I thought outdoor dogs were a thing of the past, including my past. Growing up under the guidance of my parents, my dad wouldn’t allow our outdoor dogs inside the house. We always seemed to have two outdoor dogs, usually labs, and one indoor dog, usually a Maltipoo or Havenese.
My dad grew up in an era when it was common for dogs to live outside; they were not family members, only dogs. Their place was to be outside, to endure all weather elements like winter snowstorms, thunder and lightning, as well as the heat in the summer.
Today, in my neighbourhood, I’m hearing more outdoor dogs barking, whimpering and whining. It breaks my heart to hear these sounds of distress and loneliness. Does anyone check on them when they are barking to see what they’re barking at and reassure them when everything is OK? When they’re whimpering in distress, does anyone check on them to see if they’re caught up on something or frightened by the loud noises of the thunder or fireworks?
I lived my childhood years witnessing these things with my own dogs. As a child, I couldn’t do much about it, except spend as much time as I could with them outside.
When I became an adult, I learned that dogs are social animals and they want to be close to their pack members. They want to be loved and be included in their owner’s world.
I understand that people work long hours and they may have their dogs outside during that time. When it becomes day after day and night after night, what do these dogs look forward to? Seeing their owner a couple times a day at meal times; hearing their owner yell at them from the window to shut up; and enduring many hours of isolation are just a few examples of what their day can consist of.
I have a huge heart for dogs. I’ve worked many years in the pet service industry. I’ve owned my own pet-sitting business, I’ve worked at a dog kennel and most recently I’ve worked at a seniors’ animal sanctuary here in Mission. I’ve seen everything from spoiled pampered pets to neglected and abandoned dogs. This includes outdoor dogs who have been seized from their owner because of neglect and have had to be rehabilitated due to psychological damage. In one instance, a dog who was rescued from “outdoor” living feared going outside just in case he would never be able to return indoors again.
If having your “outside” dog living inside full time is not possible, then please consider an alternative when there are fireworks, thunderstorms and very cold weather conditions. Maybe they could sleep on some nice warm blankets in the basement or garage during extreme conditions like these.
Please keep in mind these precautions with the winter approaching: check your dog’s water every morning and break any ice that has formed overnight so they can drink during the day. Provide lots of dry and warm bedding in their insulated, well-sheltered house. Check on your dog several times a day to make sure they’re safe and haven’t hurt themselves while you were at work or inside the house.