Short dog, deep snow, real problems

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Today we’re having a snow day. In a stroke of lucky timing, the snow fell on President’s Day, which means we’re off work for the day and the kids have a day off from school, too. I’ve been at my desk looking out the windows at a cul-de-sac full of fluffy white.

Last night, I let Cooper the Corgi out into the front yard for his bedtime potty break. At that time, the snow was less than half of a Corgi leg deep, which meant it was less than two inches. It was a healthy dusting, but the tallest blades of grass were still poking through.

This morning, however, was different. When I opened the door, Cooper and I blinked at the bright white glare bouncing off fresh layers of snow. Cooper tentatively stepped out onto the snowy welcome mat, trying to discern where the buried steps started and stopped.

cooper 2021Me: “Go on, Coop. You’ve gotta go out there and potty.”

Cooper (who talks via doggie facial expressions): “Are you kidding me right now? The steps are gone.”

Me: “It’s okay. You can do it.”

Cooper: “I didn’t say I couldn’t do it. I’m saying I don’t wanna do it.”

After several minutes of pleading, I convinced Cooper to take a few hesitant steps down to the front walkway. His stubby legs disappeared into the snow which meant accumulation had grown to five inches. Our low-clearance Cooper was not amused.

Me: “Go on, Coop. You know you need to go potty.”

Cooper: “Oh, I’m crystal clear about that part. The part that’s giving me pause is the idea of sticking my bootie into a snowbank to do my business.”

Flurries drifted down around him as he deliberated about what to do. Meanwhile, I huddled behind the front door, using it to block the breeze carrying a windchill of negative nine degrees. I stuck my head out the door every few minutes to shout encouragement.

Cooper squinted at me, a clear signal of disapproval, but I kept on cheerleading until he reluctantly assumed the position and completed the mission. Then he shook off the snow and trotted back inside with an irritated glare.

Cooper: “How would you like it if I expected you to start the day with your nether regions in the snow? This is preposterous. If I had thumbs, I’d write a scathing Google review about this place.”

Me: “Good job, buddy! You did it.”

Him: “No duh. I’m gonna go sneeze on your bed pillow now.”

Eventually, our teenagers crawled out of their bedroom caves to scavenge for food. After eating a breakfast that happened much closer to lunchtime, they bundled up to go sledding.

They get these snow day instincts from their father, who still thrills at the idea of venturing out on days like this. Having grown up in northern Minnesota, snowy landscapes are his natural habitat. You can take the boy out of Duluth, but you can’t make him avoid the risk of frostbite when there’s a hill to slide down, no matter how old he is.

I, on the other hand, grew up in southern Arkansas, where people spend their rare snow days in pajamas, buried under sofa blankets and blowing on a cup of hot cocoa.

Since the kids were out there anyway, I made our 16-year-old son shovel a landing strip near the front door that the pooch can use for potty breaks. When I took the dog out to see it, Cooper looked up at me as if to say that the small clearing is only marginally better and that he won’t be happy until he sees grass again.

If the weather forecast is right, we’ll have to clear the path at least one more time before the snowstorms move past us. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the luxuries of a warm house, a view of the falling snow, and – above all – indoor plumbing.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of Her book is available on Amazon. 

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