As much as Our Best Friend loves winter, I hate it. We came home two Mondays ago (the 6th) from a short trip out-of-town, only to be caught in a blizzard unforseen by expert meteorologists (2-4 cm predicted– 32 dumped). OBF has barely been out of the house since we got back. In the summer he only runs out of the yard when he sees a squirrel (let’s clarify– a live one); in the winter, he spends much time racing across the hill behind our house that runs almost the length of the street. He can only run one house to the east before hitting a fence (and that one has a small gap), but I’m not sure how far west he can get. I think it’s three houses, but it could be Oregon.
Of course (let’s all say it together),the less exercise he gets, the greater the pent-up energy, and the more prone he is to bolting. I try to make the kids play with him in the back yard, but he insists on stealing their mittens, chewing their sled, and basically losing all control. On Sunday he tried to eat their snowman. He isn’t out there with them five minutes before they shove him back inside.
I hate the cold, I hate the snow, I hate the wet. But yesterday, my conscience finally kicked in and we took him to the park. I picked a great day for it. The temperature had risen overnight, turning the snow to rain. The west side of the park was one big snow-covered slush puddle, which we all discovered by soaking our feet in it accidentally. (Another lesson I’ve learned over the years, it doesn’t matter what the box says, the salesperson says, the website says, or what materials are used: there is no such thing as a waterproof boot.)
I had two of my girls and one of their friends. The park was empty except for a toy schnauzer and a black lab. Not surprising, given the wind, the windchill, and the ice pellets blowing in your face. I told the girls to go in the bus shelter if they got too cold. As the black lab was also seeking shelter, the Middle Child and her friend were happy to do so. The Youngest, in spite of her lack of snow pants, insisted on running through the park with Our Best Friend. Then they all took turns running with OBF and getting kisses from the lab.
It was obvious that OBF needs “out” in the winter even more than he needs it in summer. He galloped through the park, back and forth, ears flat to his head, clearly in his doggie element. I always think of him as a German shepherd mix, but in the winter, the husky/malamute comes out, and he turns from a herding dog to a snow dog. I just turn into an icicle. If he has dreams of the Iditarod, he’d better find himself a new owner. Winter hasn’t officially arrived (as in the winter solstice), but I’m already dreaming of spring.