SURVIVE WITH YOUR K9
Thwarting the end of mankind with man’s best friend
Your once-familiar neighborhood is bathed in a morning light that can barely break through the smoke and dust in the air. The streets in all directions are littered with the rubble of buildings, burning cars, destroyed barricades and the detritus of a conflict lost. The dog sitting attentively at your feet, ears alert, eyes always scanning, suddenly springs upright and bolts to attention, pointing in the direction of an abandoned house with dark windows and a kicked-in door. His nose plies the air, and his ears twitch as if he’s hearing sounds that are well out of your range.
He turns to you with eyes filled with concern: It’s time to leave. It’s not safe here.
NO DOG LEFT BEHIND
However, having a dog is a big game-changer if you are forced to bug out after a major catastrophe or disaster, and having a dog along has a couple of downsides.
The bad news first: They eat food and drink water. Hungry dogs, even welltrained hungry dogs, will prioritize food over you and your well-being. They can be nervous and become unpredictable. So, to keep them happy and loyal, they’ll need food. And guess who has to carry it?
Dogs create waste, make lots of noise and take up space in your shelter, bug-out vehicle and on the road. On top of this, if the situation deteriorates further, your dog will be considered food for lots of people, putting him in danger—and, subsequently, you, if you feel the need to protect him. In addition, there are certain terrains (steep climbs, large piles of rubble, very sharp debris) a dog is not suited to tackle.
This being said, dogs are as much a part of some families as their children, and under no circumstances could they consider a scenario in which their dogs would be left behind, abandoned or sacrificed for the good of the group. That’s fine; no dogs left behind.
… DOGS ARE AS MUCH A PART OF SOME FAMILIES AS THEIR CHILDREN, AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES COULD THEY CONSIDER A SCENARIO IN WHICH THEIR DOGS WOULD BE LEFT BEHIND, ABANDONED OR SACRIFICED FOR THE GOOD OF THE GROUP.
A DOG’S PURPOSE
A dog’s daily life harkens back to his wolf instincts. He digs, he buries food/bones, he hides his waste and he eats solitarily. He is acutely aware of his surroundings and has a pack mentality. He sleeps in a den (if he has others with him), and his aptitude for defense is without equal in other domestic animals. A dog can be a very useful “item” to have in a survivalist’s toolbox.
Nevertheless, to be honest, a typical untrained house dog is good for two things: personal defense and companionship. A dog can be trained to do most anything, however: He can carry a canine backpack for some of his own gear or pull a sled, wagon or primitive travois. But a dog can sense your fear and get antsy and nervous if you haven’t properly trained and prepared him for a stressful situation. A nervous dog might bite, run off or bark incessantly. These are all things you want to avoid.
Every dog can bark, and every dog will defend his space against anything he deems hostile. If you are part of his pack (or vice versa), having a dog nearby can, and will, benefit you when it comes to detecting intruders, providing a stout level of protection for you and your group. Your dog will detect a visitor with his keen hearing and powerful nose long before you will.
Pay attention to your dog when your instincts tell you to. His demeanor, physical appearance and actions will change when he perceives a threat. He will stiffen up, stand taller and turn sideways against the threat. The hair on the ridge down his back will stand up. His ears will drop back, and his head will skulk low into his shoulders.
If your dog is trained to attack on command, he must also be trained to “turn off” completely on command. If you want a barking alert based on what the dog smells or hears in the distance, the dog must be trained to also stop barking and remain quiet upon direct command. It is counterintuitive in many circumstances to have continuous noise giving away your exact location for predators to zero in on.
A WARM BODY AND FRIEND
In the basest of terms, your dog can be a warm blanket. A dog’s normal body temperature is a couple of degrees higher than a human’s and, in addition to his fur coat, he makes for a warm companion on a cold night. Because dogs instinctively sleep in dens, where they take advantage of body heat to stay warm on cold nights, you can take advantage of that same thing.
Dogs have a wonderful sense of direction. They use a combination of senses and perceptions to find their way and remember where they came from. They utilize the vestibular system in their inner ear to know speed and turns, and they unconsciously count how many steps they’ve taken from one place to another.
Dogs can predict the weather (they can sense a change in barometric pressure). They are astute judges of character. And they can be used to keep children calm and distracted.
CARING FOR YOUR COMPANION
The beautiful thing about a dog is that he is ready to do anything at anytime. However, one of the bad things about a dog is that he will continue to do whatever he’s occupied with until he literally collapses.
If you insist on taking your dog with you in a bug-out scenario, you’ll have to take precautions to make sure he stays a healthy, alert and functional member of the team.
Food: Dogs are scavengers that can, and will, eat most anything they find that’s edible. That buried leftover steak is pretty tasty to a dog two weeks later. Given this, dogs can eat what you eat (and vice versa).
A DOG CAN BE TRAINED TO DO MOST ANYTHING ... HE CAN CARRY A CANINE BACKPACK FOR SOME OF HIS OWN GEAR OR PULL A SLED, WAGON OR PRIMITIVE TRAVOIS.
Even so, in order for a dog to remain heathy, he should stay on a steady diet of the same food—specifically, dog food.
If you are sheltering in place (or realize that this will be the most likely outcome), keep as much dog food on hand as you have food for yourself. The best way to store dry, kibble-variety dog food is right in the original packaging (unless you have a rodent problem; in which case, use foodgrade containers). The bag keeps the food dry and in the dark and even allows it to breathe slightly. This is important, because even dry pet food contains moisture in the form of fats and oils. In the bag, it can last up to two years.
Even better at storage is canned wet dog food. It can remain untouched for around five years before it begins to lose its nutritional value. Find out how much your dog eats and calculate how much you’ll need. If he eats two cans a day, and you are planning your survival cache for three weeks, you’ll need 42 cans, which don’t take up that much space. (The best thing about having dog food on hand is that if the times get especially rough, you can eat it, too.)
Water: Your dog drinks from the toilet and rainwater out of muddy puddles in the yard. Therefore, he must have an iron-clad stomach and be impervious to bacteria and parasites ... not necessarily.
Outdoor water sources—such as rivers, lakes and ponds—carry microscopic organisms that negatively affect your dog, just as they do you. These protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, affect the gastrointestinal systems of dogs if they are ingested. Exposure to these protozoa can cause severe diarrhea and intestinal bleeding. Healthy dogs can often carry a protozoan without showing symptoms. However, if a dog has an underlying illness, is very old or very young, or has an impaired immune system, a protozoan can be dangerous to his health.
Although the danger is not super high for dogs when drinking from natural sources, having a clean supply of water is necessary to keep them healthy. Make sure to always have a bowl of water handy so drinking from other sources is not needed.
Health: Because he can’t talk to tell you what’s wrong, to keep your dog healthy, pay special attention to his actions. If your dog is unusually lethargic, looks tired or if something just isn’t right, odds are good he has an illness. Without medical
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG WHEN YOUR INSTINCTS TELL YOU TO. HIS DEMEANOR, PHYSICAL APPEARANCE AND ACTIONS WILL CHANGE WHEN HE PERCEIVES A THREAT.
resources, it is your job to find out what it is. To keep all your bases covered, keep in your bug-out cache medical supplies specifically for dogs, including grooming supplies, flea and tick control protection, anti-worm protection, nail and teeth kits, and specialized medicines (Zymox, for example, if your dog is prone to ear infections).
Protection: Dogs get cold. They get hot. Their feet get blisters. And if you have an especially stubborn dog, you won’t notice anything is wrong until you see bloody footprints or uncontrollable chills.
Depending on your local environment and range of weather, have on hand a blanket or vest to help your dog stay warm, especially if he is single coated (such as terriers, Boxers, bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers and other short-haired dogs). Terrain can be rough on a
dog’s feet, so have boots ready if you encounter glass, hot pavement, debris or jagged ground. A dog’s eyes can get affected by the same dust, blowing sand and smoke that yours do, so a pair of dog goggles will remedy that.
Treats and Toys: Your dog might not understand what is happening, so to keep him in a semblance of normalcy, try not to change his routine and patterns too greatly. If your dog is used to a regular treat before bed or a ball in the morning, make sure those are with you. A happy dog is a healthy dog.
DOGS HAVE A WONDERFUL SENSE OF DIRECTION. THEY USE A COMBINATION OF SENSES AND PERCEPTIONS TO FIND THEIR WAY AND REMEMBER WHERE THEY CAME FROM.
Whether or not to keep a dog during uncertain times is a dilemma in itself. A dog can help you sense intruders before they have an opportunity to harm you or your family. Because people will be the greatest of threats, it makes sense to have a dog for protection. Dogs might also help you with hunting and ultimately be the most essential of tools in your arsenal for putting meat on the table ... if you’ve already trained them to do so.
On the other hand, a dog might end up competing for the same resources of food and water for survival if you have not trained him to hunt. In addition, your dog might bring unwanted diseases from fleas and ticks picked up in the wild.
If your dog is part of your permanent pack and will go to the ends of the earth with you, make sure you understand what is at stake, what you’ll need to keep him happy and safe, and how you plan to protect your dog from danger—as he tries to figure out how to protect you.