Tom and I are not the only residents of the Mustard Yellow House. With us are our two little dogs, Connor and Phoebe. Life for them, in the past 10 months, has been continual change.
Phoebe and Connor have claimed our new couch as their favourite place.
But you’d hardly know it. The happiest surprise of this whole tiny-house enterprise has been how well Connor and Phoebe have taken it in their tiny stride.
There was the stream of tradespeople as we got our old house up to scratch so we could sell it. The strange sight of Daddy Nick filling and emptying boxes; the strange sweaty smell of Daddy Tom after yet another evening spent clearing the garden; the strange scary sound of Daddy Nick saying terrible words after yet another tradie failed to turn up at the appointed time.
There were the house moves, the frantic cleanings, the weekends spent at Dinky Dogz, the parade of rental cottages and their weird smells.
At one of the rentals we stayed in, there was no dog door. This puzzled Connor.
There was, surely, the sense of stress and tiredness in Daddy Nick and Daddy Tom despite their daddies’ efforts not to communicate their worries to the dogs.
But the dogs came through it all like champions. At every point, Tom and I genuinely tried to make things less worrying for the dogs: resting them at Dinky Dogz at the most turbulent times, choosing fenced and dog-friendly places to stay, placing familiar blankets and toys around, walking them often and making our laps available.
The sun pours in during the morning. Connor follows it.
Dogs are incredibly adaptable. They rarely mope, and self-pity is nonexistent for them. Optimism is their natural state: change their circumstances, and they’ll just try to live the best life possible in those circumstances. We humans should learn from that.
So now they live in a tiny house on a farm paddock. What is their life like?
They sleep at night in their plastic travel crates, as they’ve always done. Tom and I are meanwhile in the loft bedroom, a place reassuringly close but utterly inaccessible to dachshunds.
Having licked the breakfast plates, Connor tells me that he wants a cuddle.
In the morning they burst out of their crates and greet us with leaps and licks. A dog-flap in the “back” door lets them come and go between the house and a little fenced backyard where they can poo, bark or sunbathe.
Another fenced zone is on the front of the house, which they can get to when the french doors are open.
These zones mean Tom and I can be sure the dogs don’t wander off and get into mischief but still have lots to look at. We take Connor and Phoebe for walks around the property’s tracks and hillocks where they can sniff rabbit holes, bark at peacocks or distant horses, have tense encounters with wandering piglets — and of course get wonderfully wet and dirty.
Phoebe gazes at Paddock World.
Connor is familiar enough with the place now that he can run off leash with us, but Phoebe needs more vigilance. She’s liable to hare off in pursuit of a smell (or a piglet), though she does eventually obey our calls to “leave it!”
But I think they’re adjusting to the new space and scents of this place and will thrive in it.
Phoebe gazes at Backyard World. Sometimes there are pigs, or horses, or peacocks.
After dark the dogs sleep on a daddy-lap or in front of the fire, and life is how it’s always been for them.
The kind of house doesn’t matter. The amount of room doesn’t matter. Home is wherever we are, all together.
Phoebe wriggles next to the front steps.