One of my fans brought up this topic on my facebook fan page, so I decided to elaborate a little more.
Humans have tried to keep just about every species of animal as a pet at one point or another – some more successfully than others.
For the sake of this article, the word “pet” does not refer to farm animals such as horses, pigs, sheep, etc.
Bugging out on horseback could be a very viable option for some people in certain areas, and bringing along food producing animals could also be a great idea in certain circumstances. The only “pet” that I consider being an option to bug out with would be a dog – sorry, whiskers the kitten will have to fend for himself. You only want to bring along an animal if the benefits it provides outweighs the potential problems it brings with it. Hence cats would not be worth it in my opinion – they might catch a few mice or birds, but will probably eat them before you could get to them as well as being almost impossible to keep track of them at all times. Dogs, on the other hand, are truly man’s best friend. Certain breeds are naturally more conducive to bugging out – german shepherds, labs, golden retrievers, etc, but that’s not to say that your dachshund is automatically staying home.
Now I will go into the pros and cons of bringing Fido with you once you make a decision to bug out.
1. Security. This is a big reason why we have dogs at home in the first place. Their senses of smell and hearing far outweigh our own. A dog’s sense of loyalty to its owner would cause it to attack anyone or anything that tries to harm its owner.
2. Hunters. Some dogs can be trained to track, hunt, and/or retrieve game animals giving you and additional means of acquiring your next meal.
3. Comfort. Dogs can show a lot of love to their owners. This can be an important element in your survival, especially if you have young kids that are attached to your dog. Even if it’s just you and your dog, having something to interact with during a crisis situation can help keep you sane.
1. Threat to security. Dogs bark. They could attract unwanted attention if you are trying to stay hidden from other people. This can be prevented by putting a muzzle on your dog. This also runs the risk of you not being able to take it off in time in the event you need your dog to bark/bite, or if something happens to you, then your dog will starve to death if it can’t manage to get the muzzle off.
2. Distraction. If you’re constantly focused on keeping track of where your dog is or what it’s doing, you’re less focused on the task at hand – survival. Even good dogs can stray beyond your field of vision forcing you to go looking for them. Trying to find your dog could make you miss something you would’ve normally spotted.
3. Supplies. Dogs obviously need food and water too. This means you either have to carry or find enough for the both of you. This can partially be mitigated by dog backpacks such as the Granite Gear Ruff Rider Dog Pack or the Mountainsmith Dog Pack . Try to have your dog carry as much of its own supply of food and/or water as it can. Also try to pack in your dog’s favorite chew toy or brush – dogs can get nervous/scared too, and a short break to play/comb is hair could help put it at ease.
In the end, only you can decide if bugging out with your dog is in you and your family’s best interest. It is a case by case situation depending on the individual dog and circumstances you’re in. Choosing to leave behind a pet would no doubt a hard decision, but the bottom line is this – if they’re not helping you during your bug out, they’re hurting you.