Some people shouldn’t own dogs, or probably any animal if the way they treat their dog is any indication. I’m not talking about beating them or starving them or anything like that. I’m talking about simply not understanding dogs and how they should be treated. And, really, it all comes down to one simple thing an owner should–must–know about dogs: dogs are pack animals. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to have a whole pack of dogs in order to made each one happy. What it means is that dogs kept in isolation, not just from other dogs, but even from the family that owns them, is cruel. It is torture for them to be alone. To a dog that has grown up with a human family or joined a family as an adult dog, (even if it only a single person) that family is his pack. And the human has to be the pack Alpha, but that is a whole other subject that I won’t get into at this time. The dog will protect that family (his pack) with his life, if such a sacrifice is called for. So, why do people get a dog and then make him spend the rest of his life in an outdoor pen? That’s like adopting a child and not allowing him out of his room–ever. Even if you visit the child in his room every time you take him his meal tray, he is living in solitary confinement, starving for social interaction. It is no different for the dog in a pen; it is still a life sentence of solitary confinement. Remember how zoos used to keep all their animals in small cages, especially dangerous ones like the big cats? Remember how horrible and totally unnatural it seemed to confine such creatures in those small cages, away from others of their kind, condemned to a life of pacing back and forth? Why do some people think it is okay to treat their own dog like that?
My inspiration for this rant is my neighbor. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, so I’m not too worried about him complaining about me ratting on him. I moved into my current house about a year ago. It’s in a middle-class residential area of single family homes, and it seems like at least every other house has at least one dog–a large one. Both houses on either side of me have large dogs. The one directly behind me, and both houses on either side of it have large dogs. Beyond that, I can’t say. But I know more are out there from the barking that goes on. Although that is mostly during the day, it also happens at night, so some of them–actually, quite a few, it appears–spend the nights outside. Which brings me back to my opening remark, that some people should not have dogs. The neighbor to my west takes his dog inside at night. I’m not sure about the one to the east because he doesn’t bark at night, and even seldom during the day. Probably goes inside.
I do know about the one behind me. I have looked over my back fence to see what the circumstance were. What I saw was a dog run about ten feet wide and maybe twenty-five or thirty feet long. I couldn’t see into it, but there appeared to be a shelter of some sort at the near end where it butts up against the back fence, so he apparently can get in out of the rain or hot sun. I saw a food dish and a water dish, and nothing else within view except the dog. That is his world. He is a large dog, some kind of hound, so the amount of room in a 10 X 30 foot enclosure doesn’t amount to very much. He can walk, but not run. You ever see a dog that doesn’t like to run? Or cock his leg on a few trees? Or chase a ball? I wonder if he knows what a ball is. Many a time I’ve heard him barking in response to children playing in the neighborhood, and his whining bark is clearly a plea to join them. But he can’t because he’s locked up. Sometimes I hear him exchanging barks with other dogs in the neighborhood like they are conversing. Sometimes he breaks out in a typical bay of a hound, and the other dogs join in for a good old sing-along. Sounds sorta like a wolf pack. It doesn’t last long, though. I don’t know if the other dogs are hushed up by their owners or if they just get bored. The hound never gets hushed up, though. He can bark and bark, for an hour or more at a time, sometimes late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, and he is hardly ever hushed up.
He appears well fed and healthy looking, so he is tended to, somewhat. He’s just ignored–until hunting season, probably. From my back door, I can see a small deer head mounted on a wall inside his owner’s house. Maybe he gets to go out into the woods to flush out a deer or two for his owner to shoot. Or not. I don’t know if the owner shot that deer or not. He may have bought it at a garage sale.
So, back to my original question, why do people have dogs and treat them like this? Is it a cultural thing? Do some cultures dictate that dogs should be kept outside and away from family except for meal times? If that is the case, what is the purpose of the dog? Are they supposed to be watch-dogs, protectors of the homestead? But, if that is the case, couldn’t they do a better job from inside the homestead instead of penned up outside it where they can’t do anything about intruders except bark at them? And if they bark constantly like perpetually penned dogs are apt to do, their barked warnings will likely be ignored, anyway. So, again, why have a dog? Some people shouldn’t.