Dear Carol, “Do you know whether or not shelters will adopt to owners who want an “outdoor only” pet? I’m trying to get a dog for my boys, but my husband doesn’t want it in the house at all. Help!!”
Dear ‘Help!:’ “No most shelters won’t do that and they shouldn’t. Since dogs are such highly social family members, he or she would be so much happier and healthier in the house where they can interact. It’s also a danger to the dog’s physical and mental well being to keep them outside. I personally would never get a pet if they had to stay outside. Why doesn’t your husband want a dog in the house?? I’d be happy to share info about why dogs need and want to live inside with their loving family.”
The above is an actual message exchange that occurred on my Facebook page last week. The dog mom, rescuer, and advocate in me wanted to scream and say, “Please do not get a dog. Something along the lines of a fish would be more suitable for your family,” but I resisted. Knowledge is power. Besides, “Help’s” query touched a nerve in me. Growing up, our family dog, an innocent 15-pound Dachshund, lived her life outside on a rope and my memories of the entire situation are bleak and grim. She was lonely, empty, and like any living being, craved attention and companionship. In her isolation and solitude, I can’t imagine she received much. She was an outdoor dog, and it was wrong then and now.
Dogs are social beings to their inner core. They are pack animals, meaning they thrive, survive, and must be nurtured with other living beings (and not a second dog, left in isolation with them). Gone are the days of leaving Rover outside to fend for himself because, after all, he’s “just an animal.”
Dogs need human interaction and stimulation. A bored dog is an unhappy dog. A dog that is left outside to his or her own thoughts is unfair and unhealthy to the dog. Imagine being wrapped up in your own mental isolation because you were born a dog and someone placed you outside.
I developed a 7-point quick quiz. Simply answer true or false to the following:
- I don’t want a dog in the house because they might dirty up the furniture.
- Dogs belong outside. I know/knew plenty of people who have a dog outside and they are fine.
- Dogs like being outside on their own. They came from wolves and wolves live outside.
- I don’t want my lawn or yard messed up so the dog will only have a certain area outside where he or she will stay often.
- I don’t want dog hair or the risk of allergies with having a dog in the house.
- The dog will still be allowed inside sometimes but has to stay outside a lot.
- A dog carries germs or disease and I don’t want that risk to me or my family.
If you answered TRUE to any of the following, please do not get a dog. Seriously. Dogs form bonds with their families; they thrive and grow with attention. An idle mind is an unhappy mind, and occasionally tossing a ball or a chew bone to a dog does not a busy mind make.
A dog who is allowed to be outside with supervision, in a dog run, or at something like a dog park: these are different circumstances and ones that are not only encouraged, but in which my dog and I engage. You bond with a dog when you spend time living together and playing together.
Yes, I am a dog lover but first and foremost, I respect life in general. So I pose the question to you, ‘Help,’ would you want to live outside and be treated like a family member when it’s convenient?
Neither does a dog.
You are also teaching your children how to treat animals. I know people who say “my grandma kept her dog outside” or “my uncle used to let his dog roam the streets.” Most often, those children grow up to be adults who think it is okay to keep a dog outside.
It is in your best interest not to have a dog. I thought long and hard about what to say to you, but my inner core and nearly 20 years of being in the pet world keeps poking at me and poking at me to respond with fact and passion. I respect that you asked me and I thank you for that, too. If a shelter does allow you to adopt a dog knowing they will be kept outside, that shelter should not be operating. A good shelter or rescue group will not allow this.
Knowledge is power. Unless your husband suddenly sees the light, I’d not bring a dog into the darkness that will envelop him by living a life outside.