While we were away on our annual trip to the Oregon coast (awesome dog friendly trip by the way), we found out that our county was in the path of yet another raging western state wild fire. Since my husband and I are both firefighters, we headed home with more than a little dread. By the time we were home it was apparent that this was the new breed of wild fire and we’d all be lucky to get out with a house standing, much less a town to work for. For an interesting change from the usual back -breaking work, we had to work really, really hard to keep our house safe as the fire roared at us from three sides. In the midst of work and yard mitigation, I evacuated our animals.
On a side note, a friend mentioned later that it was interesting to see people’s priorities so clearly laid out for all to see, as evacuees advertised to their neighbors just what exactly they held precious in life i.e. what you saw packed into their trucks and cars as they fled the danger zone.
I moved the animals several days before I had to, simply because I needed to be able to think clearly while on shift at the Fire Department, and I wanted to get the best accommodations’ for them as well. It occurred to me, as I gathered cats and chickens while watching the air tankers drop retardant, that the best advice that I could give anyone facing this type of situation was this: always move the animals that don’t come when they’re called first. Seriously, we have all hopefully learned from disasters like hurricane Katrina, that not being prepared can put your pets in harms way, if not kill them outright and that it is your responsibility to those animals, pets or livestock, to be prepared. But if you want it all to go smoothly, remember what I just said, move the difficult ones first. Yes, I kept the dogs with me while doing all this moving, on the of chance that things went bad fast, but the chickens, cats, horses and yes, the squirrel, all needed a calm head, a steady hand and a lot of patience. If the fire is licking at your heels, patience is not always readily available. We had some great people helping out in the most generous ways of all; with their time, their barns, their coops and their hearts. Because of them we were able to to our jobs with clear heads and in a small but significant way, they helped keep our valley from burning down.
Do you want to have important papers, photos and medical supplies on hand? Yes. Would you like your pet to have their regular food, their cozy, soft pet bed and a safe place to sleep? Absolutely, so I’ll say it once more; be prepared.