Kayteís Dogs In The City

I have never lived in a big city. I grew up on a 750 acre cattle ranch and went from there to UC Santa Barbara and then to Phoenix, Arizona. ANYWHERE is larger than where I grew up. But I must confess, television shows like Sex In The City have glorified big city life and the thought of living in a true big city environment was quite exciting! However something I didnít realize until after moving here with my three dogs is that none of those television characters have animals!

Much to my dismay, I quickly learned that my exciting new life was not going to include shopping for shoes, sipping martinis, and hitting all the latest hot spots. Instead it would be spent on 7am walks in the rain, picking up dog doo, cleaning carpets and, much to my surprise, retrieving my dogs from various neighbors who found them wandering the hallways of my high rise!

I have been here since the end of April and not a day has gone by when something has not happened that either puts me into complete panic or has me rolling with laugher! So, it occurred to me that I needed to chronicle my life in the big city with three dogs! So meet Hektor, Ella and Mischa. Hektor is a 4-year-old chocolate beagle (brown and white), Ella a three-year-old blue ticked beagle (black tan and white with ticking), and Mischa a ten-month-old red short-haired miniature dachshund. Saying I have my hands full is a gross under statement!

Apartment life is quite different from the suburbs. My home in Phoenix has a wonderful dog-friendly back yard with a doggie door so the dogs have the run of the house. I realized how spoiled a doggie door made me the first morning I was here, when 6am rolled around and I had three dogs with full bladders. This 6am routine and 11pm pre-bed potty trip, not to mention several times throughout the day, got old FAST. I had to simplify my life and increase my sleep! So I hired Jean, a wonderful retired woman who might love my dogs as much as I do, to take them on walks while I am at practice and at games. Then I took it a step further and realized that I had a fairly decent sized balcony and could make it a little retreat for my pups. A few trips to Home Depot and the budgeted money for shoes and martinis down the drain, and I have built a yard on my balcony!

When I say yard, I mean yard...grass, plants and flowers galore...all dog friendly. This is a place where they can lay in the sun, look out at the city and all its combustion, and, most importantly, a place where at 11 pm and all the hours in between they can go potty if they need to! I had simplified my life...or so I thought!

Too much has happened since the end of April when we arrived, but there are a few things that you just have to know. So I will give you the top 10 list of most hilarious and most aggravating things I have experienced with my dogs in the city:

10.Spraining my ankle during training camp and walking the dogs on crutches! What could make that situation worse? An idiot who thought barking at my dogs while Iím hobbling across the intersection was helpful! I wanted to take my crutch and beat him over the head with it but I had to settle for verbally expressing my displeasure...

9. Mischa, whose favorite thing is being chased, picked my favorite pair of underwear out of the laundry basket so I would chase her around the apartment.

8. Taking Hektor, Ella and Mischa to Candiceís apartment to meet her dog. Within a minute, Hektor had opened a cabinet in her kitchen so Ella could help herself to the dog food!

7. Hektor mounting a miniature pug in the park like she was a ride at the fair and me with two other dogs trying to pull her out of his clutches.

6. The homeless man in the park who has offered me, on multiple occasions, money for Hektor. I always laugh it off and explain there is no way I can part with my dogs. Then I realized every time I saw him he offered less -- my last offer was for 35 cents.

5. Mischa getting spayed and praying it would mellow her out and realizing if that doesnít phase her -- which it didnít -- I have my hands full with just that one. Iím coming to terms with little Mischa and all her craziness.

4. Getting a phone call after practice, before we left on the bus for a road trip, that one of my neighbors had my dog. I couldnít even comprehend how that was possible. At the same time I was freaking out because he had one dog and that meant I had two that were unaccounted for. After rushing home, still wearing my sweaty practice gear, I learned that Hektor (who in my mind has always been a prodigy) had learned how to open my apartment door which was dead bolted! You read that correctly: he can open the door to my apartment. Thankfully, Ella and Mischa were sleeping in my bed completely unphased by the fact that Hektor was MIA.

3. Well, you know how they say ďFool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?Ē Well, shame on me! Hektor managed to get out again, but this time he had an accomplice! He decided he and Ella needed a little adventure. After receiving another phone call from my neighbor (who was called at work by my doorman -- I felt soooo bad), I rushed home to find Hektor and Ella chilliní in the garbage room, which is where the neighbor put them to keep them from getting on the elevator and literally having the run of the entire city! Relieved that they were okay and frustrated that my beagle is Houdiniís apprentice, I opened my apartment door to see complete disarray! Mischa, who freaked out when she was left alone in the apartment, had pulled back the carpet by the door and tried to burrow her way out by chewing up about 6 square feet of carpet padding! Thank goodness I was raised to be a very handy woman. I was able to replace the carpet padding, repair the carpet to its previous state, and figure out that my dead bolt was directly linked to my door handle so that when you open the door from the inside the dead bolt releases. The solution to my escaping dogs...an additional dead bolt!

2. After that fiasco I thought I would never have to worry about my dogs getting loose from an apartment again. Then came our road trip to Washington. Stacey Dales, being the wonderful teammate that she is, took my dogs to her apartment for the night (she didnít travel because of her hamstring injury). Then after our game, I starting getting non-stop calls from a 312 number I didnít recognize. Come to find out it was one of Staceyís neighbors, who found ALL THREE OF MY DOGS cruising the hallway with her apartment door was wide open! When Stacey got home her neighbors had put my dogs back in her apartment and duct-taped her door shut and anchored it with a potted plant! Needless to say I felt terrible that my dogs were being a nuisance for Stace, but once again, Hektor is a prodigy and you know how difficult prodigies can be!

1. Taking the dogs potty is not only about potty time, itís about socializing as well! All my dogs have always been super friendly and never aggressive towards other dogs, which makes my life easier. If I were to give you a description of the personalities of my dogs you will better understand this situation: Hektor hasnít met a person or an animal that he doesnít like and wants to be best friends with. Mischa, being a puppy, is excitable and for some reason thinks barking is playing (which frequently freaks dogs and their owners out). Then there is Ella. Ella isnít necessarily what one would call overly social. She is friendly but has limits. Everything is on her time and her terms. She will go smell another dog and then allow their owner to pet her for a second. Then she wanders off and sits looking completely put off by Hektor and Mischaís excitement over strangers.

As Iíve learned in Chicago, most dog owners in the city have small dogs. But when someone owns a big dog, it is usually a golden retriever or a lab. Neither breed is aggressive or intimidating. However, there is a man with two Rottweilers who walks his dogs where I take mine. Itís never good when the chains around a dogís neck can also tow a car. So I was hesitant to let my dogs greet two Rottweilers because of how they might react to Hektor and Mischaís excitement. So I let him bring his dogs to mine to hopefully make it a bit safer. They were fine, very friendly with Hektor and Mischa. Ella never went up to them and just stayed sitting. Well, they wanted to meet Ella so one came near her and without moving she simply gave what I have come to know as Ellaís warning growl. To the Rottweiler ownerís surprise, not mine, his dog started backing off. Ella weighs about 25 pounds to his 90 and she had him shaking! She would never attack another dog because she would never need to. She is like the parent who has THE LOOK. When their child sees THE LOOK they know they are walking on thin ice and itís best to retreat!

Despite Hektor becoming the amazing disappearing beagle, Mischa trying to burrow out of my apartment through the floor, and Ellaís mood swings, I have to admit they are worth the work and the time they require. Whenever I walk through the door after being gone 3 hours or 3 minutes they are so excited to see me. Who wouldnít want to come home to that?