Street Orphans

Street Orphans

In the South, there are house dogs and yard dogs. I’m not a big fan of yard dogs. I hate seeing dogs on a chain in a back yard, and I truly feel that those dogs begin to harbor aggression after a while. Yes, it makes no sense to let dogs run free, but if you have a dog, aren’t you responsible for giving it love and care and making sure it’s healthy and safe from the elements? Yes, Izzy goes out in the yard occasionally, and when he does, he’s tied up (because he does the fa-la-la-I’m-free! thing when he’s off leash and he’s too little for cars to see when he zips across the street — giving me heart attacks). But when you leave a dog outside day and night, simply giving it water and food, that doesn’t work for me.

Yesterday, when Izzy and I walked, a clownish black Lab raced up to greet us, large pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. He was wet and obviously wanted some water, so I knew he’d been outside for most of the day since it had been raining. And he was young and wanted to play. Suddenly I realized he was Spike, the black Lab that lives around the corner from me — in the back yard on a chain. He’s been there since he “moved in” when he was quite little and quite scared. Occasionally, Izzy goes back there to play for a few moments (when I’m brave enough to let him off the leash), but other than that, Spike sees no one, doesn’t play, doesn’t get to walk the neighborhood, and doesn’t have any shelter other than the trees overhead.

His newly-found freedom was obviously an aphrodisiac for him last night. He hopped over Izzy, did the puppy-bow, raced alongside us, rolled down the grass, and generally looked — plain and simple — happy!

We worked with one of the guys on the street to try to get Spike back to his yard, but he was not interested. I think he rather likes being one of the Street Orphans, those dogs who race freely up and down the streets of our little town.

Can’t say that I blame him!


  1. Can’t blame him either. I lived in Norfolk, Va for about a year and a half and dogs left outside was quite common. I was not used to it at all, and I think this only does a disservice to the poor dog. Dogs are social animals and leaving them out chain to a tree, junk, etc., is no way to treat such beautiful animals. I believe that if you are not responsible enough to take care of a dog, then this dog would be better off somewhere else. I enjoy the South, but more education needs to take place in order to change the way people look at dogs.


    1. I agree that leaving dogs out on chains not only does a disservice to the dog but also proves that the human is not responsible enough to care for the animal. I’m not sure that this is a “Southern thing” (philosophy wise) but that it is done because some people believe that animals don’t belong in the house. It’s one thing to put a dog outside for a few hours and to have a dog house built for that purpose (or some kind of shelter). It’s another to leave the dog out there for its entire life. It makes me sad to see it happen, especially when the dog is a friendly goofy puppy like the Lab I described in the post.


      1. You are right, my mistake and my apology. This is not a Southern thing and on that you are correct. The reason why I said that was because I have seen dogs outside much more often in the south than in the north. I am from Ecuador, and when I was a kid our dogs lived in the house with us. My grandmother was crazy about animals in general, but I also saw dogs left outside to live their lives “guarding” the house. Education, regardless of whether is here or in Ecuador, is always necessary in order to change the way people see dogs. Yes, if you have a dog, be responsible and do right by your dog.


  2. Spike’s story is heartbreaking, and all too common. I hate to see a dog chained in a yard. I really wish it were against the law to do so. Dogs are such social creatures; they long for company and interaction. To deprive them of this by chaining them in a yard is inhumane.


    1. You’re right, Miranda. It breaks my heart, especially since both dogs I mentioned are starved for human affection. They’re thrilled to be able to run and play, but what they want most is that connection with human beings. I wish it were against the law, but unfortunately, it’s just the opposite. The law is to keep dogs on leashes and/or chains. I’ve tried to rouse interest in a dog park here, but I think that most people believe that because we’re in a fairly rural area, there are plenty of open spaces where dogs can run. Not the case.


  3. It’s very upsetting when you see or hear of dogs being neglected. Our dog lives in the backyard however he’s not tied up. We have a large backyard so he’s able to explore etc. He is allowed inside however he has to be on his mat or with us when he is. We also take him for walks and to his “grandparents” because they live on a farm and he has a lot of fun running around and playing with their dogs.
    I love sitting and reading while he sits on my legs and sleeps. It’s so sweet! I have to put him outside when i clean the house though because he’s scared of the vacuum cleaner!


    1. You’re right. My heart breaks when I see the dogs on chains in backyards. The dog across the street from me had to have an operation because the harness he wore cut right through his skin. I swear he “cries” when he’s out there.

      P.S. Izzy’s afraid of the vacuum cleaner, too, but he hates the carpet washer even more — maybe because it’s larger 🙂


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