With about 6 feet having fallen in just half a month’s time, it’s clear we have a lot of snow. I’m going to go against the majority here and declare that “I like snow.”
I do not like shoveling, dusting off my car, sliding on roadways, treacherous driving conditions, blizzards, or being stuck inside for days. But my dog loves snow. And I love watching her frolic in the powder. It’s worth some of the inconveniences to see my dog being a crazy maniac.
I’ve never been a big fan of snow. As a child I loved it. Building snow forts, erecting snow men, sledding, snow days, etc. But we were never winter activities people. As an adult, my dislike of the snow increased. There were no benefits to it; it just impeded what I wanted to do.
Then I got Risa.
Something about the snow invigorates dogs. This does not surprise me. I have seen documentaries and heard accounts of wolves who become youthful and playful when the snow blankets the earth. Dogs, being their direct descendants and more juvenile than adult wolves, love snow. And so I bundle up, grab a toy, and go join in the fun. You can’t help but get wrapped up in that unbridled enthusiasm for the white stuff. Or, at least I can’t. 😉
It isn’t just the joie de vivre that Risa exhibits in the snow that transformed my moderate dislike for the white stuff into excitement. There is more to it than that. When it snows, I can produce a toy/reward out of thin air by just grasping some snow into my hands. Risa loves catching snowballs; there are infinite rewards at my fingertips. Walking and running through the snow is a much tougher workout for Risa and makes tiring her out easier. When we venture out, we’re less likely to run into people and other dogs making our lives a bit less stressful. I also love snowy walks when the sounds of modern life are muffled to the point of being non-existent and, for all intents and purposes, it’s just me and my dog alone together.
So we’ve spent a lot of time the last couple weeks outside in the white wonderland. Toys tossed in the yard are much more fun to chase and find when there’s 3 feet of snow to trudge through. Risa doesn’t just grab toys like usual in the snow–she pounces on them like a fox hunting a mouse submerged under the snowdrift. If she can’t easily pick it up or locate the toy, she digs for it. She can dig all she wants without ruining the lawn! There have also been plenty of times where the toy got lost in the snow forcing her to use her nose and brain to locate it. Though we did lose the Wubba in the yard for several days!
After a couple days of just playing in the yard, I knew Risa needed an actual walk today. The trail was narrow as it had only been packed down single file making passing difficult. We came up behind two dogs who were also enjoying the wintry weather. One was off leash and came dashing for us. Thankfully, their owner got them before they got close. Risa flopped into a play bow in front of me as the dog ran our way. Knowing her, it was likely a way to diffuse the situation rather than an invitation for a jaunt in the snow but it was still nice to see that sort of response from her.
I allowed Risa some off-leash time today as it was fairly vacant on the trail. As soon as I unhooked her leash, she took off like a rocket. Apparently, 2 days of limited exercise combined with snow equals a psycho crazy dog. I called out to her “Ris. Here!” and she spun around and bolted back to me. Awesome dog earned treats. 🙂 She took off at a sprint several more times and always returned with a rapid recall which was rewarded. Then she blew me off on a recall request and came on the second or third (different cue words). I rewarded her with treats and then leashed her back up.
Risa walked on leash for a bit longer taking a break from her sprinting fun. Returning on recall is one of the requirements of off leash fun. Blowing me off makes the fun end for a bit. This time, I just dropped her leash and let her trot off. She seemed less inclined to act like her tail was on fire this way. I marked and rewarded times she looked back at me or stayed close. I practiced some recalls too. Risa was a good dog. 🙂
We got home and I took her out into the yard to play again. Despite the long walk and running, she was not tired out. Her drive for the Wubba was intense and she did not want to let me have it so I could launch it again. I had noticed the last few times we were out that she was getting a bit pushy and mouthy. She generally has very good impulse control but it’d been slipping. I am not sure if it was the lack of exercise, the joy of snow, the love of the Wubba (and the fact that I only have one for outside use), or her resource guarding. Probably all of the above. I guess that is something I will have to watch and work on with her.
As winter hasn’t even officially begun yet, I am sure I will have plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the white stuff with Risa. From romps in the yard, walks with friends, and snowshoeing we should have plenty to keep us busy. I might just become a winter activities person yet! 😀