ULTIMATE RANT | Let Chilly Dogs Lie

By Allison Perry | 1/12/16

Oh the dogs, the dogs, the DOGS.

Recently on TSRB Paula Eisenberg implored Telluride Dog Owners to “…stop leaving your beloved dogs tied up outside on cold mornings like this one, while you’re inside all toasty and warm.”

Eisenberg describes arriving at the Medical Center for a morning appointment and seeing a dog tied outside, shivering violently, and seeing him still there upon leaving a few minutes later.

“This is the second time in a few days that I’ve seen a dog being mistreated this way in this town,” she said. “Enough!”

This is a hard one. As a dog owner myself, and a dog lover, I agree with this rant as it pertains to dogs that are actually being mistreated.

What I disagree with, however, is the idea that the potentially misinformed opinion of strangers should somehow guide anyone and everyone to take “righteous” action the moment they see a dog tied up outside.

Some people (ahem, Damon Nillson) even purport to be “…on the verge of taking [the dog] somewhere warm,” adding “Fuck any owner who has a problem with that!”

Well, I have a problem with that. How do I know Nilsson wouldn’t take my dog if he erroneously happens to believe 40 degrees and sunny is too cold for him to be tied outside, or, worse, if he believes my dog has been outside for two hours when he’s only really been there for 10 minutes?

Sure most dogs can’t handle sub-zero temps for hours just laying around. No one is disputing that. But my dog, for example – an Aussie mix – LOVES cold and tolerates cold weather just fine, routinely choosing to lie in huge piles of snow for up to 30 or 45 minutes with minimal movement rather than come indoors.

I check on my dog every 15 minutes when he’s outside, and because I know him better than anyone I am the one who gets to make the call as to whether or not he’s okay being outside for any length of time in any temperature.

Case in point, as Penelope Gleason pointed out, the dog that was the subject of this rant was, in fact, only out in the cold for a couple of minutes and apparently shivers all the time. Moreover, it’s okay for a dog to shiver for a few minutes. If we can, they can.

I think it was the right thing for Eisenberg to inquire about the situation before taking some kind of irreversible action, but based on the comments section it appears that not everyone would be inclined to be so thorough.

While I appreciate the fervor Eisenberg, Nilsson and others, like Basit Mustafa, have when it comes to treating our furry friends ethically and appropriately, I take issue with statements such as this: “Ultimately, if someone needs to hitch their dog for any amount of time – e.g. [more than] a minute or two while they check their PO box – they probably shouldn’t have one.”

This is a sweeping generalization that doesn’t account for any individual circumstances or…reality.

Why is it that people think only Huskies can be outside in cold temperatures? Are they the only dogs that have fur? Did I miss the memo?

Now, if you or I attempted to lay in the snow butt naked for almost an hour when it’s 35 or 40 degrees out, sun or not, we’d probably die of hypothermia. Know why our dogs can do it and we can’t? Hmm, well here’s a clue, it’s because THEY’RE DOGS.

My dog also adores jumping in the river when it’s cold enough for spit to freeze before it hits the ground. Know why he likes taking polar bear dips and I don’t? Because HE’S A DOG.

Sure as Mustafa indicates, the “he’s a dog” isn’t a catchall excuse. But the fact that HE’S A DOG must be somewhat taken into account.

I do support the general notion that we can and should take action upon noticing dogs who are really being neglected in cold or hot weather, but before you throw a dog owner under the bus you’d best have your facts straight and you’d best be damn certain that dog is suffering and has been outside for longer than appropriate.

But hey, if you really care about the dogs (more so than your ego and the illusory feeling of having “done some good”) you’ll be willing to put in the time it takes to ensure that you’re not publicly shaming or calling the authorities on a good dog owner (which could end up causing more detriment to the dog than a few minutes of shivering). Right…?

Allison Perry’s Ultimate Rant finds its inspiration from the Facebook group page, Telluride Sweet Rants and Bitching, a forum to discuss ideas, businesses, housing, government, or anything else related to Telluride, the region, and its people.

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About the Author

Allison Perry

Allison Perry was born and raised in New York City and earned a BA in Political Science from The University Of Wisconsin - Madison and a JD at Case Western Reserve University School Of Law before moving to Alaska with the hopes of becoming the next Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Although she went so far as to pass the Bar Exam in Sarah Palin's playground, she became disillusioned with law and decided to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist and a photographer. She moved to Colorado in 2010 and after a few years ski-bumming and retailing, she was finally able to transform her freelance writing into a full time career at The Watch. Allison believes local journalism is an essential part of living in a small town, and strives to write objectively, in plain English, with a critical eye and a dash of sarcasm here and there. She is stoked to be a part of the San Juan Independent.