Image Most of us here on Dave's Garden are not only plant addicts, but also pet lovers. I am amazed at how much many of you are doing for your pets and I would love to see the same attitude in my country. Unfortunately, we have a low standard of living here and many people are struggling to survive day by day. The good news is that more of us have now pets in our homes; moreover, we are also taking care of the stray dogs living on our streets.

Many years ago, our communist leaders decided to tear down many old houses and build new tall buildings, so more people could have decent housing. Some people failed to take their pets to their new homes, thinking they didn't belong in a nice clean apartment, so they left them on the streets.

No one bothered Imageto gather up the animals and build a shelter for them until it was too late and they became overpopulated. ImageOf course, not all the people were so careless as to leave their pets behind and in the last 20 years, several shelters for strays were built. But this is not enough and the danger of people getting bitten by strays still exists. Some of us, after seeing all this mess, became very sympathetic to the stray dogs' conditions and we started to take care of those dogs living near our home. Sometimes we'd get help from the animal care organizations, but this was far from being enough for the stray's needs.

This is when we started to take control and do things on our own. We split the city in zones of dog care influence. We even had to bribe the dog catchers to let our dogs alone Imagewhen they were sent to catch them from the street. And why catch them and take them to a shelter where they would be crowded and where they would eventually be euthanised? Were those poor dogs to blame for being out there on the streets on their own? We have continued to take care of them, feeding them and building dog houses. They were happy, healthy, vaccinated, and very rarely did they bite at anyone. We collected money and started to neuter, especially the females. The City Halls have programs for neutering the dogs, but they are slow and the funds get used quickly. I had a bad experience with the Mayor regarding the dogs on my street, so I decided to take care of them myself.

Image The workers who built my house brought a few dogs to protect them during the construction, but they left the dogs behind after they finished the house. One of the females gave birth to six pups just after we moved in. A new and exciting experience for me! Momma dog had found a very good place for giving birth, inside our neighbor's house, under the stairs. ImageThat house was still under construction and no one was living there at that time.

It was summer, so they were all safe where they were, still I arranged a shelter for them with old blankets and a few wood boards. When fall came, I built a dog shelter for them, with the leftover wood boards I had from our construction. It wasn't nice, but it was big enough for all the puppies and the adult dogs. I took one of the dogs into my yard and a worker helped me build a dog house for him too. Since the pups were so small, the others used to come inside the yard through the fence - to my husband's despair - and were all cuddling inside the new dog house with their brother. Later, I found new homes for some of the pups and only two of them remained Imagehere with me.

Last year my husband helped me build a big dog house, thinking that they would all stay inside it, but he couldn't have been more wrong! Momma dog and Gavrila, the male were staying in there together, but they didn't allow any other dogs inside. Since the pups were grown, I thought it'd be better to Imagebuild a dog house for each of them . I didn't have any wood boards left, but my neighbor had some and allowed me to choose as many as I needed. I also didn't have too many tools, just nails, a hammer and a saw.

This is the pattern I followed: a rectangle on which I nailed the floor, then wood poles on each corner, same sized wood boards nailed on them, on all sides. For the front panel, I found an already cut-up board, with a round opening as an entrance. I had to add more wood boards on the lower part to cover the holes on each side. For the roof I chose larger wood boards and nailed them to the side walls and to each other. Then I covered the front and back of the roof with smaller boards, sized as to fit in there.

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I covered all the dog houses with plastic and nailed a tin sheet over the roof. I knew the wind was blowing from the northeast during winter, so I placed the dog houses back sides facing that direction. I put a few cardboard carton pieces on the floor and straw rugs over them. I stuck polystirene sheets on the inside walls as insulation, but they didn't last long in there because the dogs thought that was interesting and fun to tear appart during the long storms!

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I was happy I could make these dog houses for my dog, although they aren't really well constructed. Last winter was very hard, with many snowstorms, but they were staying inside, protected from the snow and freezing weather. A few times I've found them almost buried alive with snow inside their dog houses, and I had to shovel them out.

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I'm happy because they are happy, they have a shelter from bad weather and they are also loved, as well as fed. I hope you can make a dog house for your pet, perhaps with better materials and more tools. They all deserve our care and attention, for giving us so much and asking for so less. Their unconditional love can be a lesson for us all!