The Life of a Backyard Dog

The Chained Life

Dogs can live on just food and water. But to be happy, dogs need exercise and daily love and attention from their Guardians. Imagine being chained in the backyard year after year. You watch the back door hoping someone will come out to play with you. No one ever does. Chaining is a widespread practice and – as with many historical injustices – this may cause people to assume it is acceptable. You couldn’t invent a worse punishment for a dog than keeping them permanently chained. Forcing a dog to live alone outside goes against their two most basic instincts, the need for a pack and for a den. Dogs are highly social animals. Thousands of years ago people and dogs lived in small groups with a cave or den for shelter. Today domesticated dogs no longer have packs of other dogs to live with, so they need human companionship or “surrogate packs”. Chaining, by definition, keeps a dog in solitary confinement, continually thwarting their instinct to be with other animals or with its human pack.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, dogs are naturally social beings that thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive. Dogs chained for even a few weeks begin to show problems. The chained dog is continually frustrated by having their movements restricted. According to the Humane Society’s research, dogs housed in the greatest degree of social isolation spend the most time moving, show the greatest number of bizarre movements, and spend the most time vocalizing. They never get the chance to become well-behaved dogs.

Fight or Flight

As one would expect, these dogs often become aggressive and pose a threat to neighbours. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.


In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs’ constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain. Dogs’ chains can become entangled with other objects, which can choke or strangle the dogs to death.

Easy Prey

In addition to the physical and psychological damage wrought by continuous chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects. A chained animal may suffer harassment and teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from insects, and, in the worst cases, attacks by other animals. Chained dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale to research institutions or to be used as training fodder for organized animal fights.

Lack of Care

Chained dogs have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in a single confined area. Guardians who chain their dogs are also less likely to clean the area. Although there may have once been grass in an area of confinement, it is usually so beaten down by the dog’s pacing that the ground consists of nothing but dirt or mud.

Rarely does a chained dog receive sufficient care. People who keep their dogs constantly tied outside may rationalize that they are spending time with them, yet it is rarely quality or significant time, particularly in very hot or inclement weather. Chained dogs suffer from sporadic feedings, overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care, and extreme temperatures. During snow storms, these dogs often have little or no access to shelter. During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun. What’s more, because their often neurotic behavior makes them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given even minimal affection. Backyard dogs may become “part of the scenery” and can be easily ignored by their Guardians. Under the best of circumstances, the backyard dog gets a bowl of food and water, a quick pat on the head and a few minutes of contact with another living being, only to return to solitary confinement when their Guardian leaves.

Chaining is the most frequent type of abuse humane officers investigate. Several municipalities in the United States have outlawed the continual chaining of dogs, and have alleviated much suffering by doing so. Dogs can offer people the gift of steadfast devotion, abiding love and joyful companionship. Those people who cannot accept and return these gifts in kind should not get a dog, lest they suffer the life of a sad, lonely, bewildered backyard dog.

If you know of a backyard dog that is suffering, please contact your local Humane Society, SPCA or animal protection agency

Fish Are Sentient and Emotional Beings and Clearly Feel Pain

Marc Bekoff Ph.D.Animal Emotions
Psychology Today

Fish deserve better treatment based on data on their emotional lives.

Posted Jun 19, 2014

I always love it when scientific researchers provide solid empirical data on the cognitive and emotional lives of nonhuman animals (animals) that some take to be a “surprise” because in their (uninformed) opinion “this just can’t be so.” I recently wrote about this sort of surprise in an essay called “The Emotional Lives of Crayfish: Stress and Anxiety.” And, now, Culum Brown(link is external), a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has published a review paper in the journal Animal Cognition titled “Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics(link is external)” that clearly shows that fish are sentient and emotional beings and clearly feel pain in much the same way that humans do. The abstract of this significant essay available only to subscribers reads as follows:

Fish are one of the most highly utilised vertebrate taxa by humans; they are harvested from wild stocks as part of global fishing industries, grown under intensive aquaculture conditions, are the most common pet and are widely used for scientific research. But fish are seldom afforded the same level of compassion or welfare as warm-blooded vertebrates. Part of the problem is the large gap between people’s perception of fishintelligence and the scientific reality. This is an important issue because public perception guidesgovernment policy. The perception of an animal’s intelligence often drives our decision whether or not to include them in our moral circle. From a welfare perspective, most researchers would suggest that if an animal is sentient, then it can most likely suffer and should therefore be offered some form of formal protection. There has been a debate about fish welfare for decades which centres on the question of whether they are sentient or conscious. The implications for affording the same level of protection to fish as other vertebrates are great, not least because of fishing-related industries. Here, I review the current state of knowledge of fish cognition starting with theirsensory perception and moving on to cognition. The review reveals that fish perception and cognitive abilities often match or exceed other vertebrates. A review of the evidence for pain perception strongly suggests that fish experience pain in a manner similar to the rest of the vertebrates. Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate.

Professor Brown’s findings, consistent with the excellent research of Victoria Braithwaite (see this and this) are reviewed all over the web and this essay called “Fish have feelings too: Expert claims creatures experience pain in the same way humans do – and should be treated better(link is external)” nicely captures the essence of his review. Some snippets that should entice you to read the full essay include: 

They [fish] develop cultural traditions and can even recognize themselves and othersThey also show signs of Machiavellian intelligence, such as cooperation and reconciliationProfessor Brown said the primary senses of the fish are “just as good” and in some cases better than that of humans.The level of mental complexity that fish display is on a par with most other vertebrates, while there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans.

Fish should be included in our moral circle

Professor Brown also noted that, “Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate … We should therefore include fish in our “moral circle” and afford them the protection they deserve.”

In her very interesting book called Do Fish Feel Pain?(link is external) Dr. Braithwaite concluded, “I have argued that there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals — and more than there is for human neonates and preterm babies.” (page 153).

It’s high time that use what we know on behalf of fish and other animals who are used and abused in the countless billions. Fish clearly are not things nor disposable objects, but rather sentient and feeling beings, a point stressed in Farm Sanctuary’s “Someone, Not Something (” project. 


Brown, C. (2014). Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics(link is external). Animal Cognition. DOI 10.1007/s10071-014-0761-0.
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Will Anonymous Escalate Their Cyber Attacks in Japan?

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Patience is running thin with the continuation of the horrific slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and with Japan’s stubbornly arrogant refusal to abide with international laws protecting whales.

For years, there has been an unspoken rule that actions to oppose the slaughter of dolphins should be focused on the dolphin killers themselves in Taiji.

For this reason some groups have spoken out against boycotts of Japanese products on the grounds that the people of Japan should not be blamed for what a handful of murderous thugs in Taiji are doing or what the whale killing criminals from the ICR (Institute for Cetacean (bogus) Research) are doing in the Southern Ocean.

The problem is that the Japanese media not only supports the slaughter, they actively suppress any information on the killing. The Japanese government does actively support the slaughter and target individuals who oppose the killing with harassment and persecution. The Japanese public are either unaware, support the killing, or simply don’t care.

Now it appears that the patience of some has reached its limit. The group Anonymous has begun to target Japanese media and Japanese business, disrupting and shutting down websites

The town of Taiji’s website was hit September and again on Oct. 6, Oct. 17 and Oct. 21. The Taiji Whale Museum was hit on November 3rd.

Nobuhiro Tsuji, a security expert at Softbank Technology Corp. who monitors Anonymous activities, said cyber-attacks against entities related to whale and dolphin hunting got under way in 2013. “The attacks began with opposition to the whale hunt, but organizations that have nothing to do with it have been targeted now,” he said. “Now, it is not surprising for any Japanese website to come under attack.”

And for the first time Japanese media sites are under attack. The Japan News on Oct. 9. The Mainichi Shimbun on Nov. 4 and The Nihon Keizai Shimbun on November 10th became targets.

I have no idea who Anonymous is or how or why they are able to attack websites in Japan but I can certainly understand why people are motivated to escalate opposition to the continued massacre of dolphins and whales.

Perhaps by expanding the cyber attacks, more and more Japanese people will become aware of how a small group of murderous and greedy thugs in Taiji are bringing international shame down upon the people of Japan.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has opposed illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean and the brutal slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and we have done so in a non-violent manner. We have never caused a single injury.

As a result, the Japanese government has led a retaliation against Sea Shepherd. Perhaps it’s time for a different and more effective approach.

Perhaps the Japanese government will understand just how restrained Sea Shepherd has been in our opposition to the killings if they are now faced with attacks from Anonymous, a group they can’t retaliate against because they have no idea who they are or where they are.

I certainly have no idea who Anonymous are, where they are, and what they do is way beyond my technical abilities and understanding but I think I am ready to applaud their intervention.

This horrifically brutal slaughter must end in Taiji and Japan’s continued illegal invasion of the Southern Ocean must end and if not, there should be a cost for all of Japan for ignoring, condoning, supporting and enabling the cetaceans killers of Taiji and the Southern Ocean.

How much is the dolphin and illegal whale killing worth to Japan? How much damage will be done before Japan puts an end to the killing? Or will they continue to do so in the face of all opposition in order to defend the nation’s honor and in so doing allow the Taiji thugs and outlaw whalers to define what honour is for modern day Japan?


Dolphins sound just like little children playing

“Murmurs of Ocean” by Marcelo A. Rodríguez (Google Play • AmazonMP3 • eMusic)


Fox baby skinned still alive (graphic)

Baby Fox still alive after being skinned alive


I want to live. I don’t want to die.

They took me from my home. I’m so afraid.

I cry, but no one hears me.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

They put me in a cage and lock the prison gate.

I plead, but they won’t help me.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

They tie a rope around my neck.

Drag my trembling body from the cage.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

They throw me to the ground.

They beat me like they hate me.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

My body aches in pain.

Their knife rips through my skin.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

Shivering, I am so cold.

They throw me naked in the trash.

I don’t know why.

I want to live. I don’t want to die.

I cry, but no one will save me.

I take my last breath.

And ask God why.

© Kathleen Lowson. All Rights Reserved.