Kennel De-construction

It was a chilly but sunny Saturday morning with no rain or high winds predicted for the day.  It seemed like a good day to work on the first step in Phase One of our Kennel Upgrade project.

Oak Beams are HEAVY

Phase One, Step One is to move a lumber pile out of the driveway to the concrete truck can get close enough to the kennel location to discharge it’s load into the forms.  I have been working on that the past couple of days.  This photo was just the start, about half the pile is moved now.  I’ll finish that up in the coming week.

Today I wanted to get the roofs stripped off of Kennels #1 and #2.

All three kennels are in the way of where the concrete slab will go (See: Big Doins article) so they have to be moved.  Now that Selma and Lucy have gone to New Jersey, #1 and #2 are not in use.  The tricky bit here is that the kennels form part of the perimeter fence that keeps the dogs in the yard.  Were I to simply take them apart, the dogs would have to be walked on leashes any time they came outside, and running and frolicking would be right out of the question.  Since this could take a little while to accomplish, I need an alternative plan.

Obviously I went a bit farther than I planned to go today, but it was going well and I was feeling good and decided to just keep at it until I got this step done.  There is lots more work to do: digging out the landscape timbers that formed the foundation under the kennel panels, scrubbing and storing the dog houses and beds, and of course I still have to move Lennon’s kennel.

PHOTO One corner of this kennel is inside the area that the slab will cover.  But even if it were a couple of feet further back and clear of the slab, when Bob smooths the concrete he will probably use a long handled float.  That long handle will need some room to work with, and this kennel being in the way will be a hassle.

But because of the way this one is built, it will not be a simple matter to dismantle it, move the parts, and put back together.  It would be better to move the kennel intact.  I’ll detach it from it’s foundation of 4×4 timbers, but the chain link panels will remain hooked together — unless it is simply beyond my strength to move it as an assembly.

I left “containment” around the work area because I will be opening the temporary fence to get kennel #3 where it needs to go, and because there are gaps under the temp fence that might encourage dogs to try digging out.  I;ll block those with the timbers I remove from kennels 1 & 2 foundations.  Removing the three remaining panels from the work area will be a simple matter and can be done the day before Bob arrives to set up forms.  Until then, they are insurance.

Foster Notes for March 17, 2019

The transport run that had been rescheduled to March 22nd was re-rescheduled back to Friday March 15th (last Friday), and Selma and Lucy were on board heading to Eleventh Hour Rescue.  Fare thee well, little Selma Lou!  Happy tails, Lucy!

It was eerily quiet here that evening.


Lenny is my sole foster dog at the moment and He got to spend the night in the People house last night.  He did really well.  I brought him inside a little before 9:00 and he slept through the night.  This morning I got up at 4:30 to make coffee and start my day.  Lennon’s crate is in the den (where I spend my early mornings) and he is happily chomping on a Bacon Benebone.

Marie and I have both noticed that Lennon does not look to be as lame as he was:

In fact he doesn’t appear lame at all!

I have been giving him a Glucosamine Chondroitan/MSM/Turmeric supplement each day.  That was supposed to reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and promote healing.  Maybe that has worked.  He is due to see his surgeon April 1st.  Perhaps that will become a fool’s errand and the doctor will pronounce him well.  At least well enough that putting him through hip surgery is unwarranted.



Big Doins On Piney Mountain

We at Piney Mountain Foster Care are launching into a new project.  That project begins with the departure of Lucy and Selma this Friday.

Normally when a foster dog or two (or three) leave us, I have the weekend to power wash and sanitize the dog houses and kennels that are now empty.  But this time I will be dismantling these kennels instead.  But not because I’m quitting, not even cutting back.  Instead we are upgrading these kennels.

Kennel #1 was the abode of Cochise, our very first foster dog, back in 2012.  At first, that kennel was erected on the ground in an area that had been a driveway.  The ground was hard-packed mudcrete – a mixture of dried mud and gravel.  This was fine in dry weather, but got sloppy when he pranced around in there when it rained.  To help keep him clean, we laid down a thick layer of straw.  That failed!  Upon the advice of other kennel owners I elevated the kennel on landscape timbers and filled them with a 3″ layer of pea gravel.

Pea gravel worked better, but eventually the gravel got driven down into the mud and mud squooshed up into the gravel and we were back to mudcrete.  So I dug all that out, laid down a layer of Rok-Cloth — a heavy fibrous mat that keeps the pebbles above the mud.  That worked well until the dogs started digging.  Once the mat was torn up, the mud and gravel mixed and were are right back where I started.  I need a more stable, dig-proof surface.

Why Concrete?

I need a way of getting the dogs above the water that flows through the area in a heavy rain.  I need a surface that is stable (hard) enough to prevent digging.  I need a surface that can be easily cleaned every day.  Concrete seems the natural solution.

Kennel owners cautioned us against concrete as a floor because it is hard on the dog’s joints as they lay on it, causing thick pads to form at the elbows especially.  And I can see how that would be true if we didn’t provide the dogs with beds, blankets and a dog house.  Laying on these will take the wear and tear off their limbs.

Phase 1

The first step of this upgrade will be to pour a 13 foot by 24 foot concrete slab next to our garage.  Robert Gann has given us a good price on this.  But before he can do that I have to get the three kennels we now have out of the way.  Two are sitting right where the slab has to go.  I’ll dismantle them completely.  The third is in the way, but will be needed by Lennon, who will be staying with us for a while: two to three months probably.  I’ll move that down into the yard.

Since the kennels form part of our perimeter fence, and because the work area has to be clear to allow a concrete truck to wiggle in there, I will use the panels of the dismantled kennels to build a temporary fence across the yard from the back fence to the mobile home that serves as doggie bunkhouse and my workshop.

Once the slab is poured and cured, I will erect three kennels, each 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep, atop it.  That will close in the fencing again and the kennel complex will be in a neat, compact unit sitting next to our garage – which is currently a lumber shed.

You will note there are details INSIDE the cinder-block garage … Those are part of Phase 3

The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $1,500.00

Phase 2

The second phase will be to build a solid roof over the new kennels.  A roof with enough overhang to keep rain well away from the kennels in calm weather.  This roof will be a lean-to attached to the current garage roof and supported by posts and a beam outside of the kennels and a sidewalk.  Sort of like this:

You can see that right now, the garage roof and the kennel roof actually funnel rain into a slot between the two.  This is not a problem in a light rain: the slope and the deep gravel allow rain to flow through.  But in a heavy rain (like we’ve been getting) the dogs are standing in water unless they are on their bed or in their dog house.  This new roof will channel all the runoff out beyond the kennels, and a gutter and down spout could pipe it into the drainage system and eliminate splatter in all but the heaviest rain.

I have get to get a price on the steel roofing, so no estimate is available yet.

Phase 3

The final phase will be to empty the lumber from the shed/garage and clean it out so I can construct 4 foot by 8 foot kennel spaces inside the garage (see Phase 1 drawing above).  The walls between kennels will by 4 inch cinder block to prevent “arguments” between dogs while inside.  A chain link front panel with a door will be built for each.

Holes will be cut through the block walls between inside and outside kennels and rubber-flap doors installed to  help block the wind.  This will allow the dogs to move from inside to outside at will.  By installing a sliding wooden door too, I can block a dog inside or outside when I need to.  This set-up worked very well at the shelter where I used to work.

I’ll insulate the garage roof and install an infrared heater and small ceiling fan above each kennel to provide heat and cooling as needed.  The building already has a big squirrel fan blower mounted in the loft to pull out heat in the summer.  A window air conditioner could be mounted if needed.

The big roll-up door will come out and the kennel end of the opening will be blocked in.  The rest will be framed and covered with siding.

Shelving inside will allow me to move dog stuff out of our home and into the kennel.  That will be convenient in many ways.

Phase 4

Phase four involves putting a door in the end of the mobile home that now serves as workshop.and doggie bunkhouse.

Yeah, it’s crude, but you get the idea.

This will allow direct access from the play yard/kennel area instead of having to leash the dogs and walk them around to the side porch for entry and exit.  That end of the trailer is what used to be the master bed and bath and is equipped with plumbing and drains to make an indoor bathing station.  What was the bedroom will become a simulated living space where I can work with dogs on house-breaking, and can keep additional crates for short-term emergency fostering or for dogs who have just had surgery or Immiticide injections and need to be kept calm.

Do you want to help?

And that’s the plan.  I’ll be doing my best to keep the costs as low as possible by doing as much of the work myself as possible (or enlisting volunteers).

We want to avoid going into debt with a second mortgage to pay for this so we’re taking it on as we accumulate the cash to pay for it.  If you’d like to help us speed that along, your donation would be greatly appreciated.  You may make a donation on-line with the PayPal button below (PayPal will take about 9%) or you may mail a check to:

Doug Bittinger
1198 Piney Mountain Road
Newport, TN 37821

Marie has suggested that we have a plaque with the names of donors made up to go in the completed kennel building.  I think that’s appropriate.  If you want to donate but DON”T want your name on the plaque, say so in the notes area or enclose a note with your check and we will respect your privacy.

And thank you!

Foster Notes for March 9, 2019

Lucy is resting comfortably after yesterday’s spay surgery. She is not licking yet, so I haven’t coned her, but I watch closely. We don’t need an infection!

I did take a blanket out for her this morning (she spent the night indoors), She curled up on it, gave me the cutest little purse-lipped face, and thumped her tail in appreciation.

Her heartworm test yesterday was negative: always good news!


Cookie assistant SelmaSelma had a break-through a couple of days ago when the light came on, so to speak, and she realized that if she calms down she gets more free-time in the house.  She’s doing much better.

While out in the yard, Selma decided to play with Josephine, came racing across the yard, ran right over lil Josie and scared the witts out of her.  Selma wasn’t being mean, it’s just really easy to frighten Josie.  They’ve been on the outs since then, and since Callie is protective of Josie, she’s being more wary of Selma too.  Hopefully this will all blow over if I’m careful about not letting Selma and Josie outside together.

Other than that, Selma is doing fine.  I received word yesterday that she has been accepted by 11th Hour and is scheduled to ride out on March 22.


Lennon’s surgery is scheduled for April 1st.  It will be done by Dr. David Crouch DVM in Arden N.C.  He will spend the night and I’ll go again to pick him up the following day.  Recovery should take about 2 months.

Dr Crouch’s office person said that they will do another x-ray, and I think that’s good because the way Lennon races around the yard, leaping, and making tight turns makes me wonder if he hasn’t healed up enough that the surgery may not be necessary after all.  I have been giving him a daily dose of Glucosamine Chondroitan / MSM / Turmeric — which is supposed to ease joint inflammation (and thus pain) and restore damaged cartilage.  Maybe we don’t need to put him through this.  But in case we do, I working out how to build a hydrotherapy tank for him.

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Announcing Big Dog Treats Bulk Box

Sales of the peanut butter dog treats have been gratifying, and we’ve made 390 sales to date and contributed $1,179.00 in proceeds toward Steele Away Home’s veterinary bills.  When compared to what the total vet bills have been for the past 14 months, $1,179.00 is not much, I’m sure, but that is over a thousand dollars that did not have to be raised some other way.  And, these treats are catching on.  Just today, a lady named Macey told me that her dog Chloe will not eat any other treats, now that she’s hooked on these peanut butter cookies.  Many others have told me that their dogs love them too.

The original dog treat is about 7/8 inch in diameter and a quarter inch thick.  They come packed 40 in a food-safe, resealable bag.

Comments from people who own large dogs and wanted a bigger treat led me to develop the Big Dog version.  This larger, bone shaped treat uses five times the amount of dough as a round treat and comes packed 8 in a bag.  Both versions cost $3.00 with all of that money going to the veterinarian bills for Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue.

Recently, large dog owners have been asking about getting a bulk package and discount.  So I spent some time today baking up a double batch of cookies: all as Big Dog Version, and experimenting with packaging.  I could just use a gallon freezer bag, but that offers little protection against breakage.  Then I came across the perfect container:

This nifty container is a food-safe plastic tub that just holds 40 Big Dog treats, it’s sturdy enough to protect them, and is resealable to keep them fresh.  It’s PERFECT!

The only trouble is the only way I know of to get them is to buy these boxes filled with chocolate chip cookies at Food City.  I did search for a supplier of new, empty boxes but anything that came close was either too expensive or needed to be purchased in lots of 1,000 units or more.  They are good cookies, so I guess I’ll just have to make the sacrifice and eat a bunch of them to keep these boxes coming in.

40 Big Dog treats is the equivalent of 5 bags (which would normally cost $15.00) so I’m pricing the Bulk Box at $12.00.  For the moment these are a special order item because they take up a lot of counter space and I don’t want to encroach on Cedarwood’s front desk real estate that much.  Let me know when you need one and please give me a couple of days lead time because, believe it or not, I do have other things going on around here besides baking cookies and I like to send them out fresh baked.

So, what do you think?  Interested?  Please leave a comment below. Thanks!


Delivering / Shipping Dog Treats

Some folks have asked if these treats are available for mail-order. We are now willing to try this with the bulk packs or groups of 6 pouches.

The shipping cost is a flat fee of $8.25 for USPS 3-day Priority. Use only if you want them shipped to you right away.

If you with a rescue that is receiving a dog from us choose the Rescue delivery and the cookies will come with the dog at no added charge.

For local delivery, please contact me directly to place your order and pay with cash upon delivery.


All proceeds raised by The Julian Fund go to pay the veterinarian bills of
Steele Away Home – Canine Foster and Rescue
which operates out of Newport Tennessee. This is an all-volunteer organization: no donations to the rescue are spent on staff salaries. Check out our Facebook page.Steele Away Home is a GuideStar accredited 501(c)(3) organization, therefore your donation is tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

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This is a test

This is a test post.

It appears that my e-mail sending utility stopped working after the last Word Press upgrade, as I have not seen notices go out for the last article I posted.  Looking into it, I don’t see that the last four posts were announced.

That’s not good!

So if you do NOT get this article, please let me know! 🙂 (Yes, that’s a joke)

The e-mail robot publisher put out an update today to fix what they broke in the last update and it is working again, so I am re-publishing the posts that were missed.  Thanks for your patience.


Is Peanut Butter Treat Day a Trap?

peanut butter treatsI made 274 of my Peanut Butter dog treats today.  That sounds like a lot, but we go through that many in a week or less with the pack I have here.

I use them as rewards (and bribes) for good behavior as well as “just because you’re a good dog” treats.  With 8 dogs normally in residence, that’s 34 treats per dog per week or not quite 5 treats per dog per day.  Since they get a treat for going into their crate or kennel – each time, you can see how we run through them quickly.

Cookie assistant SelmaToday Selma was my cookie baking assistant.  Selma is in training as a house dog.  She needs to learn to calm herself and act civilized while in the house.  She did well today.

When I empty a peanut butter jar, I make it a point to give it to one of the dogs to lick out.  That’s an extra special treat!  Sometimes one has just had surgery, or has just arrived and is feeling nervous.  Sometimes one has had a good break through and deserves a reward.  Today it occurred to me that little Josephine has NEVER had a peanut butter jar of her own to lick out.  It seems she is due!  But that didn’t go quite as I envisioned:

When Josie passed on the offer, Callie said she’d show Josie how it’s done.  But Josie wanted no part of this potential crime and quickly left the room.

She loves the peanut butter cookies, she’s just not so sure about that jar.

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Lennon’s First Play-date with the Girls

Is that a UPS truck coming?!

Lennon is not a particularly massive dog, nor is he mean, but with his high energy level and gangly legs, he can be a formidable playmate as he sprints around and gets bouncy when in close.  Blondie Bear can handle him and they have played together often.

Being a Mentor dog, Blondie tries to curb his enthusiasm or channel his energy into proper play like running.  He likes to run, but also like to wrestle.

Today was the first time I allowed Lennon to play with dogs other than Blondie.

Josephine has encountered him (accidentally) and found him terrifying.  So I left her inside.

I’ve always figured that Lucy and Lennon would make good playmates because she is equal in size and more massive.  She should be able to handle him.

Callie is playful and likes to wrestle.  Though she’s a little smaller, she is quite strong.  That should be an even match.

So let’s line them up and see how they do … one at a time to start, with Blondie as referee.

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Selma Is an Adventure Dog

It’s a chilly 22° this morning. Lucy and Lennon came out of the bunkhouse to eat breakfast and relieve themselves, then were ready to go back inside where it’s warm.

Even in 22° she prefers the outdoors – for a while.

Selma sleeps in the People house with us. She went out early with the other house dogs, came in to eat breakfast and wanted to go back out. Despite the cold, she says, “I’m an adventure dog. I like it outside.”

She stayed out until after Marie went to work, then came in to warm up and nap.

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Foster Notes for March 1st, 2019

Callie tries to negotiate a deal with Rebel (video)

Here it is the last day Rebel will be spending with us and I finally got him to speak to me (instead of screaming). Rebel, Blondie, Callie, and I were all in the den after breakfast. I had the den door closed to keep Buddy Beagle from harassing Rebel – which he has been doing. Rebel was chewing a toy and being really good, the girls were snoozing. Rebel got up, walked over to my chair, looked up at me and said, “Rar rar woo roo.” in his deep Husky voice, which sounded for all the world like “I want water” to me, but maybe I was hearing what I wanted to hear. I asked him if he needed a drink, he ran to the door. That means “yes”.  I secured Buddy, let Rebel out, he got a drink and went back to the den.

The point is that he communicated in a way other than his high pitched Husky scream (which gets really annoying). That made me happy because I’ve been working with him on this. Hopefully his next “home” will be able to continue this work. Speaking at the peoples is SO much more pleasant.


Selma is not an early riser.

Selma has been spending more time indoors and loose.  Not a lot more, but more.  After Rebel moves on Selma will get more free-range, indoor time.

She is calming down a little.  She needs the time to practice being calm as she interacts with people.

Selma has been coming inside at bed time every night and sleeping in a crate.  She now crates on demand (with bribery).  She stays calm in the crate unless she has an urgent need to go out to potty or to get a drink.  She is not one to be up and wanting out at the crack of dawn.

All the House Dogs seem to accept her being in the house, though Callie and Buddy bark when she comes up on the porch until they see that it’s her.  Once she comes in, they sniff at her and walk off, declaring the emergency over.


I’d better get lots of treats for this.

Lennon went to Cedarwood Animal Hospital yesterday for a follow-up exam which included two skin scrapings. He was declared free of mange and ready to proceed with his femoral reconstruction surgery. He says, “There better be lots of treats in this for me.”

I need to call Dr. David Crouch and get things started.  Steele Away Home says funds are now available to pay the quoted fee.


Lucy has been doing really well.  She and Selma get rowdy with one another through their mutual wall, but I think they’re just play-fighting.  I want to try letting Lucy out for a face-to-face meet-up with Lennon.  I think they would be good playmates.  But I need a helper to do this safely.

She plays really well with Blondie Bear, never getting aggressive or insistent about playing.  She has a sweet, gentle nature, with a frosting of high energy.  She’s a hound, and needs space to run off that energy, then she’s a sweetie.

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