Connections: Cold Dogs

My dog, Sweet Pea, who came to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, clearly isn’t a fan of ice and blizzards

I gather there are some dogs — huskies and Newfoundlands and such — who love nothing better than a good romp in the snow, but my dog, Sweet Pea, who came to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, clearly isn’t a fan of ice and blizzards. I would be curious to hear if other ARF dogs who come from warmer climes are as indignant about the snow as mine is. 

Two weeks ago, East End dogs and their owners had a 12-inch snowfall to cope with, in addition to single-digit temperatures. When I opened the door for Sweet Pea the morning of that storm, she looked disdainfully around, and ran back into the living room to curl up in an easy chair. She must have a bladder of iron.

A courageous friend said her technique for dealing with her reluctant dogs was to shovel the snow off a rectangle in her yard and carry her two small pets to it a few times a day. Another told me his little dogs were willing to go out the front door when he opened it — but no further. They did what they had to do, he said, right there by the front door, but he wasn’t going to clean it up till the cold-weather siege had ended. (I can imagine the spring thaw will bring surprises in my garden, too. Oh, well, I guess it’s good for the roses.)

A city friend said that the snow-melt chemicals all over the sidewalks were the worst thing about taking his dog for a walk in winter. The grains got into the dog’s paws and made the otherwise pleasant experience of a twice-daily stroll feel somewhat cruel.

For the most part I’ve faced the weather by staying, quite happily, at the computer keyboard or in our well-heated kitchen, watching the birds. Sweet Pea is always close by, or settled onto my lap. No matter how much time she and I devote to reading The New York Times and the other newspapers and magazines piled up in our sun porch, we never seem to reach the bottom of the stack.

One of the nice things about having a dog again is being forced to go out a few times a day for at least a short walk. I have insisted that my husband do the same, canes and all. The first few minutes of each walk, at least, are usually great: There is nothing like the exhilaration that comes from a winter walk, especially when the sun comes out and your grandchildren arrive in high spirits, delighted to have had a chance to tromp through clean, deep snow and happy for another day off school.

To my surprise, on Tuesday, when we were treated to another bountiful snowfall, Sweet Pea showed signs of acclimating. She actually bounded outside and into the drifts, ignoring the fact that her legs were too short to keep her belly out of it. I do, however, think she might benefit from a set of little snow booties, to protect her feet (if not her dignity).