Hi Friends –
The first statement that Dad said to me on our morning walk was, “Well, Bubba…” (He calls me bubba sometimes) “…we made it through.” I’ve been sensing some tension in him lately, so I push my ears forward, so he knows that I’m listening, then I give him a head tilt and I know he understands that I’m puzzled. He really just meant that we finally had a day away with our family that allowed the stress to melt, even if nothing else will! I have learned that he takes winter in turtle steps, and the combination of cold and snow really take a toll on him, not so much physically as mentally. He gets the winter kennel crazies, especially when he feels house bound by the weather. It’s difficult for us to go for long walks when there is snow and ice everywhere. I sink in the snow up to my shoulders, so there is no walking in open fields, and I understand that he’d rather not take us to a place that could be packed with people and dogs. Admittedly, I want to meet just about every dog I see and we’ve found that so many humans are nervous about the way big dogs play, so sometimes Dad just wants to avoid the interactions, especially if they are unplanned (there always seems to be dogs walking our kennel complex). Every couple of days we are getting measureable snow and it barely gets to the freezing point, not to even mention the wind chill. This all leads to the mentioned stress level. Now, Dad is not the Appalachian Trail type or anything, but put him inside too long and the discord will come.
I knew we had to do something that involved getting out of town and outside for a while at least. I talked to Mom; she looked at Dad and agreed. She said let’s do something, go somewhere. For a few minutes they sat and decided. Mom did say we could stay home if we wanted. Dad’s response to that was something like, “If I stay here I will break something or go insane.” We knew what the scene at “Crazy Acres” (Service Dog Project) was likely to be on a cold Sunday. Something like putting 25 dogs on an iced slide that ends in the guest cabin with everyone trying to be safe and warm, respectable, but no thanks. (And we knew it would be hard enough for Dad and I to make it across the icy driveway and the rest of our pack doesn’t have their own dane to keep them upright!) We opted not to add to the craziness. As it turns out we drove that way but stopped just short in Salem. (Dad likes this town.) This seems to have met the requirements: it let us get out and walk after a decent drive and has buildings that we can take warm up breaks in and it has waterfront to feed his water addiction. (Although we didn’t make it to the waterfront this time because it was already dark).
We did walk Essex Street and several others. We saw a few of the ice sculptures from the Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival that started on February 7th. The human puppies got their pictures taken next to the TARDIS. The Doctor wasn’t answering the door. This is understandable since he’s probably recovering after his latest regeneration and all. As we walked Dad’s muscles seemed to be working better and I could tell. We calmed down together when I figured out he was annoyed by my trying to choose our direction. When I walked along side he let go of my harness and placed an open hand across my service vest. This, as it turned out, worked well until we hit uneven ground where he needed me a bit more. We stopped at several favorite shops and for a nibble of food or two. We even handed out a couple of my cards and one for SDP. As it turns out our dinner waitress is interested in working with dogs so we had to turn her on to SDP and my blog.
After I brought the family back to the truck I was happy to find that Dad had a meal stowed away for me. He gave me twice what I normally eat on an average winter’s day and some nice fresh water. He let me eat in the truck so I was out of the wind, and he even held my bowls for me while I ate and drank so I didn’t have to bend down. Before long I was cuddled up in the back sleeping off a good day at work. I’m glad I can be here to make sure we all make it through this long cold winter together.