Friday, February 15, 2008

Dogs don't like crunchy snow...

Earlier this week we had some rather strange winter weather. Following deposition of a few inches of light, fluffy snow, we had several hours of sleet and freezing rain, covering our winter wonderland with a thin crust of ice and leaving the yard with a couple of inches of snow capped with a thin layer of ice that easily breaks. For most northern creatures, this is but a minor inconvenience observed from time to time in the frozen tundra of upstate New York. For our 12-pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, however, few things in life (with the exception of squirrels, tennis balls, and remote controls) instill more fear. In case you're thinking my dog's a wuss, please keep in mind, the squirrels in our neighborhood are rather fierce, many of them sporting tattoos and wearing leather chaps.

As man of the house, it's typically my job to take the dog out first thing in the morning (or so Mrs. Beagle has led me to believe). We have it down to a routine. Alarm goes off, I bundle up, call the dog, and we both stumble/trip/fall down the stairs and out the back door. She does her thing, then I return indoors for a nice hot shower, while she cuddles up with Mrs. Beagle before the second alarm clock goes off. Crunchy snow, however, is a daunting obstacle. Little 12 pound dogs think they can walk on it, get a few steps, then watch a leg spontaneously sink three or four inches while the remainder of the dog splays across the ice. Given the temperature of ice is somewhere below 32°F, it doesn't seem to be a pleasant experience.

Cricket, being a dog of reasonable intelligence (tempering our expectations based on size, of course), realized after her first trip outside in the crunchy snow several days ago that the great outdoors was no longer her friend. This has caused a remarkable improvement in her capacity to "hold it." The next morning when the alarm went off she burrowed herself to the foot of the bed under the covers in a desperate attempt to hide from her destiny. Despite her best attempts, however, nature eventually won and the very full, nearly bursting dog finally found relief by learning to navigate through the treacherous outdoor terrain by staying in tire tracks.

This morning in my delirium, however, I took her out back. No tire tracks. She was hesitant, so I finally placed her in the snow in an area that had been 'de-crunched' by my wanderings over the past couple days. She did her thing, but had to figure out how to get back in the house, as I left her in her island of 'de-crunched' snow and was watching through the window from the much more pleasant indoors. This would be a true test of courage. Would this 12-pound wet nosed quadruped sit and shiver in the middle of the yard, looking pitiful and hoping for salvation from an external source, or would she brave the fearsome crunchy snow and make her way back to the porch and up the steps into the house? Initially she opted for the former, but as help did not arrive, tension mounted.

Cricket weighed her options further, and confronted her challenge head on. Valiantly she ventured a paw forward, testing her weight on the icy layer, pulling it back. Analyzing the situation, she tested the ice again. Gathering her courage, the daring little dog took another step, and another. She was doing it. Our fuzzy hero was almost to the patio when it happened -- all four paws sunk into the snow at once and she landed with a muffled thud and minor squeak, flat on her stomach on the ice. But the Cricket remained undaunted. Boldly pulling herself out of the holes in the frosty snow, she made a dash for the stairs and scrambled up the steps to safety, snagging her treat on the way as she raced back upstairs to the comfort of sheets, comforters, and a flannel blanket.

We all have days littered with crunchy snow. Here's to the courage to venture forward, pick ourselves up off the ice when we fall through, and continue through our challenges until we receive our rewards and return to comfortable, safe territory.

Late-Breaking Update: Mrs. Beagle reports that upon taking Cricket out again later in the morning, Cricket, with but a modicum of initial hesitation, had no issues in again venturing out onto the crunchy snow. The fear has been conquered!

1 comment:

Tom Stormcrowe and Crazylady said...

You've definitely got a cute dog there.....

Best of luck in your Tour de Cure effort as well. :D Thanks for the visit.