Wasilla, Alaska, USA


I call them "the potato chip dogs" because I couldn't have just one. I never started out to have 4 large breed dogs, it just happened, and I have never regretted it. Living with 4 huge dogs is no big deal, unless those 300 pounds of dog spend most of the time indoors. As it turns out the different breeds and personalities that I have acquired seem to compliment each other and make it a great household.

Meet Elway, the first acquired. He was found at about 4 months of age at the local animal shelter. He is appropriately named after the Denver Broncos quarterback, John Elway. He is a mix of golden retriever and Alaska sled dog, so when he grabs something and runs with it, he is almost uncatchable. He loves the outdoors and loves to run. Elway is a tremendously convincing guard dog.

Then came Echo, a very sweet Bernese Mountain Dog out of Oregon. She was brought on board because I wanted a draft dog to help me haul firewood and leaves and help me out around the house. I also wanted a loyal constant loving companion as I heard they were. She is slow but steady, and loves her work. I really believe dogs love to do what they are bred for and should be allowed to perform these functions.

Catrina, a Rottweiler, was a rescue from euthanasia from the veterinary clinic that I work for. She had a bad congenital defect in her eyes and her vision is very poor. She has a herding background from her lines, and loves skijoring alongside of Elway. (Skijoring is the exciting sport of cross country skiing with your dogs bungee-corded to your waist for the purpose of pulling you faster than you could normally ski. Depending on your dogs, it can be anything from exhilarating to suicidal. Picture yourself on skis, tied to your dogs, and meeting a moose and its baby on the trail). Catrina is also a "volunteer" blood donor for an emergency clinic, a job that requires a very gentle personality. Credit is given to her for saving many dogs' lives.

"Echo" and Laura skijoring.

Then came Demi, not named after sweet actress Demi Moore, but for Demi-lition. She looks like a Bernese Mountain Dog, but acts more like a tough Rottweiler. She took Catrina as her role model. She is the instigator of most of the rough-housing that goes on in our house. She is in charge of keeping the house clean, because if I leave something on the floor, she will demolish it.

It is a blast to have all these dogs. I take 2 of them to work with me every day. Since I commute 1 hour to and from work each day I like to have the security of dogs in the car. At the same time I have the security of dogs at home guarding the house.

They all take turns going to obedience school, it is important to have smart dogs. Having 4 untrained large dogs would be too much for anyone to handle. They have all passed their classes with flying colors, but I personally think that Echo is the smartest. When they are all laying down chewing rawhide bones, she will jump up and bark at the door. When the other 3 run down the stairs, she will grab several bones and hoard them.

I have a built in obstacle course in my living and dining rooms to keep the dogs exercised. It consists of running around the kitchen table, across the living room to slam into the side of the couch sideways with their legs, run across the room to the loveseat, bounce off the cushion and over the top, and around the table again. Elway has taught ALL the dogs this and they are unstoppable when they get into this "banshee" mode. Needless to say having good furniture is not one of my priorities.

Their true exercise area is the yard. The dogs all have electric shock collars which are supposed to keep them in the yard. This works fine on everyone except Catrina. Catrina does not care or cannot feel the shocks, especially if the neighbor boys are playing basketball, her favorite sport (popping the basketball). So needless to say, the dogs are either in dog runs or supervised while outside.

I have made a list of items to consider if you are ever planning an animal kingdom like mine.



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