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Inside or outside, love your pets


September 24, 2012
Billie Shelton ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

At the moment, we don't have a pet on the place. Or any kind of other animal, either, unless you count the occasional skunk or raccoon waddling in or out of the corn field beside us. Sometimes, if they get especially bold, they end up in a live trap in our hog house turned storage shed.

I think it's wrong to live in the country without at least one pet. Why, we didn't even have chickens on the place this summer. Buddy, our black-and-white springer spaniel, has been gone for probably four years. He just got too old. I miss him.

We've had plenty of cats and kittens around here. Who can't love kittens? (My husband wasn't so sure about that when one of our mama cats had a litter of kittens on the seat of his boat a few years back.) But for some time our cats and kittens haven't been doing well here. Eventually they just go away and don't come back. So we're taking a break from cats, and instead when I need a cat or kitten fix I visit the neighbors' felines.

I don't remember such a situation when I was growing up on a farm. We just always had cats and litters of kittens that were healthy, probably from the fresh milk they were fed in the milk house. They were all barn cats, of course. Animals lived outside, not inside. And nobody ever used the term barn cats or knew what that meant.

Although we don't live on a working farm, our pets have all lived outside. I think that's because both my husband and I grew up on farms. And that meant that all animals, even pets, were outside. They can still be part of the family when that's the case, you know.

I appreciate that the pet experts tell us that pets are happier when they live inside with their families, because then they are much better socialized. But we still don't believe that animals belong in the house. They are pets, and members of the family as such even though they stay outside. Our son predicted that I would soon have a house cat after the empty nest set in. I admit that some days it's tempting, but it hasn't happened yet.

I read that 63 percent of all U.S. households own a pet, and from what I see all around me - like the farmer's market we attended a few weeks back - I'm sure that most of those cats and dogs live inside. I hope they get some outside time, too, because - like children - pets need fresh air and exercise. They also need shelter, food, and water, of course, but that can come in good outdoor housing, too.

Wherever, just love your pets and treat them well.



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