During the summer the pace around here is alittle more relaxed and every second of the day doesn't seem quite as planned out as in the fall/winter. Once we hit this time of year, we start to look for ways to steal extra minutes out of the day.
Our routine for feeding has always been somewhat more time consuming then many big dog yards. Many kennels just leave the bowls with the dogs or mount 'feeding cans' on the sides of the dog's houses. Both are very viable options, but just not the way we like to do things. We have a feeding table where all the bowls are kept and where we take buckets of kibble out to. I measure out meals for each dog, then we walk around and hand out the bowls of kibble - then go back and collect all the bowls. Bowl collecting time is a chance to spend visiting with the dogs and often we take more time collecting bowls then it takes to actually do the feeding. It's a nice relaxing way to 'wind down' the day in the summer.
However, when training kicks into full gear things change, not only do we follow up the kibble feeding with a serving of 'soup', the 'A' string dogs are also getting fed at least twice a day. So, our ½ hour - 45-minute evening ritual turns into about 1 - 1 ½ hours at least twice a day. When Mark is working nights, I feed on my own, which stretches things out even longer.
A couple years ago, because of a tip from Martin Buser, I bought a 'tipping dog dish' from Cold Spot Feeds that mounts on the side of the dog's house (Dish Saver 3-qt from www.coldspotfeeds.com). I didn't like the fact that you couldn't take the dish out of the holder to clean - and they were very expensive, but it would save time, it did keep the dishes off the ground and stop the boys from peeing in them (a disgusting habit that most of our boys have). The dish floated around our garage, as we hoped it would provide us with some inspiration for something that would be similar, but suit our way of doing things a little better.
Well - VOILA!! After a over year, it seems Mark has come up with the solution for us! (Pictures will be included when this entry is put up on the web).
The dog's dish is not attached to the ring holder, so I can take them out for cleaning every now and again and in the summer the ring slips out of it's holder, leaving just a flat bracket on the dog house, so we can go back to our normal summer routine.
Surge demonstrates the new feeding bowl.
We tested the concept out on our 'A.D.D.' dog - Barq. We figure if he didn't find a way to tangle himself up on the holder, didn't remove the dish from the ring and couldn't pee in the bowl - it would work for the rest of the 'A' team. Sure enough, the holder has passed the 'Barq Test' and now all of them have their bowls mounted on the sides of their houses. I'm not quite to the point of morning waterings (although I imagine we will be within 10 days to 2 weeks), but I have been feeding the main string using this system for the past 2 nights and it is working great.
The routine hasn't changed for the retirees, yearlings, puppies, etc - they still have their bowls collected after feeding and get their extra visiting time, but not picking up the bowls is saving us about 20 minutes with the Main String (and they get extra attention when running anyway, so they aren't losing out there either!)
Over the winter, with 3 feedings could save us up to an hour a day. And in my world - that is a big deal.