OPINION: Cold weather isn't fit for man and beast, one has to go

By Marty Russell/NEMS Daily Journal

Anyone know what the freezing point of a cat is? How about a dog? I’ve searched the Internet all morning trying to find an answer to those questions without much luck.
About the only advice I keep running across is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets even though cats’ and dogs’ normal body temperature is slightly higher than ours, usually in the 102-degree range.
I should know the answer to that question because I once did a story about someone leaving a litter of puppies outside the animal shelter in cold weather and they froze to death. I remember that story well because it got me into hot water with my editor at the time, Ginna Parsons, when I named the piece “pupsicles.” Ginna, a conscientious pet owner, failed to see the humor.
I’m asking because, despite it being colder than a witch’s, er, freezer outside, I’m just about ready to toss my three cats and two dogs out into it. Oh, I wouldn’t be cruel about it. I’d prepare them for it first by telling the dogs to imagine that they’re huskies getting ready for the Iditarod and convincing the cats that they’re snow leopards. Then I’d throw them out.
Now, before you call the animal rights people on me and have me brought up on cruelty charges, listen to my side of the story. Except for the occasional holiday get-together, I’ve been stuck home alone for the past few weeks since the fall semester ended here at Ole Miss. With my wife at work all day, it’s just been me and the dogs and the cats around the house most of the time, and it’s getting to the point where one of us has got to go.
Cabin fever doesn’t even begin to describe the situation, especially since this arctic cold front settled in on top of the region making any outdoor activity for man or beast short and downright painful. But try explaining meteorology, global warming, El Nino and hypothermia to a bunch of dogs and cats. You might as well be lecturing them on euclidean geometry.
They have shorter memories than most voters. It doesn’t occur to them that, just because the last time they went outside, usually only five minutes earlier, they almost froze their tails off. They don’t remember that. All they remember is that they’ve been inside for five minutes so it must be time to go out again. And they can’t even get organized so that they all go out and come in together. That results in my having to get up a zillion times a day to play doorman. As one goes out, another comes in ad infinitum all day long.
And they’re lousy about tipping.
So come on warmer weather, and by warmer I mean anything above freezing. Otherwise I may have to lock the dogs and cats in the house and move outside myself.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.

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