Upgrades for Kennel #3

Our third kennel was installed hastily on a sloping surface that was once a gravel driveway.  As I usually do, I built a foundation for it of pressure treated 4x4s.  I did not take my usual course of hauling in 1 1/2 tons of pea gravel to fill the foundation and provide a cleaner floor for the dog in that kennel.  The reason for that decision has to do with impending upgrades and a concrete slab, that when that time comes will require me to MOVE kennel 3 (and all that gravel).

Recent prolonged rains have made the floor of #3 a muddy mess and I need to address that somehow so I can keep the dog cleaner, as well as keeping the dog bed and deck and dog house cleaner.  Letting them out to run in the yard is bad enough, they don’t need a muddy kennel as well.

I decided to try the chipped pine that is used in horse stalls.  So Rebel and I made a run to Tractor Supply Co. in Newport and bought 4 bales (32 cubic feet) of the pine chips.  The bales are compressed, so when I opened them I used a rake to break up the bales and “fluff” the chips as I spread them out. If the rains continue, the chips will get wet, and stay wet, but hopefully will keep the dog out of the mud.  And since there are a dog house, a dog bed, and a deck to lie on and stay dry, having a wet floor should not be a big issue.  When the next upgrade takes place, I can haul the used wood chips out to my garden for composting.

This is an ideal time to do this because we just sent two foster dogs off on rescue and will be getting two new fosters next week.  So I spent the day scrubbing and sanitizing dog houses, dog beds, bowls, and decking.  I now have about 5″ of wood chips across the bottom of the kennel to help keep the new resident out of the mud.  That is providing that the new dog is not a digger who will just stir mud up from underneath.  This has been a problem with some dogs, even in the gravel floored kennels.

I put Roc-Kloth ™ down under the gravel to keep the rock from being driven down into the mud below when it rains.  That worked great until dogs started digging and tearing up the heavy fabric underliner.  Now the mud and rock are mixing again and the kennels are getting the dogs dirty.  It seems the only way to keep things clean is going to be a concrete slab.  So that’s next.  But until I can afford that, I’ll do the best I can with what we have to provide as healthy an environment as I can.

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Pipe Dreaming About Kennels

Piney Mountain Foster Care currently has three outdoor kennels that measure 10 feet wide by 10 feet deep by 6 feet high.  We also have indoor crates so each of these three dogs can be moved inside the “bunkhouse” during inclement weather.

In thinking about future improvements, my thoughts tend to run along two channels:

  1. Motivated by the constant plea of “Does anyone have room for this poor darling?” it would seem sensible to add more kennels and crates to increase my capacity,
  2. Or I could repair/upgrade the facilities I have and maintain the current capacity to focus on providing the specialized care that I am often called upon to give dogs with certain needs.

Bigger, Better, More

The garage that the two adjoined kennels are next to is 24 feet long, enough for three 8 foot wide kennels.  Leaving a narrow aisle (2 feet) and having two more 8 x 10’s across from them (leaving space for steps into the end of the trailer that is bunkhouse and workshop and a passage to the shop driveway)  and then one more 8×10 snugged up beside the trailer on the driveway side, sort of by itself, but not really.  This would be good for an aggressive dog that would tend to attack the fencing between kennels to get at his neighbor.

Because of the slope, the 24’ by 22’ concrete slab will have to be stepped: 3 kennels and the walkway on the lower level, the other two kennels on the step-up.  I also want a floor drain running down the middle of the walkway to channel rain and hose water toward the trailer where the drain tiles will take it out to the ditch that runs alongside the shop driveway.

Tunneling prevention

The kennels we have are mounted atop wooden timbers.  This serves as visual impediment for diggers.  I try not to leave gaps that will catch a dog’s eye and cause them to think, “heyyyyy, I wonder …”.  This also helps prevent rust in the lower rails and gives me low walls (3”) that I can fill with pea gravel.  There is rock cloth under the gravel, but if a dog decides to start digging, neither the loose gravel nor the rock cloth will stop them.  But the fact that the kennels are sitting on what was once our driveway and is made of compacted clay and gravel does slow them down.  I have not had one dig out of a kennel yet.  Some have dug pits, but no tunnels.

The idea of putting all kennels on concrete slabs is an upgrade to insure I retain that record.  I don’t care how determined a dog is, they can’t dig out through a 4 inch thick (or better) concrete slab.  Even a Beagle.  Beagles can be fiendishly clever, but they do have limits. It would also aid in cleaning and disinfecting kennels between dogs.

We went with pea gravel floors because it’s supposed to be easier on a dog’s joints than laying on concrete.  But we also provide a dog house (with insulated floor) and raised dog beds.  So they have options to the concrete for comfort.

And then there’s the Dream Kennel roof.  Right now the left side of the garage roof and the right side of the kennel roof channel rain water into the slot between both.  In a heavy rain, that kennel roof might as well not be there because those kennels get soaked.

My pipe dream is to build a sloped shed style roof from that hip in the garage roof that will reach out over both rows of kennels and the walkway between AND offer at least a foot of overhang on all three sides.  I’ve been thinking wood roof with shingles – and posts and support beam running along one side of the walkway so the rafters don’t have to be steel I beams or something.

Focus on Special Care

The problem with packing in as many dogs as I possibly can is that the reason some of them come here will be sacrificed.  I am known among our rescue group as a dog whisperer because of my past success in rehabilitating dogs with behavioral issues that made them seem nonredeemable.  At least two were saved from destruction because of their behaviors.  I also accept dogs that are to undergo heartworm treatment and other medical issues that make them more of a burden than most fosters are willing to take on.

Dealing with these issues takes a considerable investment of time and effort on top of the routine potty breaks and play time that all fosters get.  Since I am doing this alone I can only, realistically, handle a couple of high-care dogs at a time.

We currently have two dogs that we adopted, and two more long term fosters (here for life) that live in the house with us.  Three outside fosters makes seven dogs.  Adding 3 more would make 10 dogs to care for on a full time basis.  Not all of whom will get along with all of the others, and a few would need intensive care of one kind or another.  Am I ABLE to do that by myself?  I’m not sure I can.  If the special care is my focus, three kennels is enough.  Upgrade them to improve security and comfort (slab and good roof) and stick with three.

Balancing Act

Of course it doesn’t have to be a black and white case of maxing capacity or caring only for special needs dogs.  The two can be blended: maybe 4 kennels (the three along the garage and an isolation kennel) with one of those a special needs dog.

And there is the fact that it wouldn’t matter if I had 20 kennels, there would always be the call of “Can you take one more?”  In rescue, the dogs never stop coming, and never will until rampant breeding is ended and the population brought under control through spay/neuter regulations.

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