Monday, December 27, 2010

Small Dog Lessons

Perhaps you've heard, it's snowing.

I did all the right things but at some point you learn a lesson no matter what. I knew the worst of the storm was going to be between 4pm and 3am so I took the dog out for a longish walk in the few inches of snow at around 2:30. We went to the park, we toodled all around, he was fine, I fell on my face and when he shivered we went home (pictured, nearly home). Easy peasy.

The plan was to walk him again at 11, our last pee of the night unavoidably in the thick of things. I have been falling asleep on the couch all day since my Christmas sort of accidentally went from 6:15am to 2:30am on the 26th. But I rallied to the sounds of Walter Bishop playing a crazy king in one of the LotR movies at around 12:30. I don't believe the story I'm about to tell you would have been much different if I'd woken up 90 minutes earlier.

Big sweater, jeans, boots, long jacket, hat and hood for me. Sweater, jacket, harness, long leash for the dog. Didn't look out the window to assess the challenges ahead. Warned the dog verbally that this would be the worst of it, I promised. Out we went.

Well, to the lobby we went. At which point I saw that the front door was propped open. By snow. The drift out front is as high as my thighs at its highest. I headed out part way into it to see if the dog would follow. A lot of dogs surf the drifts so I had to let him make his own choices. He cowered and backed into the lobby. Really, who could blame him, it was blowing and making that haunting noise and the flakes were like weensy little ice daggers. So I picked him up and shimmied around the door to the lowest drift point and carried him over which is, I have to note, a fuck of a lot harder than it sounds. I know he's little but I sunk up to my knees and had trouble freeing my legs. We didn't fall, though!

Away from the drift I set him down. Trying not to baby him. He's smart, though, so he walked in my wake which helped keep the blowing snow from blinding him and made it easier for him to walk. We got to the security booth and all four doors were basically propped about an inch open by snow. He walked in fine, shook and flat refused to walk out the back door. In the process of encouraging, then hefting him I must have kicked a paw or let the door boot his butt because the scream he let out will haunt my dreams. He wasn't hurt, I promise.

Out the door I found the next flat place to set him down. Well, flatter place. He rallied and walked. That side of the building has scaffolding up so we were some protected but not by much. Still he could walk comfortably and pee. We got to the corner and, despite a few more feet of scaffolding, that side was much taller. He continued in my wake and even conquered a small drift then, out from under protection, he went back to letting me break the path. I got the hint and took smaller steps so he'd have a better time. I finally had to pick him up again for the last few feet to the corner

At the next corner you're at the big boulevard of a street. The wind whips up and down between tall buildings made harsher by our proximity to the water. The drifts were much worse. I saw someone walking in the street but by my, still much blinded, calculations she wasn't a hell of a lot better off. I had time to evaluate that because the sidewalk was clear in a little patch around the fire call box and the pay phone and I thought the dog might pee. No, he just paced increasingly frantic circles in the cleared out place. Now, the shortest route would have been to gut it out on the boulevard but the depth was unknown and the dog wasn't going to walk any of it so I opted to lug him back to the scaffolding and walk home under that. By this time my old, fat ass was wheezing like a broken steam engine.

Dog, again, not stupid. He knows we're headed home and he knows he can pee along there so he's hauling ass and takes just one opportunity to pee. He braves the drifts into the security booth. When we get out our side into the courtyard the path I broke not 5 minutes before is gone, completely. Dog doesn't care, he forges ahead of me straight toward home. So straight toward home that when I zig to the left to go over the shorter drift to our front door he fucking bulls it right over the very tallest part and into the lobby. There's a brief moment when his weight first drops him into the middle of the drift where I see the whites of his eyes roll by but he bucks right back up. I had to just let go of the leash and let him go in on his own because he was much faster than I. I floundered in the drift and had to push myself out with my hands.

You always worry when something unexpected comes up. I still don't know this dog very well. Who's to say what will hurt him or freak him out? I try to make educated guesses and informed choices but sometimes, for instance in your first blizzard, you have to wing it. I had a sudden flash of what would have happened if Emily's illness had been the arthritis we thought it was and and not the neurological hell that killed her. I can't imagine how I'd have gotten her out to pee. But Ed's under 16 lbs and he's one tough little fucker. They have that last in common. Still I was afraid that he'd been somewhat traumatized by the experience.

Inside he let me take off the coat, harness and leash. Then he took off to rub the melted snow off his face by rubbing it along the sides of the couch. Before I even had time to peel off my sweater and soaked jeans he'd brought me a ball and wanted to play fetch.

I think he's going to recover.


  1. dogs are tougher than you think :-)

  2. i love little eddie and the big snowdrifts. i mean, i love the pics and the post. i don't envy you two having to go out in them so often.