Each room has its own assigned territories.
In the bathroom, Buddy has lain claim to what I think has to be the primo spot on the plush mat that lies in front of the bathtub.
Scrap curls up the foot of the decorative metal shelf that holds the towels, and Rusty if he is able to overcome his phobias, crowds Scrap for a spot in the corner furthest away from the dreaded hairdryer.
There is a certain grace and intelligence inherent in most shelties. When they run, it is with the elegant strut of the finest racehorse.
Shelties are furry beasts who hate the heat of summer. Brushing the three of them easily produces a fourth dog (no joking)!
Come the fall however, they want nothing more than to be outdoors.
At fourteen Buddy is beginning to show his age in the downy grey fur slowly spreading across his black muzzle.
When it comes to playing fetch, Buddy makes only a half-hearted attempt to run any distance these days, preferring to stand and bark excitedly as the two younger dogs scramble for the ball.
The strangest manifestations of Buddy's old age seems to be an odd form of separation anxiety.
When Buddy thinks I am going somewhere he's not invited, he trudges dejectedly into the kitchen and pulls a dishtowel from the drying rack near the stove. Then, he follows me around as I prepare to leave, clutching the dishtowel in his mouth, rather like the cartoon character of Linus and his security blanket.
He must keep his dishtowel-come-security-blanket close the whole time I am gone, because he always greets me at the door with it in his mouth. (I have long since given up hanging dishtowels on this particular towel rack. Now there are only a couple of doggie "security blankets".)
Sometimes he will even go out in the yard and play all by himself. But never quietly. Yip yap! Kick the ball. Yip Yap! Nudge the ball.
Our new neighbours seem to often work from home and I dread what they must think. I worry that one of these days their back window will slide discreetly open and a shotgun barrel will slowly poke forward.
It not that I would entirely blame them. I love him to bits and there are times I want to kill him! (When it gets to be just too much barking and sanity needs to prevail, unfortunately I have to get mean and take the ball away for a little while.)
As many of you may remember, Rusty is our little dog that no one wanted. Based on the level of his socialization when he came to us, I am firmly convinced that he spent much of his first year neglected and confined to a cage.
Always a bit uncertain, he has staked out a favourite spot on the upstairs landing where he has a clear vantage on the world from the safety of high ground.
He's cute, but don't let this handsome face fool you. Rusty has a mischievous side. Just the other day I set down a few bags of groceries onto the kitchen floor while I put the perishables away in the fridge.
No sooner had a turned my back when this little thief fished out a loaf of bread from one of the grocery bags. By the time I looked up from what I was doing, he had already torn open the plastic bag and was helping himself to a slice of whole wheat bread.
"Rusty!", I roared in outrage. The little coward dropped his loot ran down the hall. There he sat headed bowed, quaking like a leaf on the front door mat, all the while doing his best to look the picture of innocence.
But he's so loveable. How could I not forgive him!
Yes, there are times when I question the sanity of having three dogs. And there are moments I tire of always having three constant shadows, but they are outweighed by the times I am grateful that I have three sentinels who watch over me.
On Monday I found myself home alone curled up under a pile of blankets with a terrible stomach flu. Pure misery!
I wasn't really alone though. Three dogs lay at the foot of my bed waiting ever so patiently for me to feel better, always hopeful that I might get up, get dressed and head out into the garden.