A Snow Day!

We recently had our first significant snowfall of the winter. We totaled around 12”/30cm which, because of strong gusting winds, created some “interesting” snow drifts!

Having that much snow on the ground is an inconvenience however, it becomes a mobility issue once the streets have been plowed as the snow from the plow is generally deposited on the sidewalk on top of the original snow. Whereas residents are expected to keep the sidewalk clear in front of their properties, this is generally nothing more than wishful thinking!

Ray has seen three winters now so snow should not have been too much of a surprise for him however, after this recent snowfall, we were left wondering just what he really thinks about it.

The first clue he gave us that things had changed outside was when Carol and I were getting his leash, treats, poop bags etc together ready for his walk, and Ray headed for one of his beds! There he curled up and just watched us. Thinking that perhaps he knew our pre-walk routine this time of year was quite lengthy and was not going to stand around seemingly forever while we got ready, we ignored him. Eventually, we opened the back door and expected Ray to rush past us but he stayed curled up on his bed and just watched us.

Not only did this behavior get our attention, but it was emphasized by the fact that Ray always goes out and pees prior to his walk. Surely he must feel a need to go and pee? With some coaxing, he eventually left his bed and sauntered out through the door and into the garden where he followed his usual routine.

We locked the door and waited for him to come running around the corner to us so that his leash could be attached. Well that would have been his usual habit but this time, there was no Ray running anywhere! We went to see what he was doing and found him just standing in the snow looking at us. We headed for the back gate expecting Ray to follow … but no. In desperation, we opened (and closed) the back gate and of course Ray had to check out whether we had left him and came running around the corner whereupon he was attached to his leash.

Once moving down our driveway, his gait picked up and his tail was raised and clearly relaxed so we started on our walk. We had to walk down the road as only isolated sidewalk sections had been cleared, but Ray was clearly heading for his park and was in his own “nose driven” world. When we got to the park, he stood looking at the drifts and did not seem to comprehend what he was seeing. The park is a popular place for dog walkers so there were already a few trails which could be followed, albeit with some degree of difficulty. Ray follows trails without hesitation but, on this occasion, he just turned around and headed in the general direction of home.

We decided that while a long walk may be contrary to his wishes, we should certainly ensure that he gets a reasonable walk in and so guided him past our street and continued walking up (and on) the road. On our way back, the sidewalk had been trodden down sufficient to make passage relatively easy and as Ray has always shown a preference to an existing trail (there’s no “trail blazer” in his character!), we let him lead us home.

Everything was fine until we came to our street. A plow had been there, presumably clearing the intersection, and had blocked the sidewalk with about 3ft/90cm of snow. Ray was happy walking down the sidewalk until he was confronted with this wall of snow. He then stopped and stared at it!

We both watched him with interest as we were really curious to know what he was going to do. He could have jumped and scrambled over it without undue effort, but that was obviously not uppermost in his thoughts. He looked at us, and then looked at the wall of snow. He looked generally around, and then back at the wall of snow, and then back at us. He decided to do a “180” and head back the way we had come until he could get onto the road. Once on the road, he turned around and headed for home!

He really is an interesting character!

8 thoughts on “A Snow Day!

  1. I was thinking he would’ve taken a running attempt of jumping over it, and his looking back n forth to you guys was for your command to go. That’d be interesting to know for next time, to see if you just said go if he’d go in the deep snow and if he’d take a run and jump over something. Melanie

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    • I don’t think that he would have been waiting for a command because his training never included this circumstance however, he may have been looking back at us to see what we were going to do.


  2. Maggie had never seen snow until the Easter holidays of 2008 when we woke up to several feet of the stuff. Bit of a shock for a White Easter here in the UK. Her reaction was hilarious. We let her out to do her business and she bounced out as normal, stopping dead in her tracks after all four feet sank into it, then turned to look at us as if to say ‘What the hell is this??’ No doubt Ray was confused as everything was not as he expected and all his marker smells had disappeared! Bless. 🙂

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  3. We woke up to more snow dumped on us this morning too. Our dogs love the snow outside and have a ball running and jumping on the high piles. Nikita loves to dig holes in them too! When our temps warmed up a little over the past weekend, it made the area I shoveled out for the dogs in the yard all icy. They were doing splits on that ice when they tried to “go”.

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  4. Very interesting story. Poor Ray – when his world is obliterated in white stuff! I think some dogs have a very keen awareness of their trails – a map in their head – and when it suddenly differs, they are totally confused. Certainly this is the case with my own dog Little Monkey!

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    • I tend to agree with you. Many of the visual markers that he was used to have gone. His usual trails are now an accessibility issue. There are all manner of scents deep beneath the snow and, as if that wasn’t enough, dogs are “marking” in places that are different from their usual choices. Everybody’s pattern has changed and Ray has to try and make sense of it all!

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