Tag Archives: life with dogs

Cheap dog tips

There’s no doubt that life with dogs is more complicated, messier, and more expensive than without. But it would also be less happy, include fewer smiles, and much less cuddly! Here are some ways we’ve discovered to simplify life with dogs without spending a lot of money:

5 Cheap Dog Tips:

#1 – Have hooks by the door for leashes. One for each dog. And, since it’s always safer for dogs to be naked in the house, keep the leash attached to the dog’s collar or harness. It’s faster to get out the door if you only have to attach one thing.

#2 – Stock up on cheap bath towels. There’s a big box retailer who sells bath towels for about $4 each. If you have a mud room, just keep a stack there to wipe muddy paws and faces. If not (like us), get an over-the-door hanger to keep a couple handy in wet weather.

Cheap dog tip - use yoga mats to save your floors

#3 – Especially if you have an older dog, use yoga mats on hard floors for traction (and to protect your floors!). There’s a retail chain that sells everything for $5 or less and cheap yoga mats do the job just fine. They’re also great to use for your dog’s go-to place!

#4 – Store dog food in a (new) garbage can. With four dogs, we buy large bags of dog food and dump it in a garbage can in the basement. A good scooper lives in the can full time. Up in the kitchen cabinet, we keep a plastic cereal container with the food. Refills are easy and not heavy to carry. 

#5 – Get a set (or two) of measuring cups at your local dollar store. Leave the correct measure in the container of dog food to make sure you’re not over-feeding your dog. Even with years of experience, it’s easy to overestimate the amount you’re feeding unless you measure. If you have more than one dog and they eat different amounts – leave both cups in the container.

We never want to skimp on anything for our dogs, but these are things that are easy to do, make life easier, and don’t have to cost a lot. 

Dogs have chores, too

Dogs have chores, too

Some people enjoy the chores that make a house a home. We wish we were among them, but, for the most part, we consider housework to be a necessary evil. We want a comfy home, so we have to put in the work to make it that way.

Since they are members of the family, our dogs have chores, too.

Picture of a dog doing chores - Tango putting his toys away

What they can actually accomplish is limited by their complete lack of thumbs. Even if we ask them to “go get” something – it has to be something that we don’t mind gets covered in dog slobber.

All of our dogs know “put your toys away” games, and we play at least once a week. It’s not really a “chore” – since we dump the toys out for them to put back in the bin. It’s a dog training game we all love.

Not really useful

Ever since Hope’s French Bulldog Dax broke a tooth “helping” with the vacuuming years ago, the dogs’ assistance is pretty much limited to being cute while we work. Because we don’t really want them:

  • Chasing the dust mop
  • Licking the dishes while we fill the dishwasher
  • Trying to “kill” the evil vacuum
  • Playing tug with the dust cloth

And of course it’s always fun trying to move the furniture while the dogs are jumping on and off. We didn’t really want to clean behind there anyway!

Reason for chores

The dogs’ actual specialty is giving us a reason to do the housekeeping. Like when you hear the unmistakable sounds of a dog being sick at four in the morning. You may not actually have planned to clean the rug that day, but now it’s on the agenda. 

None of our dogs have long fur, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t accumulate if we attempt to ignore it. So the floors get attention.

And just because we don’t have picky eaters, doesn’t mean they’re tidy. Either eating or drinking. Oddly, one of the dogs (not mentioning Simon’s name) doesn’t understand the concept of closing his mouth when he’s done drinking. The puddles he makes are just water, but they still have to be cleaned.

For the ones we love

We may not like doing housework, but making a nice home for the ones you love is motivation enough. Even if they never notice, or care. We know.

Ghosts of dogs gone by

Our homes are filled with the ghosts of dogs gone by. If you’ve loved dogs all your life, chances are the lucky one currently sharing your home is surrounded by phantoms of dogs past.

In one way, that’s a wonderful thing. When your now dog does something adorable that past dogs have done, like the way he wiggles around on his back, you get a flash of memory that lets you smile and remember.

In another way, it’s sad and harmful to the dog in front of you. We tend to think about the stuff that was good, that we miss, that was comfortable. Stuff our now dogs can’t live up to.

Rose-colored glasses

We have a dog training student who dearly misses her last dog. Her almost-constant lament is that her 11-month old dog isn’t like her last dog, Mortimer. “I just want him to be a good dog, like Mortimer!” she says. 

There are good reasons Oscar can’t live up to the standard she’s set. For one, he’s an adolescent, intact terrier boy. As anyone who knows, or has been, an adolescent boy knows, it’s a particularly volatile time of life. Another reason; Mortimer was an old, mellow dog when he died. He’d lived with her for a decade and a half, knew her, knew the rules of the house. Their relationship was long-standing, suited both of them, and was comfortable. 

And it’s been 17 years since she’s trained a puppy. Everyone tends to forget the hard work, constant attention, and continual frustration that includes. She remembers the end product, not the difficulty of producing that perfect dog.

Get over it

It sounds kind of harsh, but we’re constantly telling her “Mortimer’s gone. This is Oscar.” Oscar doesn’t deserve to be shrouded by ghosts of dogs past. Actually, he’s a pretty neat little guy. Handsome, smart, willing to learn, and he’s got a great “work ethic” – up for any training game his owner will play.

The biggest challenge for his mom, Christine, is to focus on the good stuff about Oscar, instead of the jumping on guests, biting the leash, running away when called. We’re working on all those pleas for attention.

Christine’s assignment this week is easy. Every day, while she’s drinking her morning coffee, look at Oscar and write down five things she likes about him. And only three can be the same good stuff as the day before. 

Focusing on the dog in front of you is sometimes hard. There are days when we miss the last dog, or the dog from 20 years ago. The pangs of loss are almost tangible. They’re indicators of the great love we’ve shared. Luckily, there’s no limit on love. 

Look to the future

The dog in front of us will never be the same as the last dog we had. Dog people know that every dog is a unique personality. If this dog is the same breed, there will be some similarities defined by genetics. But there will also be traits and quirks unique to this dog. Seeing the dog you have, embracing those unique characteristics, is part of the joy in the relationship. 

Christine and Oscar are getting there. There will come a day when Mortimer’s ghost won’t be superimposed on Oscar. Instead, he’ll be off to the side, watching with that doggy grin. Matched by one from Oscar, and a smile from Christine.

Dogs’ lives are too short

The longer you live, the more dogs you love, the more mourning you’ll have to do. As author Agnes Sligh Turnbull said: “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” 

Picture of a short-haired brown dog's face for the post Dogs lives are too short

A friend of a friend got some awful news this week – her dog has an untreatable condition that will soon take the dog’s life. “Coco” is small and only nine years old. The woman expected to have many more years with her best friend. And now has to reshape her vision of the future.

Dog bucket lists

In the last couple of years we’ve seen stories about dogs completing “bucket lists.” And if it helps the people cope with the impending loss of their dogs, that’s what they should do. But we’ve never been big fans of lists of “things to do before death.” 

If there’s a goal you want to reach, accomplish, attempt – make plans and go do it. For yourself and your dog. 

If you’re facing a similar situation, instead of projecting new stuff on your dog, do more of the stuff your dog loves. Not all dogs will enjoy, or even understand, a sudden change in routine. As we’ve said many times, most dogs are big fans of schedules.

Preparing for the day

Some people think it’s better to have time to prepare for a dog’s death. We’re not so sure. Over the years we’ve lost dogs in all different ways – none of them is “better.” Sudden is shocking. Slow is a constant ache. And, no matter how you try, you’re never prepared for the quiet emptiness when you come home.

Coco has been diagnosed with the same silent killer that took our dog Teddy a couple of years ago. That’s probably why the news is hitting us hard. We’ll never “get over” it, but we have learned to live with it.  

And, fortunately, the community of people who understand and sympathize is easier to reach and larger than it was before the internet. Back in the day, there weren’t social groups whose common interest was dogs. And non-dog people just don’t understand the impact. 

Sorry for them

Actually, we feel sorriest for people who have never known the love, and loss, of a dog. They don’t understand the selfless, unconditional love that dogs bring to life. As badly as it eventually hurts, loving a dog is never a mistake.  Their loss never overshadows the smiles they brought. We can’t let it. 

It’s advice we’ve given many times over the years. People, mourning their dog’s death, will say “I’m never getting another dog. It hurts too much.” 

Yes, it does. But to honor  your dog’s life, you can’t let their death be more important. Dogs’ lives are too short. The joy they bring is disproportionately large. Hug your dogs.