Having a small dog in a cold climate is a challenge. Having a small dog who hates everything to do with winter in a cold climate is a battle of wills – which I always end up losing.
Oscar is unabashedly and unrepentantly, an unCanadian dog. He despises hockey (the Maple Leafs suck!), turns up his nose at being polite, and I’m pretty sure he’s prejudiced against moose, beavers and Canadian Geese. (NOTE: I get the dislike of our national bird – those buggers leave their cylindrical droppings everywhere. Seriously… EVERYWHERE!) But what makes him the least Canadian dog I know is his unbridled distaste of snow.
In recent days, we’ve been blessed with a heavy blanket of snow. And every time it snows, Oscar is somehow stunned. Even after living his whole life in Canada, he is shocked and amazed at its appearance on our Canadian urban tundra. After the first snow fall, I open the door, and he turns to me in amazement as if to say: “Hooman, the white, fluffy substance that makes my paws cold… what it is? Surely, you do not mean me to go out in these deplorable conditions? No… I will not tread out of doors today. I will withhold my doggy goods, which you treasure amongst all things, until the spring. Good day to you.”
Without fail, I can expect the following winter rituals to befall our household:
- He’s low to the ground. And he’s furry. Which means he is a Swiffer Sweeper for the snow, salt and slush. After the first few steps outside on a snow, he is covered in something I don’t want in the house. Even if he has on a coat or sweater, the bulk of his belly is exposed – it’s like a mullet jacket, when you think about it. Frankly, I don’t blame him for not wanting to go outside in the snow. If I had to go for a walk in a coat that covered my back and required me to wear a bikini top up front, I’d be pretty pissed too.
- Paws must be covered at all times. He won’t take two steps out in the snow before looking at me, raised paw, imploring me with those puppy dog eyes: “WHY!?!” Before this year, getting Oscar’s Pawz boots on was torture for both of us. I had so much trouble putting them on – seriously, it took more time to put them on than the entire time we spent outside. But now I’ve got the Paws Jawz and the process is easy-peasy. I can’t imagine going through another winter chasing after Oscar, trying to get those damn booties on.
- Snowdrifts – Oscar’s winter nemesis. Once the snow plow goes by, it leaves an towering obstacle in Oscar’s path… a Mount Everest on every street corner. Since he can’t get over them, I have to pick him up, climb the drift and deposit him on the other side of the road. It’s my arm workout for the day. You should see my pipes!
- Refusal to walk altogether. There are winter days, especially went the wind is blowing fiercely, Oscar won’t move from his spot. We’ll be walking along, and suddenly, he’s dead weight. Nothing will entice him to unplant his butt from the sidewalk. I have two choices: Implore and gently tug the leash; or pick him up to finish the walk. Spoiler alert: I always end up with choice number two. Always. So the dog walk ends up being an Amy walk, with amused onlookers making witty comments or honking their horns. Oscar basks in the attention. I do not.
- He can’t figure out where to pee and poop. “Hey… where’s the green stuff? All I see is white stuff. I can only pee and poop on the green stuff. What do I do!?!” Because the snow drifts are taller than Oscar, he’s blocked from his usual bathroom spot. This means he has no idea where he should go. He’ll pace the length of the lawn outside my urban townhome, glancing up every now and then to see if it’s melted since he scurried from one end to the other.
After a few tries, he’ll either pee on the snow tire tracks or lift his leg on the snow bank. With poop, it’s a bit more complicated. Even if I clear a pretty big chunk of territory and set him down, he’ll refuse to let go. But he’s found a solution – albeit an awkward one if anyone sees us. Because our little front stoops (which consist of a concrete landing and a stair) are always shoveled, he’s taken to leaving a present on my neighbors welcome mat. Yes, I know it’s not a “You’re welcome to poop here” mat, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And I am desperate. Before you blast me with nasty comments, please note that I always clean it up and make sure there’s no residual left behind. Thank goodness that 1. It’s a business, so they’re only there between 9 to 5, Monday to Friday; and 2. They always use the back entrance.
Even though it seems like our northern winters last half the year, I hope, in vain, that one day Oscar will shake off his distaste and jump with abandon through the snow. But until that day comes, I guess that Oscar and I will be hibernating until the spring.
Amy Tokic, Editor of Our Site , is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).