Freedom for Pets

Jul 6, 2013

Patriotic Dog
Credit Randy Son of Robert (Randy Robertson)

What does freedom mean for our pets?  Even for humans, freedom does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want.  For the animals that share our lives, we can give them freedom to enjoy their lives in safety and comfort, as our best friends and loyal companions.  And that's something worth celebrating!


 This week we celebrated the Fourth of July - Independence Day! It’s the great American holiday, with back yard barbecues, parades, patriotic music, and flags everywhere you look. It is a time when a lot of people consider the concepts of liberty and freedom, and what it really means to each of us.

This country was founded on the idea that people should be able to act freely, without restraints. That’s how the Pledge of Allegiance ends – “with Liberty and Justice for all.” And yet we have laws that restrict us. We can’t just take what doesn’t belong to us, for example. I guess that’s the “justice” part of the Pledge. So somewhere in between liberty and justice must be freedom. Should pets enjoy the same freedoms we humans value so highly?

We have a fence around our back yard. I know folks who think it’s not right to put a dog in a fenced yard, to confine it so that it can’t run all over the neighborhood as it would like to do. After all, they say, it’s a dog’s nature to run free. But when I had a dog, I’m pretty sure my neighbors appreciated the fact that she was not running loose in their yards. And there’s a city ordinance that says I must keep my dog confined or on a leash at all times. So it sounds like my dog didn’t have much freedom.

And yet, we live on a busy street. So the fence around our yard also protected her - from being injured or killed by passing cars, from coming in contact with stray animals who may be carrying disease, from dogs larger than she was who might do her harm. In that sense there was freedom INSIDE the fence in that she could be herself and play and enjoy being outdoors without the threats that posed a danger to her from outside.

Poet Robert Frost said “good fences make good neighbors.” They also make healthy pets. I’m Mindy Norton, hoping this Independence Day weekend finds you celebrating life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, safely inside the fence, when you’re speaking of pets.