yard.
Buddy the large, black Belgium Sheepdog mix can't decide
to stay in bed, bark and tell everyone to be quiet or go for a short run
outside. Meanwhile, the rest of us sleepyheads want to go back to sleep. The
Digger brothers decide it is time to go and see if there are any deer to bark
at. If no deer are available, they entertain themselves barking at any of our
The outside excursion is over and everyone decides to lie
back down for a few more minutes. The snooze might last fifteen minutes or sixty
minutes; it really depends on the morning. A dark, rainy morning might give us
an hour snooze while a bright, sunny morning will allow only a short nap. The
birds are singing, the deer are waiting and the cats are meowing for their
The house erupts with barking once again and I give in,
get up and get dressed. It's another doggie day at the Walter's.
Robbie, the blind Sheltie, is first to go outside for a bark-fest. The
smaller dogs that love to bark usually accompany him. Katie, the crippled
Aussie, has the loudest high, pitched howl I have ever heard. She starts a
non-stop howling session at things unseen to human eyes and only known to Aussie
ears. Nikki and Millie play a herding game to decide who is boss of the deck.
The first doggie group finishes their business and comes
back into the house with great enthusiasm and barking. Mom and Dad constantly
yell "Be Quiet" or a more aggressive command to "Shut Up." Neither work to quell
the barking for long. Breakfast is close at hand and everyone is excited.
The older dogs go outside to wait for breakfast. Lucky,
the Aussie leads the pack while the fourteen-year-old girls slowly start to move
their arthritic old legs. Molly the old Border collie can hardly see or hear,
but can still bark doggie commands. She is trying to herd the pack, which has
long gone off the deck and far down into the yard.
I start to prepare food for the two Digger Brothers in the
garage and their three cat friends. All the doggies love to eat and have no
preference to brand or kind of dog food. We feed a high quality lamb and rice
mixture with a dollop of canned food on top to make breakfast interesting. The
Digger Brothers are fed first while the cats meow and whine for their little
dishes of very smelly cat food. Everyone in the garage is finally happy and
Meanwhile, the older dogs left outside are barking like
crazed animals at a deer standing at the fence. It is our resident deer that
loves to stand three foot from the fence and stare at the dogs. I am not sure if
she is telling the dogs "I Love You" or "You are a bunch of stupid, loud mouth
jerks." Either way, the dogs bark back a message, "We would eat you up if we got
out of our fence."
Breakfast food bowls are now ready for the second wave of
doggies. Sweetie, the Terrier mix is jumping straight up and down in the air
trying to inspect the counter to get a glimpse of the food bowls. Molly the old
Border Collie just barks telling everyone it is breakfast time. Nikki runs back
and forth from the bedroom to the kitchen in an effort to speed up the whole
process. Kelly the fourteen, year old Golden mix just crooks out a bark or two.
She is old and that is all the energy she can afford to expend to ask for
Robbie, the blind dog, eats a private meal in the kitchen
so no one can steal his food. The three girls eat in my bedroom where no one
else will bother them. Nikki eats in her open crate. Katie lies down to eat
since her legs are crippled and silly Sweetie feasts in the corner. Kelly dines
by herself in our dinning room while old Molly eats privately in my computer
room. The upstairs is quiet again.
Meanwhile, my husband is feeding the third wave of dogs in
the basement. Charlie the mouthy Springer is excitedly barking about the
upcoming feast. Sparky is dancing and going in circles in anticipation while PJ,
the fat sausage-like Corgi, does a little loud yip. Finally all three bowls are
placed on the floor for a feast.
Charlie inhales the food, Sparky slowly chews every single
little piece and PJ eats at a normal pace. Having finished breakfast, the three
run upstairs where I open the door and they join the upstairs crew. Meanwhile,
Ted lets the last wave of dogs into the basement for breakfast.
Lucky, the Aussie, and Buddy, the mixed Belgium Sheepdog,
are both non-stop, loud barkers. They will quite down for a short time when the
bowls are full and ready for feasting. Old Pepper, the other Golden Mix, joins
them for their morning meal.
Finally, calm settles over the Walter household.
All fifteen dogs and three cats are fed. They all settle down for a nice
nap after breakfast. Meanwhile, the humans are still in a morning fog and
wondering why dogs want to eat at 7 am.