I Hate My Dog In The Winter   It is a Sophie’s choice when you are a short-legged bulldog, it is minus thirteen, and the place where you like to answer the call of nature is covered in a snowdrift. It is only January and I am already sick of winter. The same can be said of my new dog, given his personality now goes by the more formal name of Mr. George, who on several occasions has stood on the back steps, felt the wind whip through him, glanced at the snow-covered tundra that was the backyard, and then looked up at me like I was insane.    On a couple of occasions he has promptly turned around, walked back into the house, and laid down next to the gas fireplace, as if to let me know he can hold it a few more hours. There were a couple of days where I worried that he might have died because I did not see him move an inch from his spot next to the fireplace for four or five hours. He is not a dog that enjoys the cold.    God bless those of you out there who put doggy boots or slippers on your pets before sending them out into the elements. You are more ambitious than I am and also probably not as cheap as I am. While Mr. George likes to think he is a rough, tough canine, even though he is afraid of white garbage bags, the vacuum, and numerous other objects, a little bit of snow between his toes on a cold evening is a bit too much for him. He does not want to put that foot down and yet he knows he must if he is going to do his doody. What results can only be best described as a drunken Viking war dance, ending with me having to carry sixty-five pounds of dead weight across the yard back into the house.    I am not saying I am much better in this production number. The secret to going outside in the winter is layering of clothing. It might take you fifteen minutes just to put on all the clothes you need to brave the elements and there are the times all this preparation does not seem worth the three or four minutes you are going to spend outside with your pooch.  Ten o’clock at night, early in the morning, these are the times it does not seem worth all that effort, especially when your dog is jumping up and down in anticipation of going outside. You forget that these are also the coldest moments of the day. Still, you think that you will be out and in so fast that it really will not matter. You might forgo a shirt or a jacket or even a pair of socks to speed up the process. The entire time you are putting on whatever clothes you think you will to brave the elements the dog is excitedly dancing around you because he knows what lies in store for him. The problem is to properly prepare takes time, the dog is acting like it is final Jeopardy, and you don’t want to be on the losing end of that clock. So, choices have to be made.    You hurry through dressing and get the leash on the dog. He is ready to go. The problem is I have a sliding glass door that, when it is extremely cold, often sticks. So, I am holding the leash of a dog that is acting like a teenage girl about to meet Justin Bieber in one hand and pulling on a stuck door with the other.  The dog does not understand physics of expansion, that fact that the rubber might be affixed to the metal due to moisture, or that there might be snow or ice in the track. He just understands that we are going outside and in his mind that means right now. There is pounding and Herculean feats of strength to get the door open. Down the steps, which are often covered in snow and ice, we go. Now, I am clumsy to begin with, but add a dog who is acting like a speed boat and I’m the water skier on slick ice covered steps and I am pretty sure I know how I am going to meet my maker, with my legs going out from underneath me and my head bouncing down every step like a basketball, with my last glimpse of life being me lying on the snowy concrete as a flow of dog urine gradually comes towards me. But somehow we make it.  This is usually when your dog decides to take its time.  He is going to want to smell everything, take frequent breaks, and god forbid if some other animal has tracked across the yard. I used to wonder why I suspected my neighbors might hate me. As the wind whips through my shirt, snow slipping down my boots, add to this in the morning you suddenly realize you have not visited the bathroom yourself yet, the cold is mind- numbing. You might be lucky if you don’t lose a toe or two, and you look down at your beloved pet who is blissfully smelling the ground, the urgency of your language gets a little aggressive. You try reason.  Never mind that the dog probably does not understand a darn word you have said. Soon, what was meant to be just a few minutes turns into a Gilligan’s Island cruise.  Past the age of 35, the longer you spend outside the more it begins to feel like Desi Arnaz is playing Babalu on your bladder. So, a treat or two is promised if the dog speeds up. There might be a pull or two on the leash to try to snap him out of his lollygagging. Pretty soon, your voice rises a little. A curse word or two enters the vocabulary, then some more. An impassioned plea or two, because somewhere in the back of your mind is the image of them finding you a giant icicle in the spring when the snows thaw still clutching the dog’s leash in your frozen hands. You have pretty much gone through all the stages of death and have finally reached acceptance.  It doesn’t much matter at that moment because your nose has been running so much that your beard and mustache have frozen together, forming icicles making speech almost impossible without losing a nose hair or two in the process. It is at that moment you notice your neighbor’s lights on and realize they have probably heard every word you have uttered that would make a sailor blush and have the ASPCA on speed dial, even though the dog is blissfully unaware of this tirade because he is in his own world, having ignored and not understood a single thing you have said. You make a note, that if you somehow survive, to send them a plate of cookies and snacks at Easter with an apology note.   It is usually then that the dog decides to fulfill the goal that has sent you both out into the night in the first place.  It is then that you become Sybil. There is joy. There is happiness. There might even be a little dance or two. Even the temperature seems to have warmed up. Somewhere an angelic chorus is breaking out into a hymn somewhere. You loudly begin praising the dog, “Who is my good boy? Who is my good boy?” Again, like it makes a difference to the dog. And you know, next door, the husband is turning to his wife, saying, “There is just something not right about that boy. How much do you think we could get for the house if we sell and move to Arizona?”  sWe get back inside. Unleash him. Peel off my clothes while trying to not to slip in the formerly snowy water puddles that have come from snow being tracked into the house.  I then fall asleep in my chair and walk into the bedroom a few hours later to discover that George has left me a present next to the bed. I cannot wait for spring.
I Hate My Dog In The Winter   It is a Sophie’s choice when you are a short-legged bulldog, it is minus thirteen, and the place where you like to answer the call of nature is covered in a snowdrift. It is only January and I am already sick of winter. The same can be said of my new dog, given his personality now goes by the more formal name of Mr. George, who on several occasions has stood on the back steps, felt the wind whip through him, glanced at the snow-covered tundra that was the backyard, and then looked up at me like I was insane.    On a couple of occasions he has promptly turned around, walked back into the house, and laid down next to the gas fireplace, as if to let me know he can hold it a few more hours. There were a couple of days where I worried that he might have died because I did not see him move an inch from his spot next to the fireplace for four or five hours. He is not a dog that enjoys the cold.    God bless those of you out there who put doggy boots or slippers on your pets before sending them out into the elements. You are more ambitious than I am and also probably not as cheap as I am. While Mr. George likes to think he is a rough, tough canine, even though he is afraid of white garbage bags, the vacuum, and numerous other objects, a little bit of snow between his toes on a cold evening is a bit too much for him. He does not want to put that foot down and yet he knows he must if he is going to do his doody. What results can only be best described as a drunken Viking war dance, ending with me having to carry sixty-five pounds of dead weight across the yard back into the house.    I am not saying I am much better in this production number. The secret to going outside in the winter is layering of clothing. It might take you fifteen minutes just to put on all the clothes you need to brave the elements and there are the times all this preparation does not seem worth the three or four minutes you are going to spend outside with your pooch.  Ten o’clock at night, early in the morning, these are the times it does not seem worth all that effort, especially when your dog is jumping up and down in anticipation of going outside. You forget that these are also the coldest moments of the day. Still, you think that you will be out and in so fast that it really will not matter. You might forgo a shirt or a jacket or even a pair of socks to speed up the process. The entire time you are putting on whatever clothes you think you will to brave the elements the dog is excitedly dancing around you because he knows what lies in store for him. The problem is to properly prepare takes time, the dog is acting like it is final Jeopardy, and you don’t want to be on the losing end of that clock. So, choices have to be made.    You hurry through dressing and get the leash on the dog. He is ready to go. The problem is I have a sliding glass door that, when it is extremely cold, often sticks. So, I am holding the leash of a dog that is acting like a teenage girl about to meet Justin Bieber in one hand and pulling on a stuck door with the other.  The dog does not understand physics of expansion, that fact that the rubber might be affixed to the metal due to moisture, or that there might be snow or ice in the track. He just understands that we are going outside and in his mind that means right now. There is pounding and Herculean feats of strength to get the door open. Down the steps, which are often covered in snow and ice, we go. Now, I am clumsy to begin with, but add a dog who is acting like a speed boat and I’m the water skier on slick ice covered steps and I am pretty sure I know how I am going to meet my maker, with my legs going out from underneath me and my head bouncing down every step like a basketball, with my last glimpse of life being me lying on the snowy concrete as a flow of dog urine gradually comes towards me. But somehow we make it.  This is usually when your dog decides to take its time.  He is going to want to smell everything, take frequent breaks, and god forbid if some other animal has tracked across the yard. I used to wonder why I suspected my neighbors might hate me. As the wind whips through my shirt, snow slipping down my boots, add to this in the morning you suddenly realize you have not visited the bathroom yourself yet, the cold is mind-numbing. You might be lucky if you don’t lose a toe or two, and you look down at your beloved pet who is blissfully smelling the ground, the urgency of your language gets a little aggressive. You try reason.  Never mind that the dog probably does not understand a darn word you have said. Soon, what was meant to be just a few minutes turns into a Gilligan’s Island cruise.  Past the age of 35, the longer you spend outside the more it begins to feel like Desi Arnaz is playing Babalu on your bladder. So, a treat or two is promised if the dog speeds up. There might be a pull or two on the leash to try to snap him out of his lollygagging. Pretty soon, your voice rises a little. A curse word or two enters the vocabulary, then some more. An impassioned plea or two, because somewhere in the back of your mind is the image of them finding you a giant icicle in the spring when the snows thaw still clutching the dog’s leash in your frozen hands. You have pretty much gone through all the stages of death and have finally reached acceptance.  It doesn’t much matter at that moment because your nose has been running so much that your beard and mustache have frozen together, forming icicles making speech almost impossible without losing a nose hair or two in the process. It is at that moment you notice your neighbor’s lights on and realize they have probably heard every word you have uttered that would make a sailor blush and have the ASPCA on speed dial, even though the dog is blissfully unaware of this tirade because he is in his own world, having ignored and not understood a single thing you have said. You make a note, that if you somehow survive, to send them a plate of cookies and snacks at Easter with an apology note.   It is usually then that the dog decides to fulfill the goal that has sent you both out into the night in the first place.  It is then that you become Sybil. There is joy. There is happiness. There might even be a little dance or two. Even the temperature seems to have warmed up. Somewhere an angelic chorus is breaking out into a hymn somewhere. You loudly begin praising the dog, “Who is my good boy? Who is my good boy?” Again, like it makes a difference to the dog. And you know, next door, the husband is turning to his wife, saying, “There is just something not right about that boy. How much do you think we could get for the house if we sell and move to Arizona?”  sWe get back inside. Unleash him. Peel off my clothes while trying to not to slip in the formerly snowy water puddles that have come from snow being tracked into the house.  I then fall asleep in my chair and walk into the bedroom a few hours later to discover that George has left me a present next to the bed. I cannot wait for spring.