Winter usually brings something expected with it — colder weather. But, this year it seems that even the colder weather may be colder.
Sure, I know there are still some out there who think the colder than normal temperatures are a fluke and that global warming means everything is getting warmer, not colder. Those same folks insist the debate is over, but I think mother nature has weighed in on the subject and opened everything back up.
I can remember at the start of the global warming debate — before one side declared itself the victor and said the discussion was over — there was a large group of climate scientists who said the world was not going to get warmer, but would instead enter into another ice age.
Since I’m not a scientist, at least by profession — though I do have more than a few science classes under my belt, I can only state my observations. I think the ice age group may be on to something.
Granted, I’m in Texas where winters are typically moderate, but with each storm comes colder temps. No, it’s not the first time we Texans have seen storms, cold fronts and weather like this. When I was a lot younger, in the early 80s there were times of dramatically hot summer followed by brutally cold winters with prolonged dipping temperatures.
But, being in Texas, or any other “warmer” state, and seeing these cold spells dip to lower latitudes is a better indication of what global weather patterns may be heading toward than watching the summer mercury. When iguanas are falling off the tress in Florida because the lizards are so cold they can’t move, I think that’s an indication of something.
I know most of you don’t tune in to get a weather report from me, you can look out your window to find out what is going on in your neck of the woods, so let me get straight to my point.
It’s cold. Freaking cold.
All of our dogs have kennel boxes in the house that they sleep in and spend time in when we are not at home. Most of you know I am a believer in crate training and that it works. You’re away, the dog stays in the kennel so nothing bad can happen to it. Obviously, there are exceptions and dogs trained to be out unsupervised are one of those.
At our house only two of our crew fall into the “we can stay out and be good because we aren’t going to get into anything we shouldn’t” category. One of them is Maxx, our border collie.
With the recent cold spell of wind chill dipping below the zero mark, I don’t like holding the door open too long waiting for the dogs to go out. The first morning of sub-freezing temperatures the dogs were game. I opened the door, out they ran.
“Oh look it’s cold and we are going to be frisky because we have these fur coats on,” was what they might have said if they were able to communicate in English to me, while they scampered around the back yard. I love watching them play chase, tug and follow-me-because-I-have-the-toy games. It’s also fun to watch them all play, “Hey Bizzy saw a squirrel, let’s all try to see where it went. Everyone stand in a line over here and look up at the trees.”
During the lunch outside time and afternoon outside time, they were all moderately frisky and playing the same games — but adding the game, “hey, our water is frozen, here comes dad with fresh, warmer water, let’s make sure we stick our whiskers and noses in it and rush up to get the back of his legs wet before he can make it back into the house.” Such a wonderful game.
By the late night outside time, most were ready to come back inside in a relatively short amount of time. Taking away the refill water game by dong that task before the dogs went out probably had something to do with it.
This morning, the normal pattern was broken.
I had Maxx walking beside me at his normal pace, and we reached the back door. I opened the door, and told him to go out. He looked at me, looked outside and back at me again. His eyes said it all.
“It’s freaking cold out there, and you want me to do what?”
Reluctantly, after the third time of telling him to get outside because it was cold standing with an open door, he went. I got the other dogs and they followed suit — with me being the evil meanie for making them go out to do their business.
Maxx wandered over to his favorite bush to water and lifted his leg. He then put it back down.
My mind immediately jumped to wondering what medical problems my senior boy may be having out in the single digit weather.
Then, he lifted his leg again, and all was fine. He did turn to look as if he thought his business might freeze before it hit the ground. Maybe he thought he would see a peesicle arching from the ground to where he was standing. Ditto and Scoop both had the same look and reaction from their time out.
As quick as a bullet, they were all huddled at the back door waiting to come in, their muffled cries penetrating the door — except Bizzy. She was busy scouring the yard for squirrels.
If she could find a frozen squirrel, she would be happy, but that morning the squirrels were smart and stayed in their warm little squirrel beds.
Maybe she would have better luck if we moved to Florida. At least there, the iguanas are falling out of the trees and would be an easy catch. Now that’s global warming in action.
Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a top-three finalist in the Extreme Mutt Makeover. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org