This is a Working Farm, Not a Pet Hotel


I know many of you who follow my blog know the realities of farm life.  One of those realities is that our animals contribute in some way to the vitality of the farm or homestead.  Even our horses contribute by enriching the garden soil.

Now before I explain why we do not have a pet hotel, let me assure you that we love our animals, some more than others, and all have food, shelter and water.

I have seen pictures like this going around facebook.


I don't agree.

Yes, there are some dogs and cats that need to be inside if they do not have shelter outside or who are mainly indoor animals who are not used to cold weather.  These animals are for companionship only.

But, you can't put all animals in the same category.

My Shasta, in the first picture, is not just a companion.  She is a working dog who protects our chickens and goats.  She has not been spoiled(only around 4-H time does she get to hang out inside to stay clean).

People who post pictures like this have not a clue about farm life, but many are quick to judge us. 

Let me explain.

Every animal on our farm is contributing to something.  We raise them to respect their God-given roles, roles that have a purpose.  The goats give us milk which is used for many different things.  The pigs give us meat and help plow up and fertilize the garden.  The chickens give us meat and eggs.  The horses give us manure and companionship for our children.  The dogs protect our farm and family and provide us with great companionship as well.

If one of these animals is not doing it's job, we find out the cause.  If it can't be fixed, we normally do not keep that animal.  We used to have a Border Collie who killed chickens and guineas left and right.  There was nothing we could do to teach him not to kill.  We eventually gave him away as he was hindering our farm.

Hens who are no longer laying need to be butchered. 

If we have a goat who is not thriving or is always sickly or weak despite our best measures, we sell him(take him to the auction) or cull him/her.  We cannot put money into an animal who has become more of a taker than a giver.  Sounds terrible to city folk, I know.  But, it is reality here on the farm.



This Haflinger, Tigger, is quite content to hang outside for awhile, but is smart enough to get in the barn if he gets chilly.  I don't need to lock him in the barn, he is a hardy fella and knows what's best for him!




Our other Great Pyr, Max, was actually a movie star when he was a puppy in the movie, Santa Paws 2.  Do you think we cater to him and treat him like royalty?  Well, maybe we did for a little while when he got back home, but he is on guard duty 24-7 now.  Besides, he would rather sit there on the deck keeping watch than go inside the barn.  But, like Tigger, if he gets chilly, he has the brains to head for shelter.

So, why aren't they all scratching on our door begging to come in?  Because they would prefer not to, except our Golden Retriever who just had puppies.  She gets to stay inside and get pampered!

We do what we can to keep them comfortable, but we cannot cater to them and coddle them.  That would ruin them.  The more input, time and money we put into an animal, the more it hurts us and them in the end most of the time, except for training and bonding.  Our animals need to be able to think for themselves, to keep that wild instinct of survival so that they are more self sufficient.

Oh, and yes, we do keep our barn cats outside.  After all, they are barn cats.  They hang out there and catch mice.  That is there job and they are contributing to the farm.

I have had some tell me that our poor freezing Shasta should be inside(after I shared her picture on facebook).   

I highly doubt they have a Great Pyr, let alone a farm or homestead of any kind.

I guess some don't realize what they are implicating, that I should bring all of my Pyrs in during cold weather and leave everything else unprotected from predators?  Let's paint a picture shall we?  How about a chicken or two or three getting shredded to pieces by a raccoon or opossum?  Or worse, a coyote snatching a newborn kid goat?  And then, once the dogs have been inside for awhile, they get more used to this warmer climate and become spoiled, not wanting to stay outside and do their job?

They are WORKING dogs as well as companions.  They get plenty of attention and love, and are pretty balanced creatures.  They aren't needy, they aren't scared, they are farm dogs with a mission.

I'll keep mine outside.  Feel free to do what you want with yours as you only know what's best for your own.

UPDATE:  Because of this post, I have been blasted by animal rights activists and my soap and lotion business has been attacked by some who say they will boycott it.  My bet is not one has a farm.

It's common sense, friends.






49 comments:

  1. Thank you!!!! I get so tired of being accused of being heartless because my dogs live outside. If that's the case, why are there so many Craigslist ads for dogs who need a place to run on a farm? We love our dogs, even though we realize they are built to live outside and will be just fine.

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    1. Your dogs are NOT built to live outside, which is why many cities and municipalities have enacted laws against this. In my city, my Animal Control has found dogs and cats frozen to death because of owners that leave them outside. This is a sick way to think, and if you don't agree, I encourage you to spend the night outside along with your dog and tell me how you feel then.

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    3. These dogs ARE bred/deveolped to live outside. Many of the LGD breeds were developed in the Alps, a very cold place. They are bred to protect the livestock from predators. Ever seen a sheep that has been killed by a coyote? Not a pretty site, I won’t describe it, you wouldn’t like it. On our farm the sheep and the dogs that protect them are an asset and we take care of them. LGD’s are dedicated to the livestock they protect and can be very stressed if taken away from the livestock. This morning when I went to check on my sheep it was -5F. They have a choice, inside the barn to eat the hay there of outside and eat the hay there. They were outside, their choice. Where where yours? Don’t have any? Then there is much you don’t know about livestock and LGD’s.

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    4. These dogs ARE meant to be outside. At least go to the bother of reading about their origin, creation, breeding and PURPOSE!! Or is your only exposure to these animals in kiddy books - it would appear so. You have ZERO idea about the different needs of different breeds of dogs and that makes YOU an abusive owner, to not cater to their individual needs.

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    5. Julie, I do sleep outside with my sled dogs often. I've done so even at 40 below with wind chills dropping below 70 I can handle this because like the dogs I and my body have adapted to it. I've brought dogs in at night and most of the sled dogs pant and are miserable inside and just want to go back out to the cold. I've had dogs that didn't develop a winter coat because they were inside too much and had to make the decision to leave them outside IN THEIR BEST INTERESTS instead of bringing them in for my own need of companionship. To say dogs can't live outside is a joke many of these breeds have been living outside for thousands of years just fine without laws to protect them.

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  2. I am one of those people that post the pics of the snow covered "pets" that say if it is to cold for you it's to cold for them. However I have never directed those coments toward "farm animals" It is directed at the people that have their dogs chained to a tree in the back yard with no shelter, or their cats that are allowed to roam the neighborhoods seeking shelter wherever it may be found. My Mom had a norweigan elkhound that had no problem adjusting from house to outside for hours and hours, she loved the snow. However my weimerainer could never survive.The only comment I have ever made when driving past a farm on a cold winter day is, "it makes me cold just looking at those...cows, horses." It is very rare that I have ever thought the animals were not well taken care of by the humans.

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    1. Dee - Two of the dogs pictured in the one that is currently viral on Facebook are cold weather breeds - a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Bulgarian Shepherd. You can tell by their postures and expressions which is in distress and which is not. People viewing that picture are not making that distinction and condemning all dog owners who leave their pets outside, even if the choice is the pet's.

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  3. I enjoy reading your posts. I was raised on a farm and later lived and worked on a working farm for nearly 40 years. I had a Grade A goat dairy, milking 75 does and having 150+ kids born each spring, plus we had pigs, calves, chickens, rabbits and dogs and cats. I now live in the city, which has its advantages also. I have never understood the "us vs. them" mentality. I believe your post today is as non-understanding of animals in the city as you claim they are of your situation. I have seen the animal pictures on FB and have even shared some, knowing there are animals who do not have shelter. I have not seen one remark about farmers neglecting their animals. (BTW, I have seen farm animals neglected also) Every situation is a bit different so unless you have been personally attacked for your animals being mistreated, I see no reason for the defensiveness. Stay warm.

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    1. I highlighted the section where I have been accused. You can reread that if you'd like. I have also been accused of goat abuse because we use them for milk. So, yes, I have been personally attacked and I will gladly share what life is really like to these people. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Love this! Thank you for writing what I was thinking. We have a heated shed for the dogs that are shorter haired that they can come and go as they please but the Great Pyr likes to stay outside even in this - deg weather. In fact he is happier in this weather than when it's 90 deg outside. We only have working animals on our farm so it would not make since to bring them all inside, they have places to go to get out of the wind and snow.

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  5. This is an awesome post, while I don't have a working farm I "get it"! Love reading your posts! I have chickens and someone recently asked how the chickens stay warm, I replyed that they have a coop for shelter and I feed and water them, I don't use a heater or lights. Wish I was able to have more but circumstances don't allow for a full out farm, so I live through you and others with farms!

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  6. It very much depends on the type of dog too. A chihuahua would freeze out there.

    I have short haired dogs and we live in normally very warm climate. They protect the family, alarm us when someone is here or even in the yard. (A passed away greyhound tried to protect me from the meter reader in our yard one day). My animals would not survive well outside.

    I might be "small city" but I look at the picture and your dog looks HAPPY. I wish I had a fur coat like your dogs to keep me warm.

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  7. funny how most people think nothing of a cow out to pasture in the winter but some people see horses out in & the winter & freak especially if they are not blanketed! LOL! Mother nature does the best job, just let them develop their long hair, blankets interfere with that . . . and most people are responsible, farmers especially as that is their business, they need to take care of it. I have a 30 year old mare out to pasture with her daughters with a run in shed (she HATES the barn!) that I now have to blanket during the winter because of her age & condition. I love my animals, I take great care of them. They are fed , watered & checked on at least twice a day. Horses are livestock and are fine in cold weather as long as they are acclimated . . . healthier outside than in!

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  8. Great post! I completely agree! :)

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  9. We have a Great Pyrenees and we live in Louisiana. We are having temps in the 20's right now. We put our Pyr in the shed last night, but had to make her go in. She loves to be outside, so it's quite possible she may stay out tonight.

    Your dogs are beautiful! I loved looking at your pics. :)

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  10. Great post! I completely agree!

    It's just as cruel and abusive to force a thick-coated dog to stay inside, over-heating inside of a 75 degree house, just because the thin skinned, furless human is cold. These same humans that point fingers at those of us with outdoor dogs, should bundle up in a heavy fur coat and sit in front of their fireplace or furnace heater for 8 hours. Only then might they truly understand.

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    1. I agree. I live in Tennessee and the winter weather is mostly mild and our summers are hit and humid. I see people with huskies as pets. This climate is miserable for huskies. Get a breedv that wont be miserable in your climate.

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  11. Thank you for this post............I tooo get sick of seeing those ads!! We also have a small working farm........no working dogs but our animals love the outdoors. We have a llama that rarely goes inside. We do have a Pyr x dog that is a house dogbut she does love the outdoors..............never kept outside though!

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  12. I totally agree! We have a Great Pyr, and ours is also a working dog. He guards our miniature horses and chickens from coyotes. We live in AZ where we have the opposite problem, heat, but we had people tell us that their coat actually helps to keep them cooler than if you shave it off! God knew what He was doing when He made such fun animals!

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  13. As a former "city folk" turned "country folk" a few years back I just want to applaud you for speaking so boldly about what your animals' purposes are! To give and not take. To be an active participant on your farm.

    Amen and amen!

    **** And your Pyr's are gorgeous, btw :) ****


    Blessings,
    Janet.... mamachildress
    Countrylivingmama.blogspot.com

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  14. If you're going to live your life on "social" media, you must grow a thick skin. You will always be attacked from someone, somewhere, especially when you are dealing with the younger people who are just sure they have it all figured out, just ask them.

    Common sense must prevail, and your animals will surely tell you what they need, as you point out. However, as a word of warning to all, do not become so convinced that you are right and everyone else is wrong that you fail to put the care of living creatures ahead of your own "righteousness". I had a barn cat as a child who was also a "pet", of sorts; she froze to death one winter morning, when her means of keeping warm failed. As an animal rescuer, that still hurts to remember.

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  15. The true difference is that your dog can get inside when needed. I believe the message that it is too cold for them needs to get to the people who chain up their dogs and forget them except to feed and water them. These people need to provide the shelter you inherently have already provided.

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    1. I hate to see dogs chains up! I'm talking about the ones chained up for 24/7 with no interaction from humans and sometimes even don't have water because its been knocked over by the chain.

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    2. Then perhaps the memes should specify that an animal in a fur coat, with shelter available, isn't what they're talking about. I've seen "shaming" pictures posted of dogs in snowy backyards, romping around with a nice doghouse clearly visible. The reality is that most dogs who are allowed to spend time out in their local climate, will be fine in normal weather.

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  16. Wonderful post. Yes, there's a huge difference between sticking a plastic dog house outside and calling it shelter and having a real wind block with lots of straw. Our labs are just fine that way, and honestly, they seem far happier to me than many large inside dogs I've seen that have to obey a ton of human rules so they don't mess up any of the human stuff. Mine get to run, chase small animals, pee where they please, and wrestle each other to their hearts' content. They also don't have to sit and watch us eat food they want but cannot have, which truly bothers me. We're not on a farm. They are pets. But they're also a security alarm. They understand this and they do that well.

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  17. Ok, semi city girl here ( hey in jersey having 2 acres makes me country, just ask my city cousins who want to come camping in my " wilderness " back yard :D ). I get your point but also agree with others who say that I personally never really considered farm animals in the bring your pets in posts. Your animals have a purpose and probably at least somewhere they can get out the worst of the elements. They are a valued part of your life and your home despite the non coddling. The pets I post about are the ones who stupid/selfish people get under the illusion that the animal will fill some part of their empty lives and when it actually has needs or requires work they stick it on a chain or in a kennel where their only interaction is to dump some generic dry food a few times a week. Leaving them outside 24/7 is only the beginning of their crappy treatment. Part of the reason why they die on the chains has to do with lack of care, medical and nutritional leaves them unable to sustain themselves where I'm sure your pets have no problem. For me personally, my pets love and companionship is their worth and while I truly appreciate them protecting me from the UPS man and the bird feeder from squirrels, I would be more than happy if they weren't so vigilant about the skunks :D. But having owned a Chow for 15 yrs I get the arctic breeds liking the cold and fought her ( not successfully most times ) to come inside during storms or low temps. She slept so deeply that times she would be completely covered in snow overnight and not even wake up til I rousted her. Of course she had a such a thick wild coat of fur that her nickname was The Yak so she had no interest in being coddled, until the 100 degree weather in summer when the hallway tiles and AC were her best friend. It's all perspective I guess...

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  18. I believe the point to be made is take care of yout pets. Whether they are on a farm, ranch or regular home. Regardless, of working breed or not, they must have shelter especially during -50° wind chill factors. Cats too......if you have outside cats they need shelter too, even on a farm.....thus the name barn cats. I believe both views are equally correct. I chose to have my dogs inside during bad weather. My cats are all indoor also but thats my choice. I've always been blessed with GSDs and have several who loved to be outside until temps got below zero or other bad conditions. They have always had wonderful doghouses full of straw and other bedding, our dogs still do but rarely use them as they come inside. Same for summer....they need shade, a cool place, and lots of water. Some ppl are ignorant to the basic needs of animals and there in lies the issue!

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  19. I believe the point to be made is take care of yout pets. Whether they are on a farm, ranch or regular home. Regardless, of working breed or not, they must have shelter especially during -50° wind chill factors. Cats too......if you have outside cats they need shelter too, even on a farm.....thus the name barn cats. I believe both views are equally correct. I chose to have my dogs inside during bad weather. My cats are all indoor also but thats my choice. I've always been blessed with GSDs and have several who loved to be outside until temps got below zero or other bad conditions. They have always had wonderful doghouses full of straw and other bedding, our dogs still do but rarely use them as they come inside. Same for summer....they need shade, a cool place, and lots of water. Some ppl are ignorant to the basic needs of animals and there in lies the issue!

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  20. We live on 37 acres with our daughter, son-in-law, 4 children, 1 dog and 5 cats. My daughter and I have had this very discussion regarding the pets...All pets are outside pets...my problem with our situation was that the two youngest cats are kittens and one isn't even full grown in size. My daughter would say the cats know to go to the barn. I say the two youngest ones and possibly their mom do not understand to go to the barn. So for this last blast of cold, I asked my daughter to bring a dog house she has and put it on my porch. I fashioned a light in it with blankets and a moving blanket for a door. It took a couple of nights and now they get the picture. They will go in without being put in...The mom is rather mean and hisses for them to leave...but she usually gets the boot! from me...The older two cats know to go to the barn and don''t like the house except to get a drink and a bite to eat. The dog, well he is a trip...he will sleep outside and get snow all over him...BUT in the coldest nights, he is allowed in. He continues to protect our property otherwise...with no problem of having to be inside...He comes in during the worst heat, as well. Bottom line, is I have no problem with the animals being in or out as long as they are not freezing to death. I do enjoy your posts...as others have said, some folks do not see the forest for the trees! Blessings!

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  21. It is cruel to take a dog that lives and works outside - whether an active hunter, herder, or guard, and force it to tolerate warmer temperatures. Think about it yourself - the first cold blasts of winter FEEL cold; the same at the end of the season are...nothing. In Texas, the first 100 degree days are tough...by the end of September, life is OK. Dogs that are acclimated to outside life and prepared for it by coat, are OK; those that are not need to be brought in.

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  22. I grew up in the country, and although I am very much a fan of keeping my dogs inside and spoiling them, I know the difference between a working farm dog and a cherished pet. I had herding breeds throughout my childhood, and my rough collie/GSD mix loved to be outside in the winter. We didn't force her to be in, but she always had the choice to be in if she so wanted. Now, I own and rescue pit bulls, and no way will those dogs choose to be out in the cold, nor should they be! Their coat is very thin. But there's certainly a difference between farm dogs who have the option to get into shelter and choose to be out doing their job than dogs like pits being chained to a tree in the back yard... I wish more animal people could recognize and respect that.

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  23. An intelligent and well written post - well done, IMHO.

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  24. Add sleddogs to the mix. Outdoor living dogs... Well taken care of outside the normal bad egg. Working dogs, loving life outside. Inside? They overheat. Those relentless accosters--and being close to Wash. DC WE GET MANY--should focus oncold humans imho. I've educated thousands of city folk on this very topic over the last ten years of running dogsled tours.

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  25. It is a terrible shame that people who have *never* been your customers are boycotting your business.
    My country home has been encroached upon by subdivisions and I am frequently dealing with people who are totally clueless about what their sweet Fido does when he packs up with other roaming dogs.
    Fido is more problematic than the coyotes, skunks, hawks, and possums on our chickens and goats.

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  26. I am ONLY sorry that you "put yourself out there" by making this post and are now being attacked by the animal rights Nazis... Kudos to you for being a farm family! My only advice would be -- shelter yourself from the rest of the world because "they" are stupid and you don't deserve to be a target of the insane....

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  27. Love your comments..I too have a Pyr and she loves the snow, goes out and rolls around to get covered good. And horses if they have snow piled up on their backs that's a good sign, it acts as an insulator. City folks don't have a clue I have been harrassed too about my animals. If they are I'll or something going on then by all means they will be brought in but God created them to survive the elements

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  28. Love your comments..I too have a Pyr and she loves the snow, goes out and rolls around to get covered good. And horses if they have snow piled up on their backs that's a good sign, it acts as an insulator. City folks don't have a clue I have been harrassed too about my animals. If they are I'll or something going on then by all means they will be brought in but God created them to survive the elements

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  29. We have a pyr, and he is a working dog. I use to worry a lot but my husband says that's what they are for. Said he knows when to get out of the cold and rain. But he would rather lay in the middle of a muddy yard in pouring rain than in his house. When it snows he'd rather be in the middle of it with ice on his fur. That's what they like. God made them to handle weather. Thanks for your article.

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  30. The majority of people out there are so far removed from the "real life" of animals that they have no idea what they are talking about when they say "if you are cold - they are cold". In most cases, this is NONSENSE! You hit the nail on the head on several points about animals living outside - including dogs and cats. Somebody posted that animals NEED to be kept inside because the laws say that they NEED it. This too is nonsense! Laws are being passed by municipalities that are being run by folks who do not understand the "real lives" of animals and are projecting their own needs on animals when setting these "welfare" laws. The laws do not PROVE that animals need special care and shelter - it proves that laws are being written and passed by ignorant folks that have only "good intentions" and no real experience with or authority on the care of animals.

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  31. I agree. I have a Siberian Husky. Just try to get her to come in when it's snowing, she doesn't want to. I'd love someone to tell me she is in distress in the cold... LOL....

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  32. Love this. Thank you. I have two collies, they are working dogs as they guard-herd our poultry. I have some relatives who are beside themselves with grief that our dogs are not allowed in the house. They sleep in a heated garage but are outside in every sort of weather. Dogs are animals, not humans.

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  33. So I have gathered from the majority of the comments that you should also bring in the cows and horses on farms. Lol

    People- there is a big difference between leaving a puny chihuahua (which I own) outside in the snow versus a farm dog. As you can clearly see- that LGD has quite a bit of hair, and a very accommodating undercoat. City people may not realize that months before winter hits, most farm animals that are acclimated to outdoor life, begin to grow a winter coat. The arguement that this is cruel is ridiculous. I raise goats, cattle, chickens, ducks and have several barn cats.... I have yet to lose a single animal to the cold. Our animals do not feed themselves or bust their own water troughs- so try and remember we do have to endure the cold as well...

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  34. Common sense isn't so common anymore is it

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  35. We, and two Malamutes, lived in the outskirts of Chicago. One day a police officer came to our home and wanted to see our dogs. He had a report they were outside in 2 feet of snow. Our driveway had been shoveled and had huge snow banks at the end. When we called the dogs, the snow banks started to move and two big dogs appeared, shook off all the snow and came running over. One of the dogs promptly did a spread eagle over an ice patch, and laid their with his private parts in contact with the ice. The office just laughed, shook his head and said "sorry to have bothered you folks". Humans that live in the North think 40 degrees in the spring feels like summer. While people that live in Florida think 40 degrees is freezing and know winter has come. When animals live outside, as seasons change their protective coats change for the upcoming seasons. Even tropical parrots form a denser down, and can even play in the snow or ice that form in their water troughs. Acclimation, acclimation.

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  36. Education is the key. Read and learn before you have the 'greatest opinion' pushed on everyone. This lady knows her dogs and this particular dog breed has been breed for those conditions.
    Read up:

    http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees

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  37. We also had a great pyrenees that loved the outdoors...we had a dog house for him built in the barn with the chickens but...he DID prefer to be outside!!
    Even when he got sick...(addisons disease) he wanted to be outdoors protecting us as well as the chickens. He was a trooper to the end...when he was on his last breath...he was still out by the tree where he watched and guarded...we had to physically bring him in to let him know it was ok to go...we would be fine...a couple hours later he passed. He had a great life 5 children to play with...a job ( chickens and us) and a great huge fenced in yard to roam...but he made the decisions...if you give your animal, esp. GP who are bred to guard, what they need...food shade shelter...they will decide what to do.
    People neex to do what is best for their dog. We have since rescued a coonhound/shepherd mix and he likes the outdoors as well, but he decides when its time to take shelter...he is also being trained to help with the chickens although he could carr less but he is a great protector to us. GP are livestock guardian dogs, but also will take care of owner...they have a double coat that keepa them warm in winter as well as cool in summer...look it up...you dont just get a GP for a pet...they neex to have a job and feel needed.
    Great article!!

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