Daily I force myself to get out of bed (not just because it’s flipping cold out there), but because I know that apart from having to face the piles of poop that have become a regular occurrence, I will have 16 pairs of eyes following my every move from the minute I step out the bedroom, to the minute I finally crawl into bed at the end of the day. It gets tiring, especially the tripping over them as I try to walk in and out of rooms and they follow me every step of the way. Our nightly visits to the garden to hopefully (me, being ever hopeful), relieve every drop of urine or every bowel content, go pretty much like this. The golden retrievers go straight to their spots and do the deed. Rosie goes and lies down on the grass and watches them. Demi disappears around the corner and I used to assume that she wanted a little privacy, being a 14 year old little lady, she is entitled to her modesty. Rex goes exploring (her partner in crime, also around 14), Charlie charges off to go and have his last dissing session with the neighbours’ dogs, Hercules lies in ambush waiting for him to come back so he can pounce on him and start a new game, Toby uses the time to go and roll in the dust and leaves (of course he is the only one who sleeps on my bed, so why wouldn’t he drag half the garden in too?). Skye stands next to me observing all the goings on, Lilo and Diesel wander around aimlessly until Lilo disappears off into the darkness after Demi. Sasha sometimes does her bit, if the mood grabs her, but it doesn’t grab often. Dollar tries dragging his blanket out with him but he will go and tinkle on every spot every other dog has ever tinkled on in this lifetime, the others usually hide behind bushes so I cannot truthfully say what they do. Then, with temperatures in the lower digits, I try and get them all back inside so I can lock up and go to bed. Then we have the usual calling from the door, everyone except Lilo and Demi usually wander in, and we move through to the sleeping room, otherwise known as “my office”. I start putting blankets out and trying to allocate them according to size, but that’s another story altogether. As soon as I put one down, they all make a beeline for it, so I end up dropping it down as neatly as possible and move to the next one. They all then charge over and try and lie on that one rather, before I’ve even managed to put it on the floor. And so it goes on, each new one I put down gets charged at and whoever lies down first, claims possession. A bit like an “African landgrab” without the red berets (a very South African thing at the moment). Dollar of course, being the resident grumpy ol git, tries every one while dragging his own blanket, which he totally wraps himself in, but manages to position himself during the course of the night, right in the pathway between my bedroom door and the office door – hence the regular face plants en route to make coffee or open front door urgently when one of the dogs is mid squat on my (used to be) cream colored office carpet!!! Then it’s a case of quickly closing the door once they’re all settled, to make my final call at the freezing front door, for Demi and Lilo, only to find they are still out painting the town red, coming back to find ALL the dogs waiting at the office door – my nice orderly sleeping arrangements are a thing of the past. Eventually I decide that Lilo and Demi have chosen to sleep outside and I climb over all the bodies, looking particularly for the hidden shape that is Dollar, and I retire to the peace and quiet of my bedroom. Climbing into beds after days here is almost a religious experience, it’s bliss. This house is freezing and I unashamedly totally abuse my electric blanket. There is nothing nicer than climbing into a heated bed! Just settling, snuggling into pillows and letting that warmth start the great thaw, only to hear the familiar bark at the front door. One of the ladies of the night has returned and wants in!!!! So it’s with loads of mutterings, with a few choice swear words, get out of bed and start the cross country course across the office and over sleeping bodies, out the door, onto freezing parquet flooring to the front door and 9 times out of 10 it’s only one of them so I know I will be repeating this process later on in the evening anyway. Back to the office door, again to find the whole lot of them standing at the door with all the blankets in further disarray. By that time I don’t care if they are all in one pile and they have to sleep on cold floor (next to the heater mind you), because I am going to bed and I am beyond caring anymore! I have tried watching Lilo and Demi and putting a stop to their escapes but then that takes ages wandering around after them, and, the more I call them the more distracted the others become, and spend their pee time watching what’s going on. I tried telling them both off when they come to the door, but then they duck off again, (not going near the cranky old cow), and I wait even longer, so now we try the sweet encouragement, through gritted and shivering teeth to see if they will cut short their excursions through sheer excitement to hear me laying on the sweetness and sugar. Still don’t know how effective that is!