Welcome to our Doggy Diary – posts are written to provide an insight into the secret world of NBKC and its operations. The content is confidentially shareable but only to mad dog owners and the like.
NBKC staff will split into two teams for the ‘uptime’ morning rituals at the kennels. While some purple people work with the larger dogs, others focus on the smaller dogs. This entry is about the latter.
#1 – The small dog ‘up’ routine – approx 8 am.
It’s a simple Aussie shed. Garage to the right, ‘Xav’s’ lean-to on the left. A musty yellow paint job, cream roller door, and trim of green. The shed is accruing years and is not fancy by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it is perfectly unassuming in its plainness.
Sidebar: A weedy and untidy moustache will often grow from the shed’s east side guttering. Debris from the old peppercorn tree provides the perfect mulch into which seeds can sprout.
However, a plain and moustached shed is ALWAYS functional, and we are certain that ours could tell many stories about its (re-purposing) journey from the Soldier Settlement era to today.
We would lay odds, however, that the original builders of the shed had no clue as to what it would shield from the weather when NBKC became its master in the year 2000. They may have raised a shaggy eyebrow, or two.
Why the eyebrow skywards? Let us explore!
Disclaimer. Our stories are non-specific to particular guests. Your dog MIGHT be the inspiration for a paragraph or two…But, then again, maybe not!
The inside of the shed
A deafening blast greets you when up goes the roller door.
‘Oh bark at you, bark at you, good morning, wherein the cats-claws have you been? We are busting!’
[Repeat x 50]. All in ‘doggy’ speak of course.
The cacophony is an endangerment to ears, and donning noise-reducing ear-muffs (red, because we all know this colour acts faster) deadens the sound. Of course, there are certain guests whose high pitched squarks can penetrate the red earmuffs and loosen the wax that lines the ear canal.
Before placing another paw forward, we must state, unequivocally that (as any kennel owner/worker will attest) the working life of an animal attendant revolves around the waste product/s of our guests. We take poop very seriously. After all, it is one of the most reliable indicators of the health and well-being of our guests.
Here is a very cute animation to watch. Ralph Pooping.
So, if excrement tales make you squeamish, we invite you to click on the small x to close this page! Seriously, offended we won’t be.
Our workers are well aware that noise is not the only thing that greets them when the roller door goes skywards. The wave of air that tickles the nose hair, is an indicator of what is in store for today’s cleaner of the crates.
Please note: we never, ever, judge our guests. After all, it is a hard task to hang on to stuff that simply wants to come out. And dogs can’t help that their natural body rhythms don’t align with NBKC’s schedules. Or, vice-versa.So, no judging.
Enough digressing, the dogs are busting (and barking)!
Dog crates – stacked two high, line the shed walls. There are 34 crates in total, but rarely fully occupied – unless it is ‘peak’ season. When they ARE full, the noise is so thick you feel like you are wading through Jelly!
The crates are large enough to comfortably fit (in a sitting manner) a Great Dane. However, ‘space’ guidelines forbid large dogs from sleeping in our shed during the night. It is the ‘toy’ or ‘small’ (5 to 15 kg) dogs who enjoy ample room to bounce around with impatience, super excited about their morning uptime.
The yard board
Taking a picture of the ‘yard board’, before approaching the shed, certainly streamlines the uptime process. That way, with quick referencing, workers know into which yard the dog/s belong.
The collective term for a group of dogs is a ‘pack’. A ‘pack’ comes fully loaded with leaders, followers, observers, recalcitrants, talkers, singers, demure souls, avoiders and sometimes ADHD (or the human equivalent) – to name but a few behaviours. Almost comparable to an everyday, mortal, schoolyard.
These behaviours are what we watch for to ensure we have playgroups sorted harmoniously.
The ‘yard board’ is a whiteboard (located in our kitchen/feed area) and shows a plan of the property. Every guest appears on the board, allocated to a yard and in a suitable hound pack. To the untrained eye, it looks like an unruly jumble of pretty colour scribbles. However, there are some serious chin-scratching decisions and in-depth conversations behind the scrawls.
Different colour whiteboard markers represent varying ‘stay’ levels.
- red is ‘remaining’,
- green is ‘arriving’,
- blue is ‘departing’,
- black is a Doggy Day Out guest,
- purple is Nathalia DDO and
- orange is a daycare.
Yes, we spend a lot of time rubbing out, re-writing and switching markers around.
We underpin the profit margins of Staedtler!
The first task, before releasing dogs from their crates, is to feed breakfast and/or medications to dogs who require it. Of course, ‘food’ adds to the excitement and the noise level skates upward a few decibels.
There are a few ‘types’ when it comes to eating breakfast. Some look at the food, then back at you as if to say,
‘Jump, jump at you. What in the cats-nails is that? Sniff, nope, not now. Stamp my foot. Bark at you. Just get me outta here!’
Then there is the ‘hoover’ who inhales the food, and, without missing a beat, continues with their noisy demand for escape. Some jump on the edge of their bowl spreading the said contents across the bedroom floor. Others will delicately eat their breakfast, ignoring all that is going on around them.
Ok, breakfast is over, now it is yard time!
As we release dogs, we take note of the condition of their crate. For the crate cleaner (as mentioned) the state of the doggy bedrooms can forecast the approximate amount of time it will take to sort them. Either a short and sharp cleaning experience or a long and arduous one.
A good day of crate cleaning means that there are no messes, or maybe just a wee ‘wee’ accident. We like these days.
But hurry, the hubbub is beginning to rattle the ratchets holding the tin roof together.
For our crate dogs, there are two distinct ways of getting them to their yards.
ONE: Loop Leash Walk
Dogs who play in the yards in the middle of the driveway are ‘loop leashed’ walked to their destination. Come on now, they don’t play ON the road, I know what you were thinking!
This leashed walk is often accompanied by an impromptu, and at times lengthy (toe tapping) toilet break.
Good dog for holding on!
TWO: The Trot / Herd
The other way to reach their designated yard is to allow them to trot along through a series of gates.
That sounds very sedate doesn’t it ‘trotting along’? Banish that calm and obedient scene from your imagination. It is usually, and most assuredly a little bit on the mayhem side of chaotic! (Of course, as a professional business, we would never admit to such mild disorderly conduct at our establishment).
Admittedly, there is an art to herding small dog packs, and all who work for NBKC learn this the hard way. The learning process is harmless, but language can turn blushingly colourful.
Here’s the secret, only let two or three (at the most) out of a crate at any one time. Releasing more than three is an open invitation to the game of doggy-dodgem. Canines race around in dizzying circles, crashing into each other and using their inbuilt radar to avoid human hands. It is a fantastic game, and they love it!
Yeeee-ha! Run, sniff, bark, ooh, wee here, ohhhhhh, that’s better! Run, bark, dodge, sniff that butt. Dodge those purple people hands. Oh what fun! Wait, what, where are you going? Out there? Wait for me!
So let’s just stick to 2 or 3, to avoid this canine conundrum, shall we?
Of course, in a perfect world our guests would stoically respond to commands (sit, stay etc), but it is simply too noisy in our old shed to hear commands, it is too exciting to respond, and let’s face it, they love the uptime so why ruin their fun?
Their joy of release and greeting rituals is heart-warming to witness as they go about the first round of their designated yard.
Doggy hello’s all around.
The yard ‘gate’ (no matter which yard), is a magical thing. Dogs will congregate at them, like bees ’humzing’ around a honey pot. It is, after all, the mystic portal to nourishment, purple people and humans in cars.
Yes, let’s hang here, be seen, be cool. Dude! Bark at you, be cool!
Because of this attraction to the gate, the placement of guests into their yards (and out from) can be a challenging mission, but never, ever, dull!
A handful of our smaller guests (and they know who they are) are well known to staff for their inherent ability to blithely teleport themselves through gates. Even with the most concerted effort on behalf of the humans, these mercurial nimble-footed creatures somehow materialise on the other side (wrong side) before one can blink.
How on earth?!
That is why our small dog yards are all double-gated. (Actually ALL yards) Meaning that there are still one or more gates between them and dashing freedom.
The jail-breaker is always, without a doubt, tail-waggingly gleeful about their escape. If I were to hazard a guess, this is their thought process:
“yep, yep, the latch is opening, opening… come on human, hurry up… one human foot in, now another. Wag my tail, that’s it, wag it. Do a loop, yep, they like that. Watch the feet, watch the feet, waiting, wagging, looping… watch the feet, watching… oh there it is! Test the space, ah thwarted! Keep wagging, twirl twirl, THERE it is again, ready, set…, GO! Yay! Whoo-hoo cat lover! I fooled you! Now, I am off! Wait. What? Another fence? Maybe this gate is open? Nope, let’s try this one. Gah, cats- paws! Nooooo, wait, don’t lift me up and over the fence. Oh shoot, I am back where I started from. Bark at you! Wait, is that a new butt? Let’s smell, nope, I have smelt that one before. Come on human, bring it on, let’s go gate again!”
If the escapee is from a high fenced yard, then staff can utilise the peculiar ‘gate opening tool’ that hangs nearby. The common moniker for this tool is: ‘water spray bottle’. By the time the dogs have figured out that the water won’t hurt them, we can slip another dog into (or out of) the yard with relative ease. Bless!
Note: Some dogs actually ENJOY the water, so it is not a trick that will work on every occasion!
Right, the little dogs are now settled for the day. Whew!
Now, let’s turn our attention to the big boys-n-girls.
Until next time…