2018-01-11 / Life in Leelanau

Keeping Cozy

Peninsula pets and farm animals rely on their owners for warmth in winter
By Jen Murphy
Of The Enterprise staff


GUILLAUME HAZAEL MASSIEUX and his dogs, Athena and Jasmine, are reunited after the dogs escaped the family’s fenced-in yard. GUILLAUME HAZAEL MASSIEUX and his dogs, Athena and Jasmine, are reunited after the dogs escaped the family’s fenced-in yard. As temperatures fall and snow levels rise, Leelanau County residents bundle up with hats, gloves and more, but furry creatures like dogs, cats and even farm animals rely on owners to keep them warm enough through the winter.

Despite an owner’s best efforts, pets can put themselves at risk in the cold. Guillaume Hazael Massieux’s two dogs escaped from their electric-fenced yard in Maple City just as the winter weather descended on the county.

“We realized they were gone,” Hazael Massieux said. “They covered a lot of ground. They ran probably 10 miles.”

Fortunately, Hazael Massieux and his family utilized a Facebook group page aimed at county residents.

“It was amazing how the whole Facebook thing worked,” he said. “It allowed us to get in touch with people, and it allowed us to communicate with people. It’s unbelievable, the reaction.”


MARIJANE BOOMER at Still Point Farm in Empire is tasked with keeping horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats warm in the winter. MARIJANE BOOMER at Still Point Farm in Empire is tasked with keeping horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats warm in the winter. At one point, the dogs were separated from one another. The older one, Athena, was caught by someone who was looking for them after learning of their disappearance on Facebook. The younger and more skittish dog, Jasmine, ran back into the woods.

After two days, Jasmine was found, and both dogs were back at their warm home with the family.

“They actually acted sorry,” Hazael Massieux said. “It was terrifying for us. My wife and I lost sleep. It was a hard experience for us, but we all learned.”

Similar to Hazael Massieux’s dogs, Glen Arbor resident Elizabeth Morrison has a cat who likes to wander.


PIGS AT Still Point Farm enjoy some fresh air. PIGS AT Still Point Farm enjoy some fresh air. Morrison takes extra precautions with Halifax (Hallie for short) to ensure she doesn’t spend too much time outside when the weather is cold.

“We set a timer,” Morrison said. “We set it for 20 minutes. If it’s really cold, we set it for 10.”

In addition to using a timer, Morrison said she hangs a string of beads on the door as a visual reminder every time Hallie goes outside.

“She’s very funny,” Morrison said. “If we don’t get to her right away, she’ll go around to the back and paw on the screen and we will hear her.”

Once Hallie comes inside, she is towel-dried and given a treat.

Like house pets, farm animals need special care during the winter season as well. After farming and working with animals for well more than 20 years, Still Point Farm owner Marijane Boomer has cared and provided boarding for many animals. Throughout the winter months, she feeds her horses, cows and goats all the hay they can eat and all the water they can drink. Pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats also live on her farm.


ELIZABETH MORRISON’S cat, Halifax, explores a winter wonderland in Glen Arbor Township. ELIZABETH MORRISON’S cat, Halifax, explores a winter wonderland in Glen Arbor Township. Boomer believes her animals need fresh air more than anything else.

“The recipe for success is fresh air, fresh water, minerals and hay,” she said. “Fresh air keeps them healthier than being shut in the barn. Bad air does a lot more harm than fresh air. I do things differently than most, but my animals are out every day.”

Bad air can be produced by animal waste releasing ammonia in a stagnant environment.

She said her horses don’t wear blankets and the doors on the barn are kept open at all times.


GOATS AT Still Point Farm in Empire venture outside into the snow. GOATS AT Still Point Farm in Empire venture outside into the snow. “They are out of the wind, and they have the chance to be on dirt in the arena instead of ice and snow,” Boomer said. “It works musculature, so their muscles don’t get tight.”

According to State of Michigan Penal Code 328, animal owners must provide “adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species, and physical condition of the animal so as to maintain the animal in a state of good health.” Section 50 specifies shelter requirements for dogs as a residence, a suitably-sized doghouse, or a structure with sufficient insulation and ventilation.

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