Rarely does my alarm wake me up. I am almost always awake before it starts screaming at me at 5:30.
Sometimes as I lie in bed coming to consciousness I can hear coyotes howling. If they are too close, the sound is usually followed by the bang of the porch door and the thunderous threats of Cricket.
Rarely do the Siberians answer. They know that they are all safe and secure. What goes on in the woods rarely affects them and they know that.
Bet pads out of the bedroom behind me and settles in on the Cloud as I flip the coffee maker on to warm up. By now Bait's white tuxedo front will be visible in the dark outside the sliding doors. He must sleep somewhere in the garage near a window, as he always appears at the door within minutes of my switching on the first light in the house.
I'll organize breakfast and settle on the couch with coffee and my computer. Bet knows there is always a bit of breakfast for her, so she hops up on the couch to share and watch the Today Show with me (we watch a Detroit feed, as local stations aren't 'awake' yet so I always know what is going on in Michigan).
Shortly before 6 Bet will tell me when Freya walks by the front window on her way to put Wonder back in her run (Wonder sleeps in the cabin with her) - it's still too dark for me to tell. After, Freya heads directly to the garage to fill the 5 buckets of soup it takes to feed the 50 dogs.
A few minutes later Tic will appear at the door, having been woken up by Freya's entrance into the garage. If I'm not fast enough letting him in he will squeak and climb the screen on the window next to the door. He may be the smallest resident of the kennel, but he REFUSES to be ignored.
Buckets filled, Freya stumbles into the house for a quick bit of breakfast.
She heads out a bit before me and starts shuffling food to the 'feeding table'. I prepare Rocky's breakfast and then layer on clothing - minus 17C this morning - so sweats, sweatshirt, insulated Carhartts, neckwarmer, hat, gloves and boots.
Bet sits eagerly next to me. She loves the excitement and energy of feeding time.
The yard lights are glowing and everyone excited by the time I get out there. Some, like Crunchie, just pace and whine; others, like Jack, SCREAM in anticipation of food! It is the noisiest time of day in the dog yard.
First meal goes to Crunchie - ALWAYS!
I scoop out meals for the 'B' team boys and head down with their breakfast.
Back up at the table I'll top off a bucket and get ready to start feeding the Main String.
Cricket has usually shown up by this time and swats me in the butt with one of her massive paws if I haven't got kibble into her bowl yet. Yes Ma'am!
The main string dances as I walk around with the bucket of kibble. Each meal is specific to each dog based on their body condition and the work they have been doing the last few days. This is MY job and pretty much never turn it over to anyone else.
Freya is a bit behind, scooping out soup to everyone.
Some, like Boo, prefer to have their kibble and soup together, so patiently wait for soup before dining - or it just could be she takes a while to wake up. Boo is not a 'morning dog' and usually doesn't crawl out of her straw until I'm a dog or so away from her anyway.
When the main string is all happy, I dish out meals for the 'B' string girls, grab a soup bucket and head up to them. After feeding them, I soup them and a few of the main string ladies that Freya won't have gotten to yet.
By now the volume of noise in the yard has greatly diminished, as everyone has been given their kibble and most their soup.
Geriatric Park now starts to fuss, as they know I'm headed in their direction. I measure out soup and kibble for them and leaving Freya to finish up in the main yard, walk out of the range of yard lights and over to the 'Gs'.
Even though the yard lights don't quite touch all corners of the yard, I know the place better than anywhere else, so I am comfortable walking around out there with no headlamp.
It's always comforting to see all off the old dogs lined up along the fence line barking. You just never know with the seniors!
Acting not even close to their ages they bounce and bang off of my back and stomach when I enter their pen. I'm not fond of that, but it doesn't seem worth getting after them for! They have all earned the right to be bratty!
Geriatric Park is located at the top of a high spot in our yard. It offers a wonderful sky view and I almost always take a moment to stop and check it out. Sometimes the Northern Lights are visible dancing away, lights off a single passenger plane as it makes its early flight to Ft. McMurray, the ISS (International Space Station), or the faint glow indicating morning off to the east. Always something to see!
By now the yard is pretty much silent except for the odd clinking of metal bowls as Freya picks up the 'B' team dishes.
Snow crunches and squeaks under my feet as I head back to the house with Bet dancing in front of me.
We've a few hours of down time now while the dogs digest their meal before we run.
Coffee is calling again!