Remote Homesteading With Dogs

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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I have read numerous articles published pertaining to our canine friends but rarely do I find anything written about homesteading with dogs in remote areas. Our dogs are a very important factor in our homesteading happiness and certain considerations need to be made for them. I have read articles about different breeds of dogs used as working dogs on a homestead and I have published topics on adoption, veterinary care and life with dogs. This particular topic pertains to living remote with our dogs where the hazards they face are far different than other living conditions.

As a result of one of the articles I wrote about responsible pet adoption I had a request from the owner of Rocky ’The Rocket’ Montana to include that article in a book he was writing. I was honored and happy to oblige and the book is now published as an e-book under the title of “Memoir of an Abandoned Basset Hound”, by Rocky ’The Rocket’ Montana. Is well written with its humorous and tender moments from the perspective of a rescued basset hound. The book is available by going to, if interested.

This subject is about remote living and making considerations for our canine companions within a remote living lifestyle. In the 16+ years we have lived remotely in our mountain cabin, we have observed some pet owners which have not always exercised good judgment when it comes to the safety and protection of their pets. We have predators that view dogs as an easy food source and will specifically target them. For those who falsely believe that their pet can hold its own against wild predators they should rethink that idea. Some owners allow their dogs to run loose and when that happens the chance of a dangerous encounter greatly increases. We have coyotes, lynx, bobcat, wolves, bear, mountain lion, and raptors that will prey on dogs given an opportunity. Opening the door to let your dog out to go potty and not watching them is a risky chance for a disaster. The dog can easily be distracted by a rabbit or deer and give chase never to be seen again. We heard of one pet that was stomped to death by a deer while pursuing it. We watched a doe deer chase down a coyote that had gone after her fawn landing on its back with all four hooves. It gave that coyote a good stomping and pet owners should not assume their pet has any advantage in a wild animal encounter. If not killed outright your beloved pet can also be seriously injured.

We have heard of eagles picking up small dogs and carrying them off so we choose large dogs as our companions as it is less likely they will be victims of birds of prey. We have a 1600 square foot fenced in back yard for our dogs with a fence that is 6 feet high. Even then our dogs are not allowed in the back yard without one of us being out there with them. Most remote areas have similar predators and while they only visit occasionally we prefer to not take any unnecessary chances. Hence if you choose to live in a remote area I would never recommend an outside dog or small dog. Of course there are the two legged hazards to beware of also just like in a more urban environment.

Having now listed some of the hazards I can’t imagine life without our canine friends. For us choosing large dogs with a high level of intelligence was important. Our three German Shepherd Dogs not only are very intelligent but excellent inside companions. Because they are smart they keep us entertained and constantly on our toes plus they provide us with plenty of exercise. Their senses tell us if anything is prowling around our home and they are far more alert than we are. We trust their keen instincts completely. They are excellent family members and their virtues are too many to count. I simply do not understand why some people keep their dog outside as ours keep us laughing and entertained each day and if they were outside we would miss all their wonderful personality traits coupled with their love and companionship.

When choosing a lifestyle as we have done it is important to make sure there is proper veterinary care available. Our veterinarian is about one hour away from where we live. In contrast those who live in cities usually have a wide choice of veterinary care plus specialists that can deal with more specific ailments or injury. Our closest veterinarian specialist is a three hour drive away from us. We feel fortunate to have quality veterinary care with vets that provide a broad range of care available. Having a good first aid book on hand in case of an unforeseen accident is equally valuable.

Canine companionship is priceless when homesteading remotely and choosing the right dog is equally important. Without offending Rocky mentioned above I have had two basset hounds in my lifetime and neither would have been suited for remote living. They spent most of their time sleeping and laying around. As for protection and an early warning system they would have lacked those needed skills. An intruded or predator would more than likely trip over them before they would warn us of any potential hazard. A rabbit crossing the yard would give them a scent to relentlessly pursue. Having more active and territorial inclined dogs is more suitable for our lifestyle. Matching dogs to the specific environment they will live in is a major decision. Our three are terrific indoor companions that are perfect for our lifestyle and remote living. I simply can’t imagine living as we do without canine companionship. Having three indoor companions is a lot of work but that is nothing in comparison to what we receive in return in the form of love and affection.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and mountain living with their dogs go to:

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