How do you keep outdoor animals safe? I live in the ‘burbs, with a six foot privacy fence, and my only outdoor animals are the chickens and ducks. You’d think they’d be pretty safe.
You’d be wrong.
We built a coop for the girls and Jim last year. They sleep in it every night, all safe and warm. They wander around the back yard all day, hunting bugs, taking dirt baths, with plenty of hiding place from hawks. Or so I thought, until yesterday.
Losing Peep, my lap chicken, to a hawk, got me thinking about my other animals. Flash and Patches, my Aussie mixes, are indoor dogs, but they spend time in the back yard. Our mostly indoor cat, Lou, went missing about a month ago. Now we’re wondering if he didn’t meet up with a coyote on one of his night time prowls.
For twenty plus years we’ve faced the dilemma with our cats – indoor, outdoor or both? We’ve nearly always had indoor cats with access to a dog door, or who we let out when they ask politely. No litter box. Happy cat gets to hunt and roam. It has never really been an issue. And honestly, I don’t want to have a cat’s claws removed, or have litter issues. It’s a calculated risk, I guess you could say.
Our dogs have always been indoor dogs, allowed out whenever they please. It makes for happy dogs, fewer fleas and ticks than outdoor dogs, cleaner. I miss having a dog door most days. And we’re not prissy about our dogs, their fur, muddy paws. Sure, it’s a hassle, but the dogs love the freedom of coming and going when they please.
So what do you do? We have a six foot privacy fence. We live in the suburbs. We and the dogs are in and out of the back yard all day long. Yet predators come and steal, kill, destroy.
It’s heart breaking.
Yet. Yet, I don’t want to cage all my animals out of fear. I don’t live my life out of fear. I refuse to. And they’re ANIMALS.
Animals I love and want to protect.
Y’know, my philosophy as a mother has been much the same as my pet philosophy. I hold them with a loose hand, knowing they’ll learn to make their own decisions, and that they won’t always be safe. I have to trust that what I’ve taught them is what I intended to, and that they’ll make good decisions. Knowing they won’t always.
So I live with loss. Animals don’t live forever, just as people don’t. I choose some amount of freedom for my pets, knowing there are risks involved.
So my eyes still burn from copious tears shed for the loss of my favorite chicken. And we draw up plans for a seven foot tall aviary for the back yard. I do learn. And mourn. And ask how you keep your outdoor animals safe?
Until I write again …