During bitter cold weather, the Humane Society in my community received complaints about an old, gentle dog, chained outdoors day and night, who was trying desperately and unsuccessfully to burrow into the frozen ground to escape the brutal wind chill. The dog cried in anguish and frustration. It's paws were bloodied from his efforts. His only "shelter" was a small plastic pet carrier, the floor of which was covered by ice.
The Humane Society intervened, but this is no isolated situation. I have received expressions of concern for the many dogs in Carbon County forced to spend most of their lives outdoors, in all kinds of weather, chained to trees or to doghouses that may provide inadequate shelter. Chained dogs often suffer from frostbite, dehydration, poor nutrition, parasites, lack of exercise, or improperly fitted collars. And even when shelters and basic sustenance are adequate, the lives of chained dogs or dogs otherwise deprived of attention from humans or from other dogs are lonely and unhappy.
The Vietnam Dog Handlers Association says that during the Vietnam War, dogs, hundreds of whom were killed in action, prevented an estimated 10,000 American casualties. At the National Infantry Museum, a monument depicts a combat-attired soldier with a dog at his side. An inscription reads "They protected us on the field of battle. They watch over our eternal rest. We are grateful."
Dogs worked themselves to exhaustion in rescue and recovery efforts at World Trade Center. Dogs are currently assisting American military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In my locality last year, Zoey - a year old Akita risked her own life to drag her human family's disabled daughter out of their burning home.
Guiding eyes dogs are lifelines and guardian angels for blind people. People in Carbon County who chain or otherwise neglect their dogs deprive themselves of the love dogs offer.
Nine years ago, I adopted a frisky black Labrador Retriever puppy from an animal shelter. Athena loves being petted and hugged. She greets me with her tail wagging, her eyes all devotion. Athene enjoys long walks with me and fetching baseballs. And when I have a bad day, I can count on Athena to snuggle up to me and cheer me up.
Dogs are, indeed, "man's best friend," deserving of a place in our hearts, and if not inside our home, at least deserving of comfortable, spacious surrounding, affection and exercise.