Sunday, November 21, 2010

World's spoiledest dog

It's actually my goal in life to have the world's spoiledest dog. Not in terms of behaviour, or by buying her outfits and carrying her in a purse, but by giving her as much as possible of what dogs want out of life.

Dogs want three things in life: pack, food, walks. Which is why Tinky-Winky and I walk off-leash as much as possible. At home that's once a day if I'm working, three times a day if I'm not. But right now we're in Calgary AB for my technical training, so off-leashing is twice a week at Nose Hill Park. In fact, I picked Calgary not only because it's an excellent school, but because of Nose Hill Park. And I picked the place I'm renting because it's close to Nose Hill Park, and I picked my church because it's close to Nose Hill Park.

See, Nose Hill Park is the greatest urban dog-walking place EVAH. It's gigantic and nobody goes there. Well, some people go, but compared to the size of the park, there is almost no one. Perfect for a dog who's unpredictable in her dealings with other dogs. Also there are porcupines, and Tinky-Winky loves porcupines. Though not in a good way.

The downside of Calgary, however, is that it's located high up the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and that leads to some pretty surreal weather. Up to last Sunday, November 14, it was warm. I didn't need a coat to walk around. Neither did Tinky-Winky, so she blew her coat with a vengeance. She looks like a rat.

In the night of Monday to Tuesday, an Arctic air mass blew in. It got to -13C (9F), it snowed, and it was hideously windy from the north. I don't remember ever being so cold in -13C. I don't remember being this cold in -30C, for that matter. It was UGLY.

After three days, the snow stopped, and the wind died down mostly, but the cold stayed. Arctic air masses get really stable once they stop moving, which is why in our subarctic latitudes back home, we get beautiful winter weather: -20C (0F), sunny and no wind. Perfect construction weather, I can tell you. So, it wasn't so bad, but it was still ugly for my poor dog with no coat. It's pretty normal for her to get cold feet at the beginning of winter, because she's getting older, but usually she gets over it pretty quickly. This time, she can't get over it, because she has no coat and her whole body is freezing.

So, I wasn't going to take her to Nose Hill yesterday, but towards park-going time, she got all excited and pushy. Poor dog. I loaded her in the car and we went. At the park, she ran up the hill all excited like she usually does. "That's going better than I thought", I thought. Then she got to the top of the hill and ran right into the wind. And she turned around and ran back down the hill just as fast as she had run up, and back to the car. We were out of the car less than ten minutes.

Today, same thing: I wasn't gonna take her, but she was begging to go out, so I took her. But this time, I took a fleece blanket along. I carried her partway up the hill wrapped in the blanket, then I put her down. She went about five steps, got cold feet, and stopped. So I wrapped her up in the blanket, picked her up, and carried her until she stopped shivering. I put her down and she went five steps, and got cold. I picked her up and carried her.

After the fourth time, she was feeling warm enough to start galloping around on her own feet. She stayed near me for a while, and then took off ahead as she usually does. I was somewhat happy that she was feeling better, but on the other hand, I was worried that she'd get overconfident and get frostbite or hypothermia before I could get to her and all I'd find would be a sad frozen little dogsicle.

Luckily, that didn't happen; I was close to her when she got cold. She had run maybe ten minutes on her own. I turned around and carried her until she stopped shivering again, and then I put her down and she ran right back to the car of her own free will again. We were out of the car for 25 minutes.

I wish we could have got a photo of me carrying her around the park all bundled up like a scarecrow. She was adorable.

So how does that make her the world's spoiledest dog? Well, I don't know anyone else who puts one tenth as much effort into making sure their dog gets off-leash time.


Bibby said...

I'm the schmo who has 2 Shiba Inu's who bullied me into buying them quilted coats after my sister asked me to use them as size models for her dogs and they both "sulked" when we took them off. We don't live anywhere cold but at least they have them now for vacations etc. They also have their own dog cheese and peanut butter.
You take very good care of your dog and are obviously very in tune with her needs and adapt to them. Do you spoil your dog - well yes you probably do but you both deserve the bond you have. Many people don't give half the time to their dogs that you do - I read your blog regularly and hope you both have many more hikes to come.

Mongoose said...

I tried to put a coat on Tinky-Winky when she first came to live with me. She would have absolutely none of it. Same with boots, she just throws them off. So, she gets to walk around naked... or wrapped in a big fleece blanket and carried.

We do spend all our time together, except when I'm at work or church. I don't even like to go out to anything where she can't come. Even church, actually, I wish she could come with me. I'm gonna be a mess when she dies.

Thank you for your kind words. :)