Winter weather can be fun – a change of pace and a change in activities for both you and your dogs.
My dogs and I love to play out in the back field. When the snow’s deep, I’m out there with snowshoes, and King, Lily, and Annie follow in my wake, the tracks making it possible to navigate the too-deep-for-walking snow.
On a bright, sunny, blue-skied day, though temperatures are in the low teens, without a wind, the trio could stay outside enjoying the change of pace – hunting is lots of fun for them in the winter. Squirrels scampering about are easier to spot against the crisp white snow.
This past week, though, winds have been sweeping across the fields and hills, with temperatures dropping way below zero.
Before Lily realized how cold things were up there on her hunting hill, she had refused to come in with King and Annie when called. She insisted on maintaining her position way back tucked into the woods. I have to admit, I figured she was pretty well protected back there and was fine for awhile.
That turned into an hour. I had forgotten Lily was outside. I started calling her to come in, offering her favorite Cookies!, but no Lily. I spotted her orange fleece neckband through the undergrowth. She was there, sitting exactly as she was when she first went out, but she wasn’t budging. I threw on high boots, down jacket, hat and mittens and headed out to the back. When Lily saw me approaching, she tried hobbling toward me, lifting one front leg, then the other. Then, she started dragging her rear, her back paws too frozen to stand on. Reaching her, I began to hold her paws in my hands. With this, she gave a leap and headed toward the side barn door. Happy to be inside, she got her Cookies!, then joined her brother and sister by the hearth.
Temperatures have remained below zero through the night and single digits during the day.
Going outside for King, Lily and Annie is now something they avoid. Beside the necessary need to go out to do business, they’re right back inside, huddled together on the couch or lying by the fire.
Temperature changes – both too hot and too cold – are something to watch out for with our dogs and other animals. Even though we humans love to take walks in the summer heat and the winter cold, doesn’t mean those temps can be tolerated by animals. Now, King has to be pushed out to do his business. Annie rushes out, gets it done, and heads right back in. Lily halts a moment and surveys the field and hills, but once reminded, gets the business done and heads in. We’ve compromised by doing multiple short trips outside, rather than just staying outside. Lily now realizes that she gets more Cookies! this way!