Sunday, December 6, 2015

The World's Best Dog Gets a Handle on Winter

Hi friends, hope you've been having a lovely weekend. It's sunny but cold here in Pennsylvania. And cold is something my little dog doesn't do well.

This is Belle, our 7-year-old shih-tzu. I know this will sound biased, but she's the kind of dog that comes along once in a lifetime, by far the best pet we've ever had. She's sweet, lovable, gregarious, smart, spirited, and more. A certified therapy dog, she brings joy to everyone she meets.

Belle cuddles when you want to cuddle, behaves beautifully if you handle her well, doesn't shed much, and never barks. (Well, except when she wants to come in from the back yard--at which point she'll let out a single, dignified yelp just to let you know it's time to open the door.)

Because I work from home, Belle and I spend our days together, and though she can get on my nerves from time to time, I suppose I get on hers too, so it all evens out. As my #1 writing partner, she wants nothing more than a spot next to me in the chair while I'm working--that and an occasional Pup-Perroni in exchange for a trick or two.

Belle, not happy about her leg warmers

Dogs and Coats

According to our vet, you should think of a small dog's fur as their "clothes," and when it's cold enough for you to need something on over your clothes like a jacket or coat, it's cold enough for them to need something too. Consequently, Belle has a variety of little fleece jackets and such, some of which she tolerates better than others.

Last Christmas, for example, she was not at all pleased with the leg warmers we gave her.  You can tell she doesn't like something when you put it on her and she refuses to move. She just stands there, frozen in place, a mix of panic and embarrassment in her eyes until you finally give in and take it off again. Which is exactly what we had to do with the leg warmers. I guess you could say that she won that particular battle.

Black Friday Bonanza

On the other hand, she loves her new winter coat that I bought recently at a Black Friday sale. In fact, it's so warm and fuzzy that today despite the cold she spent a good hour out back and even took a little nap. I snapped this picture to send to the kids because I thought it was so funny. Here she is zonked out on the grass--in 42ยบ weather!

Up a Creek, with a Paddle

Last weekend, unfortunately, she didn't fare as well.

We were at our vacation house in the Poconos, and my daughter Emily and I decided to go out paddling on the lake. Belle wanted to come along, and though it was pretty chilly, we figured she'd be okay thanks to her new coat.

Sure enough, she started out fine, as you can see in the photo above.  But we were having so much fun that we ended up going further than we'd planned. By the time we turned around to start back home, Emily and I realized that it had gotten colder--and windier.

Even in her new coat, it wasn't long before poor Belle began to shiver. We weren't sure what to do, so at first we just alternated paddling as fast as we could with stopping to scoop up the dog and hold her close until she got warm again. But that method was taking too long, so finally Emily had an idea. As you can see from the picture below, she ended up zipping the dog into her own coat, which left Emily's hands free for paddling and gave Belle a perfect view for the rest of the ride.

It certainly must've been warm in there, because by the time we got back to the house, Belle was the only one of us who wasn't shivering!

All's Well That Ends Well

Later, she fell asleep in her favorite warm spot of all: wrapped in a blanket in the middle of a bed.

That's the picture I'll end with today. Because, really, what could be cuter than the world's best dog, cozy and warm, sound asleep, and probably dreaming about her next great adventure. Either that, or she's having a nightmare about leg warmers!

What's the best pet you've ever had? I'd love to hear about it in the comments, below.

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