For most of my life, the part where I worked for some corporation or other, I had no dogs around me because I didn’t want any. I have never been anti dog but I was definitely indifferent toward them and small dogs did not have any appeal at all to me. Angie had a small dog in the past and always wanted another but didn’t press the issue. Then during a particularly difficult part of nursing study, I offered a dog as a reward. Sadly for Angie the little dog decided he liked me better and I couldn’t remember why I ever wanted to resist such an adorable creature. Cota and me and spent a lot of time together; we went to the park almost every day. I decided I would build him a park of his own and started a search for suitable land. I imagine that this all seems a bit much but that’s OK.
Eventually we did purchase land and started to build a small park. Actually I built a house first and then worked on the park. It had a variety of trees and there were lots of plans to do this and that. In the mean time we acquired other animals, ducks, geese, llamas, chickens and then some lambs. The park was sacrificed to the sheep as they ate the trees, yes, they ate the trees. All the while Cota seemed to enjoy the country side and chasing the ducks and chickens.
So, moving into the present, the park turned into a small farm and we now have eight dogs! Most of these dogs I consider farm employees, they are in fact working dogs and the latest dogs to arrive saved our farm from predators that ate nearly all of our other animals.
Had I known at the time I designed and built our modest home that we would have so many dogs I would have made very many changes to the house we have now. We rely greatly on our dogs for security, help moving the sheep around, and companionship. We don’t put chains on our dogs or keep them in cages, they move freely about the farm as we do. The small dogs sleep in the house while the large dogs, which are breed to handle the elements, sleep outside. They have houses but don’t always sleep in them, they are on duty even during rough weather, they are well suited to their positions here on the farm.
In times past, when people had a relationship with animals, relied on them for food, labor, clothing, fertilizer for crops, protection and even heat in the winter, they lived with their animals. Before we had the luxury of barns, living quarters were built above the animal shelters. This was a very practical home design much like the convenience of having garages integrated into modern houses.
There are homes nearby us that even today use similar designs for certain valued and loved livestock, usually llamas, alpacas or horses. It is interesting to note that these homes are generally in the upper price range, with heated mud rooms and areas for animal health care.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately and have already begun remodeling our home to be more supportive of the way we live. There are limits to how much I can change our house and we don’t need to move our livestock in with us, but there are some changes that would greatly benefit us, make our daily chores easier and allow our dogs to have more access to us without sacrificing our furniture or having to constantly clean up after them. I’ll go into more detail later about changes to the house, but we have just got our first piece of cabinetry that will make it easier to feed so many dogs every day. Typical kitchen cabinets don’t allow for the storage and handling of large quantities of bulk dry food, so I designed a piece that will replace the standard under counter cabinet.