Well, to be optimistic, at least this January is way warmer than last year at this time when we had 40 below for nearly 3 weeks and that is in the hills too! We live “in the hills” which only means you are a couple of hundred feet or more off the valley floor (Fairbanks elevation is 436 feet). The “hills” (we live at about 750 feet) are usually warmer that the valley where the cold sinks and stays. But today there is no inversion. I woke up this morning to 27 below. Pretty chilly but at least not 40 below. The dogs are either in the house or in the dog barn pretty much all day. We have many old dogs, a couple nearly 15 years old and I really hate to leave them outside in the colder temperatures. They love being warm and have settled into the routine of the barn.
In the early morning everyone goes outside and gets to run around for awhile. Then everyone is brothed with a rich meat broth. Back in the house and the barn they go. 3 hours later the barn dogs are let outside to run around again and pee and poop. The indoor dogs can go in and out as they please (we are the “doormen”) but they rarely stay out for very long. After another warm up in the barn it is the afternoon play time. They are usually out for an hour or so running around and playing. Some dogs just go into a dog house and curl up, but others play hard to use up some pent up energy. Feeding time is around 3 pm. Back in the barn for a few hours until the next break. Their last break is at 11 pm and they are good until 6:30 or 7 the next morning.
I used to have straw or hay in the barn but this winter we have tried dog beds. I hated cleaning out the broken down straw every couple of weeks (or sometimes even once a week). If dog beds get soiled (rarely) then we just toss them in the washer. There are 2 dogs now that are still on straw. Borax and Chance. They had a wonderful initial frenzy of ripping their beds apart (I luckily quickly saved them) before I decided they weren’t going to adjust to a bed.
Most of the time there is a break in the temps where we can get all the dogs for a skijor. But this week+ has been too cold. For boredom problems I give the dogs meaty marrow and knuckle bones (bought over the long term from Fred Meyer’s). Usually when I go to the store I pick up a package or 2 and throw them in the freezer. It takes quite awhile for the dogs to lick out the frozen marrow or chew off the meat on frozen bones. Then the next day I switch all the bones to different boxes and the dogs think they got a new treat.
When they are loose we spend time petting, rubbing all over and generally having fun with the dogs. We want them to have an interesting and stimulated life but can be harder in these temperatures.
So our daily routine is set around the dogs. Often we take a longer walk with some of the dogs that are good about not running off. In the evening it is time for me to go to work and time for Don to get more of his computer stuff done. He is lucky to be able to work at home.