Tough to Walk Away When A Dog is Literally Tied to Its Lifestyle

Muck at "home" in Cat Lake.

There are always things that you see in the communities that are tough.  Everyone is different and different things are tough on different people.  It can be the conditions that people are living in or a child that touches you or a particular dog, whether it is the condition of the dog or the lifestyle it’s literally tied to.

I know that dogs feel pain and I know they get bored and lonely and frustrated and scared, and I know they sometimes just give up because there’s nothing else they can do.

I’m particularly sensitive to those dogs that don’t get to roam and make friends or stretch their legs or find food or shade.  I am sensitive to dogs that live their lives tied up.

Some are tied amongst trees that they are always tangled up around or eaten by bugs in, while others are tied out in the open with no shade, while others have the side of a dilapidated doghouse to give them a slight reprieve as the sun moves across the sky.

Some are tied on really short tie outs that don’t allow them to move more than two feet in any direction.  Some are skinny and some are so bored they spend their days biting the relentless flies that harass them.

Muck was one of those dogs.  When we saw him, his oversized chain was totally twisted, significantly shortening the already short space he had to move around.  He had long hair (that Benji look) and definitely didn’t look like the kind of dog who would be born in the north.

When we walked towards the dog house, he just stayed inside it, looking forlornly out as we approached.  He was watching life go by from the only place he knew… his ‘home’.  It was hot and sunny and one of the things I stress to dog owners is that in the winter, yes a dog house is imperative, but in summer dog houses can be horribly hot so shade from a nearby tree or bush is also necessary -- something that allows the dog to get out of the sun and catch a breeze.

Muck was out of water and there was no food but he sure had lots of energy and the anxious bark of someone who has just been given attention and can’t stand the idea of that attention going away.

I stayed with him, unraveling his chain while Ann went to fill his water bowl.  I also tried to entice Brownie over to say hi as it seems that the roaming dogs don’t visit with the tied dogs.  I’m not sure it’s true but I didn’t see one of them go up to nose/nose or introduce a bit of fun into the captive’s boring day.

Even though I tried, Brownie wasn’t interested.

Ann knows Muck’s owner and she talked to her as she filled his water bowl.  When you talk to owners your advice needs to be in context and you need to keep the conversation helpful or all your good intentions are lost on owners who don’t appreciate what you are saying or how you have said it.

No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong, myself included.  Muck’s owner said she had had Muck for about two years and she was attached to him.  He didn’t get off his tie out because if he did, he’d bite someone (seemed highly unlikely!).

Ann and I explained that a dog needs to exercise and socialize and that requires either walking your dog… or letting your dog walk himself.  While there, I felt between his legs to see if he was neutered… he wasn’t so we along with talking about care, we asked the owner if she wanted him neutered.  It’s not uncommon for people to talk about how they don’t want to interfere with nature but of course, we already have.

These are domesticated animals that depend on us to meet their needs.  And of course, what would be natural for an intact dog is to mate so by tying Muck up, nature had already been interfered with.  With an explanation about the benefits of neutering, she agreed and she was also going to think about our conversation about providing Muck with a more stimulating lifestyle.

The next morning, Ted went to pick Muck up and bring him over to the school for his neuter.  I asked Ted to walk him the long way to the clinic to let him stretch his legs and explore his environment.  I was at the clinic when they arrived, and Muck arrived happy and hot from his jaunt.

I left before he was sedated for surgery but wasn’t that far away when Terri called me on the walkie talkie to say that they needed me urgently…. They wanted to show me the difference between an intact male and one who had already been neutered!  Very funny.

As it turned out, Muck had been neutered. What I had quickly felt while he was tied to his post were significant mats of hair, tight and painful against his skin.  Other than being made fun of and losing credibility, the benefits outweigh the embarrassment.

Muck already being neutered was good news and because the vets had already sedated him for his supposed neuter, Terri and Sandy were able to shave off all his mats and give him a good brushing.

But spa day came to an end and it was time for Muck to go home.  He was once again walked the long way but in the end, the outcome was the same.  Back on his chain, back at his house. This is one of the tough ones.

-- JH

To read the previous posts in this series, click here.

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