This is Sam after her walk with my wife in the Chicago snow. I’m told she seemed to enjoy it. But yet, that face. Cold. Tired. Even, dare I say, miserable.
Dogs get cold just like we do. Yes, some breeds—Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes—are bred for this kind of frigid weather. But other dogs, mainly the short-haired ones, can get colder quickly. Thus, the dog sweater phenomenon. What about dog boots? Not a bad idea, some experts say. If your region gets icy snow, or uses a lot of de-icing crystals or chemicals on walkways or streets then dog shoes might be worthy. But none of this is for Sam, not only because she has longer hair and an undercoat, and we regularly clean her paws and pads after a snow walk, but because Sam is never going to be caught dead wearing a doggie sweater or K-9 footwear. Not Sam. Nope.
At the risk of offending some because I know there are many of you who do this, but, do we have to dress up our dog in anything other than a collar? I’m mostly talking about the extreme here: Santa hats, pajamas, Halloween costumes. I put a pair of sunglasses on Sam once. She tolerated it for about fifteen seconds. A clown costume would never happen. Sam is also not going to get a full-fledged birthday party, as if your dog were your child. Sam would be quite perplexed at such an idea. She is part Poodle, but Sam would never tolerate the traditional Poodle look, like that of the recent Westminster Dog Show winner, Siba. There’s some history to that look, practical history about how Poodles were trained to be retrievers and that foo-foo cut facilitated faster swimmers while keeping the dog’s joints warm in the cold. But I guarantee you, Siba has never retrieved a damn thing. Sam, on the other hand, would retrieve a thrown ball or stuffed toy for hours if you’d like.
This is not about what breed of dog is better than another, or what dog owner is better than another. It is about a creature of the world that deserves our love and attention while at the same time should be remembered for what it truly is —a dog.
And with that, Mother Nature—for the most part—will provide, even if spring can’t come fast enough.