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All In The Family

We came across the svelte and sophisticated Soesanti Oeij while surfing the internet one day for our daily fun diet, which almost always means rib-tickling dog videos. We saw this young and petite woman trying to feed not one, but seven Alaskan Malamutes and getting overpowered by the furry giants in the process. It was scary and funny at the same time. No wonder the video featuring the textile tycoon from Bandung, capital of West Java province in Indonesia, who also dabbles in villa rentals, amassed nearly 60,000 views online in no time. Oeij says, “It’s always a struggle giving them snacks or food at the same time. They always show the same level of energy every time I feed them. A lot of time they jump up and can push me real hard.” In the video you can see the bunch of excited dogs jumping around their feeder as if she’s one of the pack. Although it seems like quite a struggle for Oeij to keep up with them, it’s clear they don’t mean any harm to her. She says most people love to watch her feed the pack of, hold your breath, 13 Malamutes, and they get shocked by the scene as well! It’s no different when she takes them out for a walk with the giant puppers literally blocking the entire width of the street. “People are really amazed to see so many huge dogs together. When I walk them, I have to make sure the area is safe enough for everyone and there are no dogs or stray cats around,” she says, adding, “Nowadays because of Covid-19, many people come walking near our area, so it’s pretty hard to take them for a walk myself. I can only do it after work and I know many people come walking with their dogs too in the afternoon. It’s not safe enough. So I ask my caretakers to walk them at 5.30am everyday.”

Talking about her youtube video where she can be seen taking seven-eight of them together for a walk, Oeij says her caretakers help her in clearing the area first. “Only when it is safe, then I walk them out. They usually pull during the first 10 minutes of the walk, afterwards they are fine and relaxed walking with me,” she explains. Ask her how she manages the high-energy dogs on a daily basis, particularly all 13 of them in one house, and she says, “I keep them in three separate houses and I’ve also hired four dog caretakers to help me take care of them as I’m very busy during weekdays. But I still feed them myself. I spend a lot of time with them as well, especially on the weekend.” Oeij says all her houses are pretty spacious, so there’s never a crunch for more room. “One house is about 5,000 sqm, while another one is 1,700 sqm. The third is about 1,000 sqm and all of them have big garden areas as we stay in a hilly area,” she informs. “The weather is pleasant throughout the year between 18-28 degrees, so the dogs also feel comfortable and adjust well,” she adds. Oeij says as a kid, she always wanted a dog of her own but never planned to have so many. “I just had the first one named Puffy. That’s why I named my Instagram account as puffywolfpack. It was actually my daughter who insisted on getting a Malamute. So we got Puffy from a petshop downtown, Then I got another one and another until they were six in all. Then I started breeding, so finally I have 13 altogether. We used to have 14, but unfortunately one died due to blood parasites a year ago,” she says. But why only Alaskan Malamutes? “I really love their fluffy hair and cute faces and their characters as well. They are really friendly to people,” she informs, adding, she grew up in a multi-dog household full of different breeds, like collies, mini pinscher, and toy poodle. Since Mals are pack animals, Oeij says Hugo is the leader at one house, while Puffy is the leader at another house. Talking about their food, she says Malamutes should do well on high-quality dog food. “I feed them a mix of both dog food and home prepared food such as rice, meat, chicken, vegetables, eggs etc. I also give them milk, some snacks, vegetables such as carrot and long beans,” she says. But is there any time they leave her alone to do her own thing? “Yes, they stay in the garden, while I stay inside the house. Sometimes, I do let them play inside, but for just a while because their fur is flying everywhere,” she chuckles. Oeij says there are conflicts of interest among the packs and all isn’t well in the Peaceable Paws kingdom. “It’s mainly among the males. Like Hugo always growls at Goyard and Alfa, and Puffy can’t get along with any other male at all. That’s a big headache for me. So I’m forced to keep Truffle in the front garden, while Puffy is sent at the back, which he doesn’t like and feels left out and jealous and starts growling at everyone at home. So I talk to him, hug him, kiss him, play with him, spend time with him, and he is fine again,” she says. “He is very softhearted and needs more attention than the other dogs. Basically, I can say I give more attention to some who have behavioral challenges.” They also need to keep an eye on every male while they are playing in the garden. “I can say there’s a lot of drama among them actually. When a female is in heat, the drama only gets worse. Thank God, all the three houses are located in the same area, so I can arrange and rearrange their stay during such times,” she says. Oeij is happy that no dog has ever mutineed. “No, they are all fine. Except that the males have a bad habit to pee wherever they like. It’s annoying. I get angry with them. They seem to understand, they are afraid when I’m angry. But they repeat again,” she laughs. 

Any tips on running a multi-dog household harmoniously? “Basically, they are just like humans…they want you to hug, kiss, talk to them, spend time with them. You also need to understand their characters, each of them. So you will learn how to handle them,” she says. “I always make sure that every one of them is happy. That’s why I let them play in the garden from morning until 7. I keep them at the kennel for about 15 minutes during mealtime only. Then in the evening during bedtime. So the whole day they meet people, play and run around. They are happy.”