Two weeks into winter our dog Arthur discovered a new hobby. We have four-footed tenants under the house. Arthur smells them through one heating duct vent in the living room. He alternately stalks actively—scrapes, barks, demands—and then creeps back. His strategy is clear: move away; go quiet. Lie doggo. I’d never seen a dog lie doggo before, but it’s clear that he has hunting instincts.
I’m grateful for his entertainment because otherwise, he’s having a hard winter. We had snow and ice before mid-December this year. With the elements came the plow trucks and their combination road spread of dirt and salt. All of these conditions have increased each week. Our temperatures plunged and remained in single digits or below zero with little respite. The ice and the salt hurt Arthur’s feet very much. We try to avoid his feet meeting the treated roads through various strategies. We find the few places that have not been plowed but are accessible. We put special dog Vaseline on his pads. We put regular Vaseline on his pads. We bought rubber booties that we could not get over his paws. We bought sock-like booties that he flung off (he tries to fling off his coat, too, but it is secure). All work to greater or lesser degrees. Result: he hates to go out now.
Always a late sleeper, we now have to bribe him to leave the crate in the morning. Even after removing the blankets that swathe the crate and cajoling, he remains. He lies doggo. Presentation of his treats help. Cheese helps more. Stern admonition worked once. Often he runs back from the front door, and if one of us has forgotten to close the crate door, he runs back into it, to lie doggo.
We took advantage of a dry, almost warm day this week, and enjoyed a two-mile walk together. The road was dry, so the salt did not react with his pads. The sun was warming although it was cold, and there was no wind to rip the heat off of us. Arthur trotted along beside me, happy to be out.
This afternoon, I will prepare to do battle to get him out to a walk. The temperature is in the single digits again and the wind gusts are bringing a brutal chill. A heavy snowfall yesterday means a new load of fresh salt and ice today. Once out in the cold, neither of us will want to linger. Arthur will be efficient.
This evening when we gather in the living room, Arthur’s canine instincts will come to the fore—the wolf in him. He’ll sniff and bark and scratch at the vent. He’ll retreat and go quiet, watching, waiting. Eyes glittering, he’ll lie doggo.