White Dog, Nuka and I were pondering the deep freeze that gave us a high of only 9 degrees F today when Quinn and Puff came galloping in to join us. They had just come from outdoors and radiated cold and their paws were icy. They tried to hunker in between us for warmth. They had only been out for a few minutes.
We had been discussing two incidents of the morning: a neighbor acquaintance sharing on FB his story of a homeless man knocking on his door this morning shivering and coatless. Neal made him come inside but the man would not stay. Finally the homeless man agreed to take an old hat and bath towel...and let Neal drive him to the University ER, where homeless are allowed to sit in the lobby during bad weather. Second was the discovery of a small wren that had frozen to death and was lying in our yard. The White Dogs did not bother the corpse but were agitated when one of the neighborhood outdoor cats came in and carried it off.
"Where do those without homes go when it is so bitterly cold that their lives are in danger?" White Dog asked. Quinn responded; "Street people and pets huddle in doorways or under cars or in empty buildings. They never really get warm and they usually don't have enough to eat to generate much body heat and they are ill clothed as well. When I was a street dog, I met a lot of homeless ones who lived subject the elements even in LA. It was horrible and made them old and sick and took a terrible toll on the length of their life cycle."
"In this weather we should remember our good fortune," Puff (who had lived as an outdoor dog in the bitter Kansas winters) added. We should also understand that frostbite, sickness, and even death are real concerns for thousands without warmth or shelter or a safe home. Even in the natural world, temperatures and winds as extreme as we are facing in most of the country mean water sources are frozen and access to seeds and shoots is buried.
It is our most fervent hope that someday no creature will be left out in the cold; hungry and freezing, unsafe and fearful, alone and unloved. But until that day comes, please leave out a bowl of kibble or hang a birdfeeder, give a pair of socks to a street person and her dog (can be used as mittens, socks, booties, ear protectors), donate blankets to shelters...even the tiniest action makes a big difference. And ask the Universe to wrap those in need with its protective warmth.