My family is a bunch of animal lovers and lovers of dogs, in particular.
Most of our children have a dog and when family events are held at our home, the dogs come along, too.
We have had a couple of group family photos taken and we told our children the dogs needed to be here to be part of the family picture.
These are all indoor dogs that have the run of the house and sleep inside, too.
Well, except for one person who will not let his own dog inside the house – me.
There have been a few discussions about why our dog is not let inside. He is a very good dog and understands that he needs to go outside to take care of his needs.
My standard response after asking why I won’t let my dog in the house is, “Livestock belongs outside.”
Of course, that results in some indignation from a bunch of dog lovers.
How can I call one of my most loyal friends (and he is) livestock?
A lot of that has to do with growing up with livestock. They are animals, not pets.
They have a purpose and while they are here, we will take good care of them.
The other part is that letting a dog in the house will result in us living in his house.
For a few years we let our dog sleep inside during those below-zero winter nights.
He liked the comfort and we thought it was the right thing to do.
At first he was in the laundry room with the sliding door closed.
Then he figured out how to slide the door open and sleep on the carpet in the living room.
Another problem was when, around 3 a.m. he needed to go outside and would scratch on the front door to let us know he needed to get outside.
Fifteen minutes, he is scratching to get back in. That lasted about two days.
There is no mistaking he is a good dog and I really like him – just not enough to elevate him to roommate status.
Besides, he is a greasy dog and leaves an oil stain on the carpet where his favorite spot is located.
Am I a bad person for keeping a good dog and loyal companion outside even on below zero nights? I think not.
His outdoor living quarters is an igloo made of plastic, a efficient design that keeps the heat lower where it does the most good.
A year or more ago, I bought an electric heater designed for pets and put it in his igloo.
During the winter he has a heated water bowl.
Are those the actions of someone who is insensitive to a faithful friend? Again, I think not.
There is no mistaking he thinks I am the most important person in his life and shows that by following me where ever I go, and no one else.
He is also over 15 years old and hobbles along when he walks, but still will not let me out of his sight.
He deserves preferential treatment.
So, this fall to help him through the winter, I moved his igloo, heating pad, and new heated water bowl into the garage and kept everything close to the house side where there was some additional heat.
I close the door at night to keep the heat in so he is free from drafts and some of the cold.
He still needs to take care of business during the night and uses the far end of the garage which is becoming more like a stable than a garage.
I had no idea that this winter would be so cold, windy, and snowy.
If it is 20 degrees during the night, I leave a door open so he can go outside as the need arises making us both happy.
I suppose I could get a kennel and make that a permanent place for him.
But the other side of that is he has a few health issues and I thought he was going to die two years ago.
I’ll build a kennel and then he’ll die.
But he is not coming in the house, and I am not an uncaring person, insensitive to the needs of a poor animal.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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