Who Let the Dogs Out? Confessions of a dog hoarder…oops, animal lover.


We have a pretty archetypal household; married with two children (albeit they are twins), a comfortable ranch home in a nice neighborhood with two cars in the garage and a big backyard. It’s a seemingly bucolic sight.

Until you ring the doorbell.

Panic ensues. Dogs bark. Cries of “Someone’s at the door!” and “GRAB THE DOG!” can be heard from across the street. Often it’s just too late; whoever is brave enough to enter the front door is greeted by the mass hysteria only four dogs can provide. Jumping, licking, ankle biting, and peeing canines. Sometimes all at once.

Truth-be-told, like many Coloradans, we have a weakness for rescue dogs. While others may collect autographs, we are proudly collecting dogs and dust. It is both our passion and our demise.

We rarely entertain anymore. Our black lab will knock you down upon your arrival, topple your drink with her otter-like tail, or lick you to death. Seriously. I’ve found a lot of my friends really don’t care for a dog to lick them non-stop for over an hour. Our corgi gets so excited he chases our cats (yes, full disclosure, we also have three cats), which in turns leads to leaping felines across multiple candlelit surfaces, sometimes even catching their tails on fire. That same lab considers our kitchen counter as her personal all-you-can-eat-buffet. Leave anything near the edge and she swoops in and takes her “entrée” to our bed, where apparently she dines in absolute comfort.

Can you say laminate flooring?

One rescue puppy chewed a hole in our family room carpet, not a big deal when considering it was already ruined from infinite potty stains left by untamed predecessors. You know it’s bad when your carpet cleaner recommends their “Last Ditch” enzyme treatment protocol and it doesn’t work. We have abandoned all living spaces to live out our days barricaded in our kitchen with our dogs. I really miss the couch and big screen TV.  

We wear it well.

Needless to say, we have an abundance of dog hair. It cannot be contained. None of us wears black, and if we do, we cannot sit down once dressed for fear of collecting a sample of our newest dog du jour. This is a complicated process, especially when my boys are dressed in their symphony’s formal black attire. I cleverly keep a roll of duct tape at the back door.

By now you are probably thinking, “Why do they do it?” “Why have four dogs?” They are some advantages: We never have to worry about picking up dropped food from the floor, dogs are experts at cleaning up what cats leave behind (if you get my drift), and chances are unless they want to be licked to death by a lab who just finished off a bag of Doritos, no one is going to break into our home.

The dogs’ payback

But most importantly, our teenage boys adore these dogs.  After a long day at school, I often see my 6-foot “child” gently curled around the head of our retriever mix, calmly looking him in the eyes and whispering secrets left untold to humans.  I believe the dogs ground them in a way we can’t. No expectations. No rules. Just love.

Which is good, because in seven years when my children graduate from college, I’m giving them each a dog.