I can tell it’s winter because our cat, Big Boy, sits forlornly by the window every day wondering when that white stuff is going to disappear outside so that he can resume his fierce, nighttime prowling around our neighborhood in search of unsuspecting, helpless baby rabbits.
Five months, Big Boy, five months. That’s how long you’ll be waiting there with your nose pressed against the window.
Every once in a while, he’ll venture up to an open door and briefly sniff the frigid air outside, then turn around, disappointed, and head back to his comfortable perch atop a warm radiator.
Now, for our dog Lucy, it’s a slightly different situation. You see, she has to go outside. As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a litter box for dogs, at least not here in the U.P. So twice a day, after breakfast and dinner, I escort her outside to the porch, sometimes through coercion, and then give her a little nudge down the steps on to the frozen ground, at which point she hustles over to this bush or that, quickly takes care of her business, and then hustles back to the porch, barking, and demanding re-entry to her home.
Once inside, she immediately checks to see if, somehow magically, a new meal has suddenly appeared in her bowl, which it hasn’t, and then she retires to the familiar comfort and warmth of her dog bed. She leads quite the exciting life in wintertime.
In case you had any doubts, Lucy is not a husky; no, she’s a highly domesticated, 22 pound rat terrier.
However, life has changed for her slightly, and for the better, this winter. A friend of ours takes his two dogs on brisk, daily walks through the wilds of Marquette County–near the Dead River, along the Noquemanon Trail, across from Marquette Mountain–and he’s invited me and Lucy along. We join him and his dogs once or twice a week.
Initially, Lucy was intimidated because the other dogs, much larger than her, barked shrilly and romped wildly in the back of the SUV on the way over to the walk, but once the tailgate was let down, she was just one of the gang, sniffing and peeing and romping up hills and down, just occasionally checking with us to make sure she wasn’t getting lost in the wilderness.
Her initial anxieties have evaporated. These walks have become her favorite part of the week. It’s like going to Dog Disneyworld, even in the winter.
It’s often said that, if you live in the U.P., you have to embrace winter, you have to venture out into the cold because there’s life, vibrancy and excitement out there–a helluva lot more than there is huddled under a blanket on the living room couch next to a blaring TV. Lucy’s certainly discovered that this winter.
Now, as for Big Boy, he’ll no doubt continue to watch us from atop his cozy radiator, with total disdain, as we venture outside into the forbidding cold. Stupid humans! Stupid canines! No, Big Boy will just wait until March…April…maybe May when he trusts normal life will finally resume, and there will still be plenty of helpless, baby rabbits out there to stalk and kill.