If pets can’t come inside, they need warmth

The rustling and scratching was a subtle hint, but the dog standing still as a statue, nose pressed to the front of the drawer was an undeniable give-away.

Dog shooed away and sulking anxiously in the corner, the opened drawer seemed to be full of festive holiday confetti — a far cry from the red and green baking cups that should have been neatly stacked inside.

A little digging, however, uncovered just that; a single stack of fluted red paper cups under the mountain of shreds.

And ingeniously tucked inside the cup squirmed six newborn mice.

There is necessity and there is heartless and between them spans a dilemma.

Said dilemma — prefaced on the fact that helpless babies or not, they simply couldn’t live in a kitchen drawer — had a heavy “how” component that led to the festive nest being covered back up and the drawer closed until the path was clear.

Sure, there was disgust at the unknown, but also a little relief the next time the drawer was opened and the nest sat empty, pointing to a hasty evacuation of the discovered nest and what had to have been an exhausting feat for momma mouse, who succeeded in hiding them much better the second time around.

You can’t blame them.

When winter turns brutal, the cold isn’t the only thing you end up fighting to keep out.

If it lives, it seeks warmth, from mice and squirrels that manage to squeeze through the smallest crevices to frosty birds who cling to chimney bricks, staring through windows with a look of longing.

Going from tropical temperatures to the teens in the space of a few hours like we have sure makes the balmy snow storm before Thanksgiving seem like a non-event in hindsight.

Unfortunately, the wild things will have to figure it out, doomed to be evicted if they do find a way into a warm home.

It makes for a rough time because even if they can find shelter from the wind and snow, the cold is still powerful enough to freeze whatever it touches, including the living.

And the hunger and thirst will last as long as the weather, what with every drop of liquid frozen and undrinkable and food sources dying off or absent altogether.

Surviving is what they do best, however, and a good many wild things will find their way, uncomfortably but successfully, and for the most part, they will do it without human interference.

Our pets, though, may not be so lucky.

Not only do they depend on us for food, water and shelter, we often confine them to yards and pens, which can mean they have no way to escape the weather.

Ears, tails, toes and noses can fall to frostbite in the space of minutes, and, just as a five gallon bucket of water can freeze into a solid block of ice in a couple of hours, so too can a 20-pound dog or cat with no external heat.

Find a way to make it work — in the house, the garage or the shed, but if they can’t come inside, they absolutely have to have warmth.

Heat lamps and electrical heat sources can pose a dangerous fire risk and should be used with caution but there are other ways.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune — shelter of some kind is a must, thick bedding such as hay, straw, wood shavings, blankets or towels to insulate and jugs filled with hot water and wrapped in towels to radiate heat — so very easy and affordable, there simply is no excuse.

 Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: insearchofponies@gmail.com or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com


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