• Night-time Routine at the DD Ranch

October 10, 2020

In this instalment of ‘Behind the Scenes at DD’, I’m going to share with you our night-time routine for all of our guest dogs.
As far as our kennel license and insurance certificate state, we are a boarding facility for dogs.
However we don’t see it that way.
We see ourselves as an alternate family home for your dog; somewhere he can come where everyone knows him, loves him, fulfil his needs but most importantly ‘sees him’.
Think ‘Cheers’ Bar in Boston, where ‘everybody knows your name’- but for four legged folk!
The days at DD are big on physical and mental activity, with hunting, playing, chasing, swimming, splashing in the mud spa, climbing trees (yes, we have guests who think they’re bloody lumberjacks!😂) and trying to persuade, or trick, Aunty Kris, Me, Uncle Doug, Aunty Jeannie, Aunty Bree or Aunty Shalaina into giving them scraps while all that delicious meat is cooking.
That’s hard work, people....you don’t even KNOW how hard it is to look cute, create diversions and beg at the same time.
So, purposefully, night times are a time of winding down, getting the heart rate nice and slow and even, and taking the time to connect with each and every dog in a way that is meaningful and pleasing to them.
After dinner, everyone needs to settle for an hour and a half to let their meal digest; one of the known cases of bloat is too much activity on a full stomach and so we don’t allow anyone to do anything other than rest after meals.
Then, we let the dogs out into the top yards only, and the first thing we do, after everyone’s ‘cleared a log jam from the Hershey Highway’ 🤣...... is pick up a brush.
We brush every dog at the end of every day.
This is not just to get rid of tangles and burrs, this is about connection..... a time when we get to put our hands on the dog, look into their eyes as the brushing action gently increases blood flow, and whisper sweet nothings in their ears.
Some dogs don’t really like being brushed, and that’s fine.
Cooper Bosso, one of my favorite all time clients, is fine now with being brushed, but for the first five years that he was part of our DD family he’d be like ‘Ain’t happenin’ girlie’.
So, instead, we would massage his back and his chest, long slow rhythmic movements where he’d lean into our knees and say ‘Yeah, right there, that’s it, oooh you missed a spot, do it again’. He loves his ears being massaged and so, while we massage everyone’s ears every day, Cooper trades some of his brush time for extra ear time.
Fine by us.
Someone, a very wise woman, once told me that really, when it comes down to it, all any of us REALLY cares about is that ‘someone gives a sh*t about us.’
Never truer words spoken when it comes to your dog.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing, but every dog wants and needs to be singled out for special attention, a time when the world stands still for you and her, where she’s the only thing that matters and she is seen and heard.
Even the dogs who are playing softly in the yard with their friends get called away from play for a short time so that we can connect with them in this fashion.
It’s the most important thing that we do.
When the dogs have all been attended to, and everyone is ready for bed, we put them all up, normally at around 10pm. Then, we freshen up all of the water bowls in every room, or put clean water bowls in for the bearded dogs who insist on bringing all of Dingly Dell into the house on their whiskers and dump it in the water bowl as they drink. If you’ve ever seen the adorable ‘F*cknutz’ Charlie, I don’t mind telling you her water bowl looks like chocolate soup every two hours!
Then we go round and plump up the beds, straighten out the throws and cushions and make sure that everyone has the right kind of sleeping surface for them.
Kira Sue the Husky hates being on a dog bed and always prefers a harder surface, so we provide cushioned mats for her as we don't want her joints to be compromised.
Tony the German Shepherd, who has won over everyone’s heart with his incredible victory overcoming neurological issues that left him with ‘spaghetti legs’, well, Tony insists on climbing on a leather couch...because now he can and he likes to show off.
So we make sure every night that he has a rug and a soft dog bed directly next to the couch just in case he falls.
Next, it’s treat time.
No dog goes to bed without a little carb in their tummy. It helps them to sleep and gives them a little something to settle them down. It may be a cookie, or a spoon of canned wet food if they’re older with poor teeth, or it may be a little bowl of chicken pieces with a spoon of brown rice pasta and some honey. Whatever it is that they need, everyone gets a treat.
Then come the goodnight kisses and tuck-ins.
Nine different lounges or suites, sometimes as many as 35 dogs, but every single one of them gets a kiss, and gets told ‘You are perfect. You are a good girl, you did good today. I love you SO much’.
Why? Because everyone needs to hear that every day.......If you don’t believe that dogs need and appreciate this, firstly, you shouldn’t be reading our Facebook page because you’re obviously a moron, but secondly, one half-second glance at our guests during this encounter will show you how important it is to them.
They preen, they sparkle and then give that deep contented sigh that says ‘Oh Thank you, I love you too’ then they drift off to sleep.
The soft music plays all night to drown out any possible noise like thunder or rain.
Essential oils might be infused into the air if it’s been a hectic day or there's storm activity.
One more last check of all of the dogs.....’Need a pee, my love? Okay then, let's get you out one last time.’
Or ‘Feeling a little homesick on your first night? How about I come lie with you and give you a nice massage as you drift off to sleep?’
The lights are dimmed but never completely off, so that we can keep an eye on them with our camera system.
Aunty Kris retires upstairs, where she sleeps right above all of the babies, and has the camera feed right next to her at all times.
She has a cup of tea as she winds down from the day, and then, at around midnight, when she feels everyone is asleep and settled, she will do one last check.
If we have a sick or hospice care guest, which we do occasionally so that mum and dad can get a break from the care routine, or maybe someone who suffers from a seizure disorder, she will pop down during the night like a ninja to cast an eye over everyone.
It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and all you can hear is the sound of gentle snoring as they dream about sausages, bacon, roasted meat, chasing squirrels, catching rabbits and dive bombing into the pond.
And that’s exactly how it should be……..

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