Moving Kennel #3

As part of the Big Doins at Piney Mountain, I moved Lennon’s kennel today.   This was Phase One Step Three.  Not that that matters.

The thing is that this kennel could not be taken apart and moved one piece at a time.  Noooooo … this one had to be moved fully assembled (except for the 4×4 timber foundation, those I moved separately). Blondie and Lennon supervised.

If it were possible to get three other people with sound shoulders and strong backs who could all show up here at the same time (that’s the hard part) we could have each taken hold of a corner and trundled the thing around to its new spot in a matter of minutes. Sort of like this but on a much smaller scale:

But I don’t have such a labor force, so I did it by myself and it took all afternoon.

It’s moved now, and tied down on its foundation, which I put under it again once the kennel was where I wanted it. I need to get a few bales of wood chips to put in there to keep Lennon out of the mud when it rains, but otherwise it’s good.

And, the work area around the slab is cleared.  Well, almost.  Now that Lennon’s kennel is moved and the Krazy Fence is buttoned up tight I can take out those last three panels and clear the work area completely.  That will take less than an hour … but I’ll do that another day.  Today, I’m tuckered out.

We want to avoid going into debt with a second mortgage to pay for this project so we’re taking it on as we accumulate the cash to pay for it. If you’d like to help us speed that along, your donation would be greatly appreciated. You may make a donation on-line with the PayPal button below or you may mail a check to:

Doug Bittinger
1198 Piney Mountain Road
Newport, TN 37821

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Kennel Deconstruction

It was a chilly but sunny Saturday morning with no rain or high winds predicted for the day.  It seemed like a good day to work on the first step in Phase One of our Kennel Upgrade project.

Oak Beams are HEAVY

Phase One, Step One is to move a lumber pile out of the driveway so the concrete truck can get close enough to the kennel location to discharge it’s load into the forms.  I have been working on that the past couple of days.  This photo was just the start, about half the pile is moved now.  I’ll finish that up in the coming week.

Phase One Step Two is to dismantle Kennels #1 and #2.  Today I want to strip the roofs off of these kennels.

All three kennels are in the way of where the concrete slab will go (See: Big Doins article) so they have to be moved.  Now that Selma and Lucy have gone to New Jersey, #1 and #2 are not in use.  The tricky bit here is that the kennels form part of the perimeter fence that keeps the dogs in the yard.  Were I to simply take them apart, the dogs would have to be walked on leashes any time they came outside, and running and frolicking would be right out of the question.  Since this could take a little while to accomplish, I need an alternative plan.

Obviously I went a bit farther than I planned to go today, but it was going well and I was feeling good and decided to just keep at it until I got this step done.  There is lots more work to do: digging out the landscape timbers that formed the foundation under the kennel panels, scrubbing and storing the dog houses and beds, and of course I still have to move Lennon’s kennel.  That’s Phase One Step Three.

Overlaps the sidewalk area

One corner of this kennel is inside the area that the slab will cover.  But even if it were a couple of feet further back and clear of the slab, when Bob smooths the concrete he will probably use a long handled float.  That long handle will need some room to work with, and this kennel being in the way will be a hassle.

But because of the way this one is built (my most advanced design), it will not be a simple matter to dismantle it, move the parts, and put them back together.  It would be better to move the kennel intact.  I’ll detach it from its foundation of 4×4 timbers, but the chain link panels and roof will remain clamped together — unless it is simply beyond my strength to move it as an assembly.

I left “containment” around the work area because I will be opening the temporary fence to get kennel #3 where it needs to go, and because there are gaps under the temp fence that might encourage dogs to try digging out.  I’ll block those with the timbers I remove from kennels 1 & 2 foundations.  Removing the three remaining panels from the work area will be a simple matter and can be done the day before Bob arrives to set up forms.  Until then, they are insurance.

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Big Doins On Piney Mountain

We at Piney Mountain Foster Care are launching into a new project.  That project begins with the departure of Lucy and Selma this Friday.

Normally when a foster dog or two (or three) leave us, I have the weekend to power wash and sanitize the dog houses and kennels that are now empty.  But this time I will be dismantling these kennels instead.  But not because I’m quitting, not even cutting back.  Instead we are upgrading these kennels.

Kennel #1 was the abode of Cochise, our very first foster dog, back in 2012.  At first, that kennel was erected on the ground in an area that had been a driveway.  The ground was hard-packed mudcrete – a mixture of dried mud and gravel.  This was fine in dry weather, but got sloppy when he pranced around in there when it rained.  To help keep him clean, we laid down a thick layer of straw.  That failed!  Upon the advice of other kennel owners I elevated the kennel on landscape timbers and filled them with a 3″ layer of pea gravel.

Pea gravel worked better, but eventually the gravel got driven down into the mud and mud squooshed up into the gravel and we were back to mudcrete.  So I dug all that out, laid down a layer of Rok-Cloth — a heavy fibrous mat that keeps the pebbles above the mud.  That worked well until the dogs started digging.  Once the mat was torn up, the mud and gravel mixed and were are right back where I started.  I need a more stable, dig-proof surface.

Why Concrete?

I need a way of getting the dogs above the water that flows through the area in a heavy rain.  I need a surface that is stable (hard) enough to prevent digging.  I need a surface that can be easily cleaned every day.  Concrete seems the natural solution.

Kennel owners cautioned us against concrete as a floor because it is hard on the dog’s joints as they lay on it, causing thick pads to form at the elbows especially.  And I can see how that would be true if we didn’t provide the dogs with elevated beds, blankets, and a dog house.  Laying on these will take the wear and tear off their limbs.

Phase 1

The first step of this upgrade will be to pour a 13 foot by 24 foot concrete slab next to our garage.  Robert Gann has given us a good price on this.  But before he can do that I have to get the three kennels we now have out of the way.  Two are sitting right where the slab has to go.  I’ll dismantle them completely.  The third is in the way, but will be needed by Lennon, who will be staying with us for a while: two to three months probably.  I’ll move that down into the yard.

Since the kennels form part of our perimeter fence, and because the work area has to be clear to allow a concrete truck to wiggle in there, I will use the panels of the dismantled kennels to build a temporary fence across the yard from the back fence to the mobile home that serves as doggie bunkhouse and my workshop.

Once the slab is poured and cured, I will erect three kennels, each 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep, atop it.  That will close in the fencing again and the kennel complex will be in a neat, compact unit sitting next to our garage – which is currently a lumber shed.


  1. Kennel Deconstruction
  2. Moving Kennel #3
  3. Ready for Concrete
  4. I’ve Been Slabbed!

Phase 1 is complete. The cost for Phase 1 was $1,500.00

Phase 2

The second phase will be to build a solid roof over the new kennels.  A roof with enough overhang to keep rain well away from the kennels in calm weather.  This roof will be a lean-to attached to the current garage roof and supported by posts and a beam outside of the kennels and a sidewalk.  Sort of like this:

You can see that right now, the garage roof and the kennel roof actually funnel rain into a slot between the two.  This is not a problem in a light rain: the slope and the deep gravel allow rain to flow through.  But in a heavy rain (like we’ve been getting) the dogs are standing in water unless they are on their bed or in their dog house.  This new roof will channel all the runoff out beyond the kennels, and a gutter and down spout could pipe it into the drainage system and eliminate splatter in all but the heaviest rain.

Roof framing completed with the help of experienced carpenter John Kaprocki. Thanks John!   The metal roofing has been ordered.  We will pick it up on Monday.  Click for details and more photos.
With the roofing and trim installed.  Still need to paint the wall and install kennels.
Doggie doors to interior cut and panels going back in. Click photo for details and photos.

Cost for materials: $1822.00
Labor was all volunteer.

Phase 3

The final phase will be to empty the lumber from the shed/garage and clean it out so I can construct three 4 foot by 8 foot kennel spaces inside the garage (see Phase 1 drawing above).  The walls between kennel units will be 4×16 inch cinder block to prevent “arguments” between dogs while inside.  A chain link front panel with a door will be built for each.

Holes will be cut through the block wall between inside and outside kennels and rubber-flap doors installed to  help block the wind.  This will allow the dogs to move from inside to outside at will.  By installing a sliding wooden door too, I can block a dog inside or outside when I need to.  This set-up worked well at the shelter where I used to work.

Our bath tub currently is home of a shelving unit for foster dog equipment and food.

I’ll insulate the garage roof and install an infrared heater and small ceiling fan above each kennel to provide heat and cooling as needed.  The building already has a big squirrel-cage blower mounted in the loft to pull out heat in the summer.  A window air conditioner could be installed if needed.

The big roll-up door will come out and the kennel end of the opening will be blocked in.  The entry door will be moved to a more central position.  The rest of the front wall will be framed and covered with siding.  When complete, the front of the building will be painted to pretty it up.

Shelving inside will allow me to move dog stuff out of our home and into the kennel.  That will be convenient in many ways, including having use of our bath tub once again.

Do you want to help?

And that’s the plan.  I am doing my best to keep the costs as low as possible by doing as much of the work myself as possible and enlisting volunteers.

We want to avoid going into debt to pay for this so we’re taking it on as we accumulate the cash to pay for it.  If you’d like to help us speed that along, your donation would be greatly appreciated.  You may make a donation on-line with the PayPal button below or you may mail a check to:

Doug Bittinger
1198 Piney Mountain Road
Newport, TN 37821

Marie has suggested that we have a plaque with the names of donors made up to go in the completed kennel building.  I think that’s appropriate.  If you want to donate but DON”T want your name on the plaque, say so in the notes area or enclose a note with your check and we will respect your privacy.

And thank you!

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Announcing Big Dog Treats Bulk Box

Sales of the peanut butter dog treats have been gratifying, and we’ve made 390 sales to date and contributed $1,179.00 in proceeds toward Steele Away Home’s veterinary bills.  When compared to what the total vet bills have been for the past 14 months, $1,179.00 is not much, I’m sure, but that is over a thousand dollars that did not have to be raised some other way.  And, these treats are catching on.  Just today, a lady named Macey told me that her dog Chloe will not eat any other treats, now that she’s hooked on these peanut butter cookies.  Many others have told me that their dogs love them too.

The original dog treat is about 7/8 inch in diameter and a quarter inch thick.  They come packed 40 in a food-safe, resealable bag.

Comments from people who own large dogs and wanted a bigger treat led me to develop the Big Dog version.  This larger, bone shaped treat uses five times the amount of dough as a round treat and comes packed 8 in a bag.  Both versions cost $3.00 with all of that money going to the veterinarian bills for Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue.

Recently, large dog owners have been asking about getting a bulk package and discount.  So I spent some time today baking up a double batch of cookies: all as Big Dog Version, and experimenting with packaging.  I could just use a gallon freezer bag, but that offers little protection against breakage.  Then I came across the perfect container:

This nifty container is a food-safe plastic tub that just holds 40 Big Dog treats, it’s sturdy enough to protect them, and is resealable to keep them fresh.  It’s PERFECT!

40 Big Dog treats is the equivalent of 5 bags (which would normally cost $15.00) so I’m pricing the Bulk Box at $12.00.  For the moment these are a special order item because they take up a lot of counter space and I don’t want to encroach on Cedarwood’s front desk real estate that much.  Let me know when you need one and please give me a couple of days lead time because, believe it or not, I do have other things going on around here besides baking cookies and I like to send them out fresh baked.

So, what do you think?  Interested?  Please leave a comment below. Thanks!


Delivering / Shipping Dog Treats

Some folks have asked if these treats are available for mail-order. We are now willing to try this with the bulk packs or groups of 6 pouches.

If you are with a rescue that is receiving a dog from us choose the Rescue delivery and the cookies will come with the dog at no added charge.

For local delivery, please contact me directly to place your order and pay with cash upon delivery.


All proceeds raised by The Julian Fund go to pay the veterinarian bills. This is an all-volunteer organization: no donations to the rescue are spent on staff salaries.  PMFC is a GuideStar accredited 501(c)(3) organization, therefore your donation is tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

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Upgrades for Kennel #3

Our third kennel was installed hastily on a sloping surface that was once a gravel driveway.  As I usually do, I built a foundation for it of pressure treated 4x4s.  I did not take my usual course of hauling in 1 1/2 tons of pea gravel to fill the foundation and provide a cleaner floor for the dog in that kennel.  The reason for that decision has to do with impending upgrades and a concrete slab, that when that time comes will require me to MOVE kennel 3 (and all that gravel).

Recent prolonged rains have made the floor of #3 a muddy mess and I need to address that somehow so I can keep the dog cleaner, as well as keeping the dog bed and deck and dog house cleaner.  Letting them out to run in the yard is bad enough, they don’t need a muddy kennel as well.

I decided to try the chipped pine that is used in horse stalls.  So Rebel and I made a run to Tractor Supply Co. in Newport and bought 4 bales (32 cubic feet) of the pine chips.  The bales are compressed, so when I opened them I used a rake to break up the bales and “fluff” the chips as I spread them out. If the rains continue, the chips will get wet, and stay wet, but hopefully will keep the dog out of the mud.  And since there are a dog house, a dog bed, and a deck to lie on and stay dry, having a wet floor should not be a big issue.  When the next upgrade takes place, I can haul the used wood chips out to my garden for composting.

This is an ideal time to do this because we just sent two foster dogs off on rescue and will be getting two new fosters next week.  So I spent the day scrubbing and sanitizing dog houses, dog beds, bowls, and decking.  I now have about 5″ of wood chips across the bottom of the kennel to help keep the new resident out of the mud.  That is providing that the new dog is not a digger who will just stir mud up from underneath.  This has been a problem with some dogs, even in the gravel floored kennels.

I put Roc-Kloth ™ down under the gravel to keep the rock from being driven down into the mud below when it rains.  That worked great until dogs started digging and tearing up the heavy fabric underliner.  Now the mud and rock are mixing again and the kennels are getting the dogs dirty.  It seems the only way to keep things clean is going to be a concrete slab.  So that’s next.  But until I can afford that, I’ll do the best I can with what we have to provide as healthy an environment as I can.

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Pipe Dreaming About Kennels

Piney Mountain Foster Care currently has three outdoor kennels that measure 10 feet wide by 10 feet deep by 6 feet high.  We also have indoor crates so each of these three dogs can be moved inside the “bunkhouse” during inclement weather.

In thinking about future improvements, my thoughts tend to run along two channels:

  1. Motivated by the constant plea of “Does anyone have room for this poor darling?” it would seem sensible to add more kennels and crates to increase my capacity,
  2. Or I could repair/upgrade the facilities I have and maintain the current capacity to focus on providing the specialized care that I am often called upon to give dogs with certain needs.

Bigger, Better, More

The garage that the two adjoined kennels are next to is 24 feet long, enough for three 8 foot wide kennels.  Leaving a narrow aisle (2 feet) and having two more 8 x 10’s across from them (leaving space for steps into the end of the trailer that is bunkhouse and workshop and a passage to the shop driveway)  and then one more 8×10 snugged up beside the trailer on the driveway side, sort of by itself, but not really.  This would be good for an aggressive dog that would tend to attack the fencing between kennels to get at his neighbor.

Because of the slope, the 24’ by 22’ concrete slab will have to be stepped: 3 kennels and the walkway on the lower level, the other two kennels on the step-up.  I also want a floor drain running down the middle of the walkway to channel rain and hose water toward the trailer where the drain tiles will take it out to the ditch that runs alongside the shop driveway.

Tunneling prevention

The kennels we have are mounted atop wooden timbers.  This serves as visual impediment for diggers.  I try not to leave gaps that will catch a dog’s eye and cause them to think, “heyyyyy, I wonder …”.  This also helps prevent rust in the lower rails and gives me low walls (3”) that I can fill with pea gravel.  There is rock cloth under the gravel, but if a dog decides to start digging, neither the loose gravel nor the rock cloth will stop them.  But the fact that the kennels are sitting on what was once our driveway and is made of compacted clay and gravel does slow them down.  I have not had one dig out of a kennel yet.  Some have dug pits, but no tunnels.

The idea of putting all kennels on concrete slabs is an upgrade to insure I retain that record.  I don’t care how determined a dog is, they can’t dig out through a 4 inch thick (or better) concrete slab.  Even a Beagle.  Beagles can be fiendishly clever, but they do have limits. It would also aid in cleaning and disinfecting kennels between dogs.

We went with pea gravel floors because it’s supposed to be easier on a dog’s joints than laying on concrete.  But we also provide a dog house (with insulated floor) and raised dog beds.  So they have options to the concrete for comfort.

And then there’s the Dream Kennel roof.  Right now the left side of the garage roof and the right side of the kennel roof channel rain water into the slot between both.  In a heavy rain, that kennel roof might as well not be there because those kennels get soaked.

My pipe dream is to build a sloped shed style roof from that hip in the garage roof that will reach out over both rows of kennels and the walkway between AND offer at least a foot of overhang on all three sides.  I’ve been thinking wood roof with shingles – and posts and support beam running along one side of the walkway so the rafters don’t have to be steel I beams or something.

Focus on Special Care

The problem with packing in as many dogs as I possibly can is that the reason some of them come here will be sacrificed.  I am known among our rescue group as a dog whisperer because of my past success in rehabilitating dogs with behavioral issues that made them seem nonredeemable.  At least two were saved from destruction because of their behaviors.  I also accept dogs that are to undergo heartworm treatment and other medical issues that make them more of a burden than most fosters are willing to take on.

Dealing with these issues takes a considerable investment of time and effort on top of the routine potty breaks and play time that all fosters get.  Since I am doing this alone I can only, realistically, handle a couple of high-care dogs at a time.

We currently have two dogs that we adopted, and two more long term fosters (here for life) that live in the house with us.  Three outside fosters makes seven dogs.  Adding 3 more would make 10 dogs to care for on a full time basis.  Not all of whom will get along with all of the others, and a few would need intensive care of one kind or another.  Am I ABLE to do that by myself?  I’m not sure I can.  If the special care is my focus, three kennels is enough.  Upgrade them to improve security and comfort (slab and good roof) and stick with three.

Balancing Act

Of course it doesn’t have to be a black and white case of maxing capacity or caring only for special needs dogs.  The two can be blended: maybe 4 kennels (the three along the garage and an isolation kennel) with one of those a special needs dog.

And there is the fact that it wouldn’t matter if I had 20 kennels, there would always be the call of “Can you take one more?”  In rescue, the dogs never stop coming, and never will until rampant breeding is ended and the population brought under control through spay/neuter regulations.

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Progress Notes: Oct 7, 2018

We’ve taken in two new pack members this week, and are planning another facilities upgrade.

Low Rider

Seriously? Don’t you have a harness that fits?

I picked up Low Rider on Tuesday.  She went straight into a crate in the bunkhouse for several reasons.

  • She was infested with fleas.  We work hard to keep fleas out of our facility, so that has to be dealt with before she can come anywhere near our other dogs.
  • She is fearful.  She’s obviously been abused and is frightened of new people, insects, falling leaves, and the outdoors in general.  But not dogs: she ran right up to Ugg and Lady and said howdy to each.  She’s only comfortable in a crate and prefers a quiet environment to herself.  The bunkhouse is perfect now that it’s not so hot every day.  I can run my big turbo fan in front of a window and keep it tolerable in there.
  • She would not walk on a leash.  If used with a collar, she’d drop and gator-roll trying to get away from it.  A harness works better, but it has to be removed when she goes back into her crate or she’ll chew it up.  We lost a $30 Walk-Rite harness learning that lesson.  The next smallest harness I had was a poor fit, but it served the purpose while I ordered more harnesses.

Wielding Unfamiliar Tools

I am something of a handyman. I often make repairs around our house and property. I am, by no means, an expert at plumbing, electrical, or concrete work but I understand the principles and can usually cobble my way through a repair project. For small repairs I often employ the familiar tools and various glues, a staple gun, nails, screws, and yes: even duct tape. But today I needed to make a repair for which none of these would help. Today I needed to bring into service — a needle and thread!

One of the dogs got overly enthusiastic and tore a hole in the cover of a dog bed. Discovering that there was “stuff” inside, she proceeded to pull what was inside, out. Thus she tore the end off one of the fabric tubes full of fiberfill that makes a bolster around the dog bed. She also pulled a basketball sized wad of fiberfill out. I caught her at it, gathered the filler and put the bed up until it could be repaired. Today, I tackle that.

Dog Bed Repair: Man Style

The Dogtor is in

Every once in a while, the dogs get revved up because something exciting is going on outside and I’m not in the house to calm them down (because I’m part of what’s going on outside). When they get all wild-eyed they sometimes decide they need to “kill” a dog bed. The damage is not intentional. If they flap a blanket, damage is minimal. Flap a dog bed and it tends to tear the cover. Once the cover is torn, stuffing pops out. Once stuffing pops out, everyone *needs* to help pull it out. There is just something about dogs and fiberfill!

Callie earns bedroom sleeping privileges.

This is mostly Callie, but Blondie sometimes gets into it too. Callie is usually very good to her bedding, but when The Beagles get nusto and run through the house Barroorooing, that gets Callie excited too — if she’s loose. When crated she sits calmly and watches them. So if I have to leave the house for more than a couple of minutes, and can’t take them out with me, I crate Callie and Buddy. The rest will be fine.

When a bed gets torn, the proper thing to do would be to put the stuffing back inside and sew a patch over the hole. But I don’t even know where the needles and thread are kept, much less claim to be adept at using them. So I use the skills and materials I do have:

Innovation In Dog Treats

The Dogtor is in

The old saying about necessity being the mother of invention is absolutely true. In so many instances I have cobbled together something or other specifically to meet a need in the life of my family or friends. Even my life as a furniture maker was made successful because I could design pieces to meet the specific needs or desires of my clients. I find that even in making dog treats, I’m looking for ways to innovate.

Being Fussy About Dog Treats

dog treats in a bowlFor the past few months I have been helping out our canine rescue group: Steele Away Home, by making healthy dog treats that are sold in Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital. The purchase price of these treats gets applied to the rescue’s medical bill at Cedarwood. This is one of several efforts Marie and I do as The Julian Fund, which raises funds specifically for S.A.H.’s veterinary bill.