Two dogs and 70sqm
Quite often we're asked how do you survive with two dogs in an apartment?
We live in a loft conversion just a stones throw from Birmingham city centre, in the Jewellery Quarter, with two dogs.
First of all, we're a small building with a total of 30 loft units, each converted differently and uniquely but with one thing in common, very large walls between. The building is maintained by a management company, with two directors both of which live in the building. In order to get dogs in the first place, we had to gain written confirmation from the directors to say it was okay.
Then, first came Apollo and then Aura.
The loft is spacious, but, we have got to be on our A game when it comes to cleaning and maintaining it.
Getting back from a long bike ride, walk or lake swim often involves dropping everything and getting the dogs into the shower as quickly as possible. Or leaving in the mornings to get to Doggy day care is often rushed, I'll have a coffe in one hand, two leads in the other, laptop bag... It's just not a pretty sight, infact doing just that I've broken two toes in the last 8 months.
As a result, having everything that could possibly be needed in one space really seems to work. A few hooks and a basket with stuff as you enter really works.
A handy box of pet wipes or paper towels are always good to have at arms reach. Luckily Apollo was never a particularly mucky pup, Aura on the other hand gets filthy after even the cleanest driest of walks.
Then there's the handy basket of stuff...
Which is basically anything that could be needed like hand sanitising gel, a Kong brush, spare collar, poop bags, chew toys... and of course, dog friendly tennis balls. Apollo is very ball motivated and for him balls work better than treats.
Then in the open plan living area we have a motion activated camera which can live feed to an app. This way if I pop out or we're at a neighbouring restaurant we can check in on the dogs.
Like car cameras it has a looped recording ability. Living in a building rather than a detached remote house, it gives us a bit of a backup at building management meetings when animals are mentioned. It also helps us understand if there is anything which causes them alarm or distress. Sometimes police helicopters circling cause Apollo a bit of anxiety and puts him onto alert.
The great thing with the Doggy cam is that you can talk back through it via the app on your phone and it projects your voice into the room.
A part of me sometimes wonders whether this device and app causes me or the dogs more anxiety. However, in this instance, in a building shared with other residents, it is incredibly useful.
Now in terms of ascetic, I'm not okay with fully giving in to plastic volumes of dog boxes etc. Instead for treats, I decant them into mason jars and keep them at easy reach.
Having the treats very obviously placed has also worked well for training the dogs, you simply have to hunt that you'll walk over to the treat jars and they become fully engaged and attentive!
While the dogs receive expert gun dog training, it is purely for mental stimulation. They are not traditional working dogs, they are family dogs and I'll be honest, very indulged. They are allowed "up" on the sofa or bed only when invited, and when they do jump up, they cuddle onto their blankets which are washed regularly and are always at hand.
It can appear to be overkill, but we have two vacuum cleaners - one Dyson for an intense clean every few days, and one G-Tech cordless for daily "sweeps." Okay I know, it is overkill... however keeping the floors clean means that they can be easily freshened up with a quick wipe or wash down. This is especially useful after food time.
Their food and other miscellaneous stuff is all dumped in a large laundry basket which we keep in the living area. This makes quick tidies easy and efficient.
We don't bulk buy due to space restrictions but we regularly have extra Millie's Wolfheart mixes delivered. We spent around 6months feeding Apollo raw. He did great on the diet and really responded well to it. However, right now, we simply do not have space to freeze large amounts of raw food for two dogs and so changed him to Millie's when Aura came along. They love the food, it's pure protein and made locally in the uk.
The whole loft consists of wooden floors throughout. Around the sofas though is a large eBay find of a rug. It gives the two of them a space to box and play without risk of slipping.
Daily after play on the rug we run the G-Tech over it to remove any dog hair or dirt.
Aura is still learning to "leave" cleaning tools, so when she walks away from it instead of instigating an argument, she gets a treat.
We have an outdoor terrace, which is an awesome sociable space which we use often as an overflow from the rest of the loft.
While the dogs obviously need to "go" we have trained them so that everything can be quickly cleaned and washed down.
Both are trained to "ask" at the door.
Then after they've gone out, we have a watering can to hand which gets hot water a Eco detergent and is used to wash down the patio slabs afterwards.
That way, we can still enjoy the space without it being entirely taken over by the dogs.
Just like the sofa and the rest of the loft for that matter!