Down South Westies
...Home of beautiful, loving, West Highland White Terriers!

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  New Potty Approach!

What do you do when it is pouring down rain and your sweet Westie needs to potty? Get the umbrella and begin the chore! I always have problems managing the umbrella and leash all at the same time, especially being sure my sweet Westie doesn’t get wet. Between the two of us, I always got the "wet" end of the deal. Drying paws is one thing, but a soaking wet Westie is no fun.  After a bright idea, and about $12,000, I came up with a solution.  

We have an outside entrance to the lower level on one end of our home. I had a carpenter build a nice 16 X 20 porch over the entrance. Half of the floor is concrete and the other half I covered with 3 inches of large gravel. During the rain, we take our Westies to the gravel area to potty. No umbrella is needed because it is under cover. But even if it were not covered, the rocks prevent your legs from getting wet and dirty from the grass and dirt.

How do we keep the gravel clean? We catch their poop in a poop scooper and it doesn't even touch the gravel. You have to be experienced to do that! Every few weeks we use Trail Instant Odor Control. It instantly neutralizes urine and feces odor. 

You can be as creative as you like. You can use decorative rock for the border to dress things up or use just plain gravel rock. As you walk out the door from our house, we have a brick retainer wall on one side, a privacy fence facing the street on the other side, and a chain link fence separating the two areas.

Another idea is to install a  Doggie Door. When we have to leave for church or an errand, we leave our dogs downstairs. They have full run of their area (1,200 square feet) which includes three rooms. One room is a play room with Toddler beds where they can nap and look out the window to keep up with the neighbor and squirrels. The second room is a large room with a love seat and couch so they can watch TV. The third room is their grooming area where they can play with their toys, lounge around, or spend their time watching a second TV in that room as well.

In adding a Doggie Door, our only hesitation has been because they are Westies! I want to be sure I have that outside area secure and “Westie proof”. Westies are diggers and as long as we are with them, they do not try to dig under the fences. However, left unattended, they may really concentrate on how they can dig out. There are ways to prevent this. One way is to place wire fencing on the ground, bend the edges to let it run up the privacy fence about 3 inches, and fasten that wire to the bottom of the privacy fence on all sides with staples. Then, place the gravel on top of the wire on the ground and this will prevent being able to dig out. With the gravel, the wire will not be visible.

Beyond this small fenced gravel area (rainy day potty area that is 16 x 20 feet), we have a larger area fenced that they use when it is not raining. Here is where they play and get daily exercise. Because our dogs enjoy digging and rolling in the grass, as most Westies do, we originally used pine straw. Pine straw will dry out quickly after a rain, and it keeps doggie feet from getting dirty in the mud. The down side is that because pine needles decompose quickly, they lose their color and volume over a period of months. As a result, we had to replenish (top-dress) several times each year. In addition to the top-dressing, old pine straw has to be raked out often and removed. If it is allowed to get very thick, the deteriorating pine straw has a tendency to attract mold and mildew and needs to be removed. We ordered about 100 - 150 bales of pine straw each time we had it delivered and it was just a big chore to keep it nice and clean because most commercial pine straw is trashy with lots of pine cones, sticks, leaves, and vines.

In the spring of 2006, we discovered synthetic pine straw. The synthetic product we use is Textraw Synthetic Pine Straw. It looks like pine straw from a distance, has a crunching sound when you walk on it, but it is a great product for this purpose. It retains its color for years without fading, it’s cleaner than pine straw and has no weeds, sticks, etc. and is resistant to insects, mold, and mildew. The down side is that it is very expensive. Two bales of Textraw equal about 3-4 bales of natural pine straw. Natural pine straw costs about $3.50 per bale delivered while Textraw costs almost $47 per bale plus tax and travel. We think it is well worth the extra cost. It is expensive, but it will last a long time and maintenance is low.

When the leaves begin to fall, we just use our electric blower/super vac to pick up the leaves. It does a great job.

For us, Textraw Synthetic Pine Straw is hard to find. We live in the Metro Atlanta area and the closest source is a 2-hour drive round trip.

The use of Textraw Synthetic Pine Straw has been a great product.

We are now using a water filtration system exclusively for our dogs.  The water will be better for them and we will see what it does to their beards.  Stay tuned!  (The result is that it works significantly.  Beard stains can be caused by wet food, but if it is caused by your public water, the Aquasana Home Water System works and does not stain beards).

We chose the Aquasana Home Water System.  We have it connected to the sink in the grooming room.