Written by Donna
I don't like the sound of the term “kennels” because it sounds so impersonal. Also, I think of the negative, and sometimes even deplorable conditions that I've seen and heard about where dogs have been raised in “kennels”.
When I first decided to raise Miniature American Eskimos, I began looking for ideas for the housing for my “babies” (as I call all of my beloved and cherished little dogs). I was looking through a magazine published by one of the most popular and respectable Kennel Clubs, and was shocked to see advertised a 'very nice' kennel that housed as many as 15 dogs. It was “safe, clean and easy to keep heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.” That sounds good, right? What disturbed me was the fact that it was a small, well insulated, storage-type unit about 10' X 12' with concrete floors (that's the good part). But one wall was lined with about 5 wire cages stacked 3 high (15 in all). Each crate had a removable plastic tray like a bird cage so that it could be removed through a slot and easily cleaned as necessary. I guess that could be considered good living conditions....maybe for birds; but, in my opinion, not at all acceptable for dogs who love to run and play and to have interaction with their people. To me, this looked like something a 'puppy mill' would have.
I've seen other breeders' facilities who had their mother dogs in little 'yards' that measured about 5' X 5' with a little dog house for her and her puppies to sleep in and to be out of the weather (which was better). But that didn't leave much room for 'play area' or separate 'potty area.' I decided “I don't just want to “raise dogs”; I want to provide families with happy, healthy babies that are mentally and emotionally going to become a companion and a member of the family. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right or I didn't want to do it all.”
So, I designed my “kennel” building 40 feet long and divided it into 3 “suites”, one for each mother dog, and a small storage room on the end. The “suites” are like little apartments with 2 sleeping houses inside of each; one where Mom can have her babies, and when she needs a break from 'the kids', she can go next door for her 'quiet time'. There are heat lamps in the houses for winter, and ceiling fans for summer. The rooms have concrete floors that can easily be scrubbed and sanitized regularly. Each “suite” has double doors to the outside (one above the other) so that babies can be confined inside the building until they are old enough to venture out into their big private yard, and Mom can jump over the lower door and have access to the outside yard and the “potty area”. The “potty area” is a designated area with a containing border and unscented clay kitty litter. Mom uses that area, and as babies get older and can go outside, they learn from Mom's example to go there also.
So, we have “Sweet One,” “Sweet Two,” “Sweet Three” (for our “Sweeties”) We also have a large fenced wooded area where the adult dogs get to run and play. They love to play on the giant fake rock or just use it to bask in the sun. Right now I'm in the process of building a 'wolf cave' for them to retreat to when they feel insecure as during thunderstorms.
I've been working on my kennels for about 4 ½ years and it's slowly coming together, but I suppose I'll always be making changes and improvements as I enjoy working outside and the dogs love following me around and watching me, so curious as to what I'm doing and why. I just love their inquisitive nature... and when I sit down to rest, they all run to me to get hugs and cuddles. They listen to me talk to myself.... and they think I'm talking to them.... In their opinion, everything I say makes perfect sense :)
I love working with my dogs....It's a kind of therapy. They're actually good little listeners/therapists. I hope all of my puppies bring as much joy to their new families as they have for me.
There is so much work to be done to make each yard fun and comfortable AND clean for our dogs. One way we are trying to make it better is by sculpting mud and concrete to make very well insulated "caves" for them. This one is a du-plex. When it's done it will look like a big rock with 2 doors on the front. With the layers of dirt and concrete over the wooden house with a layer of moisture barrier surroung it, it should stay a pretty consistent temperature inside. It shouldn't get too hot in there or too cold. My mom is such a hard worker.
Working On The Rock "House" #1 (9/2020)