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Its A Dogs Life

Hands like these need a home away from home on a drilling rig; a place to keep their cell phones, Copenhagen, dry socks and sunflower seeds. Dog houses are a place to get out of the cold, to eat beanie weenies and bullshit with each other between connections. Usually a hand does not get to lolly gag too long in any one spot, unless its the morning tower, but if they do they're generally always in the dog house.

You'll find all kinds of cool shit in a dog house, like rubber boots, torn up Dear John letters, microwave ovens, little tiny refrigerators with yellow Gator Aid and boudin that's gone to the other side, bundles of new poka dot gloves hidden in secret places, seals, rubber packing, gaskets, O-rings, the right nut for every bolt, underwear rags, duct tape, tie wire, snap ties and all the basic tools for fixing stuff.

Dog houses are where vast quantities of grease is stored to keep shit from squealing and getting an ass eatin' from tool pushers. There will

always be torn copies of Penthouse magazines laying around and occasionally a deck of playing cards. Rarely do you see chess boards in a drilling rig dog house or self improvement

books on how to be a more sensitive, caring husband. They'll generally always be a radio going that seems glued to Clint Black and Red Raider football. The typical coffee pot in a dog house will generate 23 gravity fluid strong enough to eat the liners out of a mud pump.

Dog houses even in the old days had the same safety first bullshit plastered everywhere you see in dog houses these days...

Some dog houses are first class dwellings and immaculately clean, like staying in the Hilton downtown...

Other dog houses actually are just one step above an actual dog house, worse than a Motel 5, and are never clean...

...until the tool pusher eats your ass out and makes you clean it up. Generally this happens before company is coming, like snooty open-hole wire line hands in blue coveralls or some jefe from the head office who wants a photo op.

Years ago a big drilling contractor working for a big shale oil company in S. Texas had a derrick hand slip on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the dog house floor and break his arm. Henceforth all dog houses in the rig fleet were re-modeled with non-slip surfaces and signs were placed everywhere saying to eat only in designated places, safety first.

You can sometimes sit down in a rig dog house and get shit figured out, like why your drill pipe tally is off, or why you missed your core point, or what to add to your mud system to make it way more expensive than it should be. In fact, just about all dog houses have what is called a "knowledge box" in them where erasers, pencils, tally books and supply tickets are kept. There'll always be at least four Dollar General calculators in that box, broken, or with no batteries. The lids on those damn things are often made out of 1/2 inch plate and heavier than hell; last year I was engaged in deep conversation with a cement supervisor in a dog house when a worm dropped the lid on a knowledge box on my little finger and broke it. I ate six Advil, made a splint out of two plastic knives and duct tape and ran the rest of my float equipment. The same worm who broke my finger offered to set it, upon which I told him to get the hell out of my LZ and to avoid me the rest of the day at ALL costs.

When the BBQ arrives on location dog houses can get plum packed with rig hands, casing crew members and bulk cement truck drivers, all vying for their share of meat before its gone, like wolves over a fresh kill. In the summer dog houses can be so damn hot nobody wants to go in one, and in the winter, with heaters, a dog house will often feel like your a pizza walking into an toaster oven.

I worked on a rig when I was kid where we kept the empty bit box at the head of the stairs, by the dog house door; the tool pusher would wake up in the middle of the night in a pissy mood, walk up on the floor in his house slippers and kick the box down the stairs, then holler at someone to go pick it up. We put an old bit in it one night and up the stairs he comes mumbling something about ROP, kicks the bit box and breaks two toes. We wire brushed that whole rig, twice, before we finally TD'd that well; man that dude was pissed.

Some drilling rigs have two dog houses. I have no idea what THATS all about unless one side is strictly for worms. You know, kind of like a segregated neighborhood.

48 years ago, on a barge in Louisiana in July and August, the only way you could stand the bugs were to have Category 3 fans on the floor. There was a wormy hand on that crew that NEVER stopped talking; his mouth was always flappin.' One night the breakers went out on all the fans and this dude kept yapping thru a bit trip and finally got so many damn bugs in his mouth he started choking. No shit. He fell on the floor and couldn't breathe. The tool pusher came out of the dog house and put the Hymlich thing on him and this kid coughed up a wad of bugs you would NOT believe. We laughed so hard it plum hurt. The pusher says to this kid, "that ought to teach you to keep your fucking mouth closed you stupid sumbitch. Get back to work!"

Dog houses in the world's oilfields have always been community centers for roughnecks needing to bitch, whine and complain about stuff. Its a time honored tradition, of sorts.

Over the years, before the great HSE virus of the late 1990's, there have been lots of real dogs allowed on locations and in dog houses. Rig dogs, pusher's dogs, hand's dogs...

Here's a driller's dog relieving his owner in the middle of a bit trip, probably off somewhere relieving himself.

Sometimes entire drilling companies are named after dogs and go on to participate in making really stupid TV reality shows.

Dogs are always welcome on my locations as long as they stay out of the mud pits and don't shit on the front porch of my trailer. They're way better to have around a rig than stinking camels.

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