By: Joel Allen
As we venture into 2020, we all need to remember winter is far from over. Yes, Alabama tends to get warm during the winter months, but just as quick can change. I remember as a child my family and I stayed warm during the winter by cutting firewood, using a fire place, and the family dog would curl up in our beds to keep warm. Some folks out there still use these methods during winter, and it is always a bonus for the family dog to get to come in out of the weather. But, let us just address those of us who, no matter how cold it gets, will refuse to bring in their dog. Those who do this should not even have a dog, in my opinion. I am always reminded of Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
So, let’s talk about what we can do to get our Family Canine Member(s) ready for the winter days left. If anyone thinks like me and considers the needs of our short-haired dogs, I would go and buy them a sweatshirt just for them to stay warm. I did this for Zues because he never adapted well to the cold. He would wait for me to get his sweatshirt out, and he would place his head right into the shirt. The moment he got it on, he stopped shivering, LOL. If I keep one outside (which I refuse to do, but if I did) I would ensure that they had a shelter, well insulated, and off the ground. I would even place some hay in their shelter to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Igloo dog houses or prefabricated dog houses are not insulated. If someone purchases one for their dog, be aware of this.
Now, if anyone has the time and energy, another great shelter idea one can build for their dog outside is an underground den. This can be a dug out hole and a huge PVC pipe covered in the ground. Ensure there are breathing holes or tubes installed into the roof of the underground den. We must remember that dogs were natural den animals before man domesticated them, or so I was taught to believe and have read. I will add this, underground shelters tend to stay 70 degrees year round, so there is a benefit against the hot weather. These shelters can be built out of wood also but unless treated, wood can rot over time. There is also concrete, but be careful because concrete can stay really cold during winter.
Another idea that works is an electric blanket. There is always a down side to this idea though; if the dog is a chewer, well we know what will happen to “Sparky,” so this may not be a good idea…and what if the power goes off?
One last idea that I would only use this in an emergency; let’s just pretend for a moment that there is a severe winter storm coming, and there is no shelter for your dog. A quick fix for this is hay bales. Stack them and build a complete shelter out of this material. It will act as a natural insulation against the cold and can be a great temporary fix for the situation. This can keep everyone warm should the need arise where the power fails. We should all have a plan for an emergency, even for our fur-babies.
By: Joel Allen