I live with six dogs, two cats, and one husband. I love my life.
Having dogs and cats is a gift for my husband and me, and I can’t imagine being without them. They are kind, patient, innocent and honest, and they constantly entertain us with their infinite love. Each of them is unique and different. They do not control us; they accept life as it is and accept me for who I am, even if I can’t stand myself and my own shortcomings. My pets are my teachers and coaches. I am here to help them live their lives to the fullest. I have found what they like and need in order to have quality lives.
In this excerpt from Healthy Happy Pooch, I describe my life with six dogs and two cats:
Every morning, soon after the sun comes up, our cat Tin Tin wakes up first. He comes up to my face and asks me to make his food. If I don’t wake up right away, he goes into the hallway toward the kitchen and keeps “talking” until I get up. Meanwhile, three of our younger dogs, Happy, Lumi and Bubu, get on the bed and lie down next to us. Bubu likes to be next to my husband Eric, and if he opens his eyes even a little bit, Bubu kisses Eric’s face profusely. The three older dogs, Kula, Oro and Leo, wait politely on their own hemp bed on the floor. The other cat, Mai Mai, cries with her cute voice to also let us know it is time to get up.
As soon as we get up, all of the dogs want to go out in the yard for their toilet matters. While they are in the yard, I make my twig tea (kukicha) and homemade food for my cats. After having the tea, I start making Healthy Happy Pooch (HHP) homemade food for my dogs. Oro, Leo, Bubu and Lumi sit in the kitchen, watching intently as I make the food. Kula sits by the couch and watches me, and Happy lies down by the front door, sprawling her legs like a frog and watching the gate.
I usually prepare their food around 7 or 7:30 am, so they wait patiently and eat between 7:30 and 8:30 am. If the beans and whole grains are already cooked, it will take only about 30–45 minutes for me to prepare food for all six dogs. I never serve their food too hot or too cold, but at room temperature, with slightly warmed liquid added if it needs to be moistened. They don’t mind the wait, as long as I am preparing their food.
If I get a phone call, or somebody comes to the door, or I feel that I have to check an urgent email, they get concerned. Our most impatient dog, Lumi, makes sure that I don’t forget about their food; she follows me everywhere, making noises with her nose. If I don’t get back in the kitchen promptly, she doesn’t hesitate to show her irritation by barking at me. This is really incredible, because as long as I am preparing food—cooking beans or whole grains, cutting vegetables or mixing everything together—they just wait, but if I do something else, they are sure to let me know that my priority is to make their food. They always have excellent appetites and let me know that they are ready to eat by licking the mixing spoon and bowls that I use to prepare their food.
When the food is ready, I call everybody with a command of narande (Japanese for “get in your position”). No matter where they are, they come and sit in their assigned spot, in the order of how fast they eat. First to my left is Kula, who eats very slowly and chews well (a true vegan macrobiotic dog). Next is Leo, who loves to share his food with his girlfriend, Oro, so he always leaves a small portion for her. Third is Oro, who is the most excited to eat, so I ask her to sit, lie down and wait while I change the water bowl, and then she gets to eat. Fourth is Happy, who is worried that the other dogs might eat her food, so I make sure she eats a little away from the others to give her space and feel relaxed. Number five is Lumi, who gets serious before she eats, like she is a private in the army—a soldier waiting for her sergeant’s command. I talk to her gently and touch her so she can relax. The last one, to my extreme right, is Bubu, who is pretty relaxed while waiting, but he has a habit of going after the other dogs’ food. Because of this, I give him a command to wait 20 seconds longer than the other dogs. As a model agility training dog, Bubu learned to wait at least 10 seconds to overcome obstacles before eating his food.
After they finish eating, they all check and lick everyone else’s bowls to make sure there is nothing left. Leo always comes to let me know he appreciates his food and gives me a big smile. Then they go outside once again. After they have healthy bowel movements, they enjoy the morning sunlight on the wooden deck before they go out on their daily walks.
From chapter 7 afterword