The doghouse – keeping it clean

Some of you have suggested that it was an awful lot of work, looking after seven dogs (no one has mentioned eleven, I suppose it’s beyond your imagination to understand how to do that!) but it didn’t seem to be at the time.  That is, one dog is a lot of work and two is a bit extra.  Having three isn’t anything more at all, and so it goes on.  And there was plenty of room so, whilst they enjoyed a walk with one of us, there was no need for them to have several long walks a day when there was a garden big enough for them to run in.

What dogs do mean is more housework.  And it was a house that seemed to take a lot of cleaning anyway.  It was a light, airy house with high ceilings and, as you can see from the photo, big sash windows, which let in a lot of draughts and therefore dust.  We had open fires in the winter and that created dust too of course.  And the dogs trod in dust and shed hair and if you didn’t clean up every day there were dustbunnies drifting across the floor.  We had no fitted carpets downstairs (except in the kitchen, as it happens) and the parquet floors had to be polished daily.  In dry weather, you might get away with going around with a dry mop first to get rid of the dust and hairs, then go over with an electric polisher, but  dogs (and people) coming in with wet feet left pale patches on the floor and you had to start by spreading Mansion House liquid polish with a mop, then polish it off with the electric machine.  That would be done a couple of times a week, even in dry weather.  Dusting was done most days and was thorough.  Every piece of silver (which was all kept out, none in cupboards) and every piece of china had to be dusted, picked up and the furniture it was sitting on dusted.  It was all taken off the dresser or cabinet regularly so that the furniture itself was polished.  The ceilings and picture rails were dusted with a long-handled brush and the rugs were hoovered daily.  The silver was polished every week – sometimes you could get away with just ‘rubbing it up’ but often you had to get out the Goddard’s silver polish, especially if there had been foggy weather.  Brass was polished slightly less frequently, but at least once a month.

Obviously, kitchen and bathroom cleaning was done every day and bedrooms regularly, probably rather less than downstairs because they were used less so didn’t get so dusty.  Beds were changed every week and sheets, pillowcases and towels were sent to the laundry.  My mother and I used to wonder, in later years, at our complaints at having to unpack the laundry basket every week, check off each item and fill it again, making a list as we went.  Once we did the laundry ourselves, we appreciated what a luxury it had been.  Johnny called in every week to pick up one basket and deliver the previous week’s, ditto the dry cleaning.  Everything else, my mother hand-washed.  The window cleaner called once a week and I’ve a feeling that, once in a while, he was also asked to clean the windows inside, but I may be wrong there.

Oh, by the way, while Wink was here last week I asked her the purpose of the little room on the left of the stairs in the passageway to the guest bedroom and the upstairs loo.  It was the ironing room, apparently, an ironing board was kept set up there permanently.  She’s right of course, I’d forgotten.

As I’ve said before, the dogs used to be let in and out of the tall narrow side windows in the drawing room and dining room.  However, if it was raining they were allowed out but not in.  So they’d come to the window, scratch at the glass and you’d stand and point to the back door (which was way round the side of the house and they’d run off.  If you were busy for a minute and didn’t want to go – maybe a vital moment in a tv programme, then it wouldn’t be long before one of the dogs would reappear looking impatient and you’d have to go to let them in straight away and apologise.  Of course, it took a few minutes to dry them with towels before they could come through to the rest of the house.

The dogs’ food was cooked freshly for years, my mother bought cheap cuts of meat and it was boiled up with vegetables, a few days’ supply at a time, and we cut it up daily and biscuit was added along with some of the gravy.  They especially liked liver, but it was too rich for them to have more than a little in with the rest.  They also had household scraps.  We’d never not had dogs, so we didn’t notice the extra work, and when there were a lot of them it took a bit more time, but not much.  We walked them at least once a day, but only because they enjoyed it, they got plenty of exercise in the garden.  Susie and I used to go off together often, sneaking out unobserved by the other dogs.  I remember it as being me who did a lot of the dog walking, certainly by the time I was ten or so.  We didn’t use poop scoops but they weren’t often necessary anyway – the dogs preferred to ‘go’ unobserved in the garden.  Certainly, no male dog would deign to squat in front of any of us.

6 comments on “The doghouse – keeping it clean

  1. georgie

    Exterior windows washed once a week seems like a real luxury. Well that and sending the laundry out. Does fog do something to tarnish silver quicker?

  2. Z

    I don’t think it was all the windows every week, upstairs one week and downstairs the next. And yes, I think it was because the air was still and moist and pollutants trapped so the air was dirtier, and minute particles of moisture stuck to the silver and the chemical reaction to the pollutants tarnished it.

  3. Scarlet Blue

    I had to have a nap at the very thought of all this hard work.
    I would have loved to have grown up with so many dogs. My mum use to do something nasty with turkey legs in the pressure cookery for our family dog… and then there was the tripe… what a whiff.

  4. Z

    It’s just occurred to me why I think I’m really lazy and others say I’m not. It’s all comparative. Mind you, I do as little housework as I can get away with.

  5. allotmentqueen

    I felt tired just reading this.

    Was your garden just a giant dog toilet? That doesn’t sound very appealing.

    I’m afraid the tag on my car keyring says “Dull women have immaculate houses” – the dirt has to be really visible before I would even consider it. I like to see results.

  6. Z

    They must have buried it, we never saw any evidence of anything at all! Dark patches of grass on the lawn from peeing bitches, the dogs lifted legs against trees (especially on walks, leaving their mark) but no poop.

    The house was comfortable, by no means immaculate, I promise. We were all riotously untidy and within five minutes of clearing up another dog had walked in with muddy feet. And yes, what’s the point of dusting before you can write your name in the dust? Right now, my kitchen floor is filthy. It’ll be quite satisfying to wash it, possibly tomorrow (it’s been over a week so far). Sometime in the next week or two, guaranteed.


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