GRRR... outdoor dog in cold weather (5°F with -11° windchill)
There is a local towing business that I drive past 3-5x/day. They have a small chain link pen in the front of their facility, maybe 5’x10’, topped with barbed wire. In that pen lives a big black dog (maybe a lab/golden mix or a newfie mix?). He’s out there 24/7. No stimulation, no toys, nothing except a ramshackle homemade doghouse. I’ve never seen anyone interact with him.
I feel badly for the dog when it's hot out. I feel badly for him when it's raining and when it’s snowing. Honestly, I feel bad when he's sitting there on a beautiful day, just because it must be hell spending his entire life locked up like that. But today... today the windchill was -11°F when I passed him at 6:50 am on my way to work, and he was curled up in a ball on top of his doghouse. Which suggests to me that it was not any warmer IN his house than ON it.
This was too much. I called the local police, who referred me to Animal Control. The Animal Control officer I spoke with told me that they get calls about the dog "constantly" in the winter, but there's nothing that can be done because he has a doghouse. He told me that it makes him mad as well, but that he can’t force the owners to bring the dog inside.
I know there's nothing that can be done. I guess I’m just ranting. People disgust me sometimes. The temperature isn’t expected to reach double digits today. The windchill is expected to stay in the negative double digits. That poor, poor animal. Why do people get dogs they intend to lock up 24/7 without any stimulation? What kind of monster can leave a dog out in this sort of horrifyingly cold weather without experiencing crippling guilt?!
I know it sucks. But it may be quite possible that he's not as cold as you think.
I kid you not, our poodle liked to go outside and lie in the snow even on very very very cold days. We had a doggy door so he had every opportunity to be inside vs out. But most nights, we'd get home from work and there he was...very happily.
I'm not condoning it. At least our dogs had a choice. But maybe he is okay. Maybe.
I sure hope so.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
I am sure there are many people who have outside dogs that survive just fine in the cold and unless you are parked outside this business all day and night you have no idea what kind of interaction this dog has with the people who own him. Driving by a few times a day doesn't really tell you much except for what is happening when you drive by.
Dogs are resilient creatures but I too hate seeing one that doesn't get the option of coming inside during inclement weather. Some really are oblivious to the weather but that kind of weather sounds downright nasty.
today the windchill was -11°F when I passed him at 6:50 am on my way to work, and he was curled up in a ball on top of his doghouse. Which suggests to me that it was not any warmer IN his house than ON it.
suggests to me he wasn't cold enough to go into his doghouse. My own dogs have freely chosen to go outside and sleep in incredibly cold conditions, and the colder it gets the happier they seem.
I would worry more about the summer- dogs are very heat-intolerant. And even more about the hell of living in a tiny boring prison all the time with no company and nothing to do.
If you're really concerned, have you considered asking the owners if you can have him? if they just keep him out in a kennel all the time they probably would be quite willing to part with him.
You might see if you have a local chapter of dogsdeservebetter - they are willing to contact the owners and work with them to get the dog inside, or provide a longer cable run and a better house. I've had good luck with them before.
~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
~Vet Tech Student
Mom to : 1 Horse, 4 Dogs, 3 Cats, 6 (Former) Stepkids
There are several groups in my area that work on outreach for these types of situations. They try to work with people, but obviously there are cases that must be reported to animal control. In the winter they provide dog houses (if the current one isn't sufficient), cables rather than chains, straw for the house, etc. In the summer they provide fly control and tarps for shade. Year-round they help people set up water that the dog can't tip over, dog food if needed, and treats and chews to help as much as possible with the boredom. They do also encourage people to purchase crates so that the dogs can go indoors, ideally.
Most dogs do seem most uncomfortable on the hottest days of summer, and heatstroke isn't uncommon. Cold can be a killer, too, though, especially because a lot of these dogs that are either stray or chained all of the time do not have fat reserves or a healthy coat and illness/disease on top of everything else.
We forget how many animals in this country really have very sad lives. If you live in an area big enough to have larger private shelters, you might give them a call and see if they do any outreach.
Some dogs just like people run hot or cold. One of my dogs a pom *insists* will follow you around carrying her jacket until you put it on her at about 55 degrees our husky however will sneak(jump 4ft fences and open doors) around trying to find a way to go out side the colder the better to sleep in the rain she loves it. Some dogs are just weirdoes about what they like.
That said 5 is awfully cold and I don't know that even if my husky wanted to sleep out that *I* could emotionally let her
I know lots of husky/mal/etc dogs that love, love, love the bitter cold and snow. If he's a Newfie mix, he may not mind the cold like these dogs as well. But I can understand you worry and frustration (I always think about stray cats when it gets freezing temps with windchill)...
I let my Great Pyrenees in the house every day to hang out with us and be a family dog for a little while as a break from his job but within minutes he's begging and panting to be let out again. Our back door has a 2 inch gap (old farmhouse) and he is the self-appointed draft stopper because he just gets too hot in here. My old 13 year old fuzzy dog loves to sleep on the porch in the snow-I have to make her come in at night. I wouldn't rush to judge that the dog is that unhappy.
When my family lived in Minnesota, I had an Afghan hound that never wanted to come in unless it was below -10. He loved it outside, and if brought in would stand at the door until you let him back out. It was only when he got older (about7-8) that he decided he'd rather be an inside dog. I would've loved to have him sleep with me, but he just didn't want that.
Still, I hate to see any dog confined to a small pen with no interaction.
We had a golden retriever who would sleep outside and be buried in snow and be perfectly happy. She had a huge bed of hay to sleep on in the barn ( our other dog always used it) but loved the cold. I don't like them out either and our 2 dogs here are more than ready to come in after chores are done.