The Dog I've Always Wanted

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Walking Dogs in Winter

January 14th, 2010 · · Musings

I love walking dogs. I’m spending a lot of time doing it this winter. It gives me many opportunities to make observations and discover beauty in unexpected places, in mundane objects. Winter is beautiful but it challenges us and reminds us of our frailties. The dogs I walk are mostly invigorated by the cold and a new fall of snow is exciting to most of them. Snow banks are ripe with yellow messages that must be investigated and of course responded to in kind! Chunks of ice are marvellous crunchy snacks. Some dogs like to lick fat snowflakes out of the air as they drift down. Such delight.

Some of my dogs wear coats. Sometimes at night as I’m falling asleep all I can see behind my closed eyelids as I’m drifting off are dogs, scurrying along snowy paths in their coats. They are intent on their purpose of sniffing and peeing with a briskness they lack in warmer weather. Some of the puppies have irresistable urges to chuck themselves into snow banks and cavort in the bracing whiteness of it all. And it is invigorating for me as well. The dogs’ eagerness is contagious and I enjoy sharing it.

I have learned to dress for it, in layers. I have a glove and mitten “system”, involving multiple pairs that fit over or inside of each other. This year I spent what seemed at the time a ridiculous amount of money on a pair of boots but the investment has proven itself worth while. My feet are rarely cold even though I’m outside most of the day. I save my little packets of warmers for the days when it is really cold, -20 or colder, as I don’t want to get too soft, or too spoiled.

There is still vegetation visible in some places and the wind in storms breaks twigs and small branches off the trees. Bounty for the dogs who are stick aficionados. Snow also affords great digging possibilities and can be permitted; it isn’t a lawn in the winter,is it? This week’s big attraction has been the discarded Christmas trees that line the road side awaiting eventual collection. Most dogs need to give them a good sniff and possibly pee on them too. One enthusiastic young dog I was walking grasped a Christmas tree trunk in his mouth, already to haul it down the street; just the thing to spruce (!) up his crate. They do make me laugh, these dogs. Every walk is an adventure for them replete with new smells; life renews itself for them on a daily basis. They are not jaded or cynical as are so many of the humans of my acquaintance. They are not whining about the weather and longing for the spring or Florida. They are alive this winter. They inhabit the here and now; they are entirely present. I take a lesson from this.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 chaya // Mar 1, 2010 at 11:01 am

    i love this post

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