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The Dog Days of Winter

Posted 01.29.2016, by kristin
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Contrary to my best judgement, several weeks ago we got a dog.  Specifically, a brand new 8-week-old Airedale puppy.  Our kids have been begging for a dog since they were toddlers and somehow our overfed dog-sized guinea pigs didn't seem to fill that void.  Now that I've made a job transition and am working less, I started to think that now may finally be the perfect time to add a four-legged family member to our virtual zoo of small things that run and squeal and jump.

But when I contacted breeders and arranged for the surprise arrival of a puppy, I forgot to consider the time of year and our geographic location. Simply speaking, January in Wisconsin is a month of cold, grey, ice, and snow.  Although I knew our lawn would eventually be a small bit of dog heaven, I didn't think about how a six-pound puppy would react to the sleek slope of ice that is currently our back yard. When your legs are shorter than the combined accumulation of snow, I guess it's not so appealing to wade in the depths of cold and try to use the bathroom.

So the last two weeks have been filled with a combination of good humor, tremendous frustration, new realizations, and a slowly changing dynamic in our family.  Daisy (the puppy) has learned that if we take her outside when it's below zero and she squats quickly to eek out some urine, she can outsmart us and complete the task on the warm wood floor inside.  She's also learned that if she scours the floor under the kitchen table after dinner time, she'll find a treasure trove of crumbs and bits of food that always seem to fall off the kids' plates or out of their mouths.  I've learned that leather slippers are actually warm enough to keep my feet from freezing in the early morning snow but don't have enough traction to keep me upright on a slick of ice.  I've also found that if you stand next to the front porch in your robe and your slippers, the neighbors politely wave but then tactfully look away.  My kids have learned to view sticks, frozen mud, and dried leaves in a new way -- they are fascinating through the eyes of a dog.

Despite my frustrations, I am grateful for the puppy in a variety of ways as well.  She has given me reason to venture outside and walk through the neighborhood in sub-zero cold.  Through my years nestled next to a comfortable heater and fire, I almost forgot that a shock of winter air has cleansing properties as it whips through your hair and lungs and rekindles a warmth within.  The puppy has also reminded me that when love is pure, the simplist things can reap inordinate pleasure: a tennis ball bouncing down the driveway, a stuffed toy thrown down the hall, or a warm lap and gentle pet seem to all send our new family member into puppy oblivion.  

While I am always grateful when she finally settles into her crate to chew a bone and fall asleep, I find my frustration giving into joy and gratitide for our new four-legged friend.  Still, I'm counting the days until the piles of snow give way to grass and I can let her run outside.

Finally, I will have a moment's peace. 

Posted in CATEGORY(s) - Tagged: puppy, parenting, dog, winter, mindfulness - Leave a comment