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.