81. Le gout de snow

I have seen the future and its name is Cleo.  Remarkable dog.  There we were one night, cavorting in the blizzard, sniffing as the snow drifted along the river bank.  Suddenly something catches Cleo’s attention. Couldn’t have been a squirrel.  Those faint-hearted beasties emerge from their nests neither at night nor in blizzard. But Cleo goes racing off with all her border collie instincts, straight for the willow tree.

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80. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

The Pup, Sport and Sunshine ran ahead looking for what they regarded as the perfect tree.  Their criteria are different than yours or mine would be.  Apparently it’s important that the tree stand straight, and that its branches be evenly distributed on all sides.  They don’t seem to care one iota whether there are interesting smells on the lower branches. But find the right tree they did.  Alpha cut it down with a little hand saw while The Mom took pictures as we proudly dragged it back to the van.  Then we had the ceremonies of bringing the tree into the Kemptville house, setting it up in those plastic containers, and festooning it with all kinds of baubles. 

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77. The View from the Middle of the Road

Once a dog has reached a certain seniority, she should be spared the indignity of yanked leashes.  I have earned my right to take time to smell the hydrants. And as I proceed with my more decorous pace, it often occurs to me that we miss much as we hurry bee-like from place to place.  Often if we stop to observe from a different angle, familiar sights look startlingly new.

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76. When Dogs can't stay out of Trouble

Meanwhile, the chip that Lily carries on her whither continues to provoke problems.  Out at the cottage, the ramifications can be quite painful, she’s found. I could have told her, but she doesn’t listen to me.  I have taught her to stalk minnows in the shallow waters of the lake, and we know that the minnows will not strike back. But I could also tell her, from my own experience, to stay away from the porcupines. 

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75. The Politics of Dogs

Lily doesn’t refer to them as the lap dogs.  She calls them the floor mops, because they are the same size and shade of white.  In Windsor Park, they are rarely allowed to walk when there are other dogs around:  their alphas hold them in their arms. I don’t know what it is that these two dogs have said to Lily, but they’ve certainly set a burr under her tail.

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74. The Lines are Drawn

There are some who believe that extra-terrestrial beings leave their marks in the wheat fields of remote places.  There are some who believe visitors from another planet wrote the hieroglyphs on the monuments of ancient civilizations. And there may be those who believe that space creatures left the white marks in the middle of the field at Windsor Park.

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73. Playoff Season

Ah spring! And yet, I seem to recall that we had that snowfall a few weeks back.  Yes, I distinctly remember it now.  Dumped on us overnight and into the next day.  It’s gone now.  Who cares? But with spring comes the playoff season, and Lily and I are eager to take on Alpha at our favourite game.  All winter, Lily and I honed our skills at fooling Alpha.  We have perfected our “split the defence” strategy, and we are on a winning streak. 

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71. A River to Skate Away On

The surface is smooth – much more smooth than the surface of the Windsor rink where Alpha and his friends gather late at night to flood with a long hose.  There are scarcely any skate marks cut into the ice – and certainly not the kind of gouges and scrapes you get when they play hockey on Windsor rink. Instead, the tracks of the skates are delicate and small.  A child has skated here – a very young child learning to love the winter as much as we do.

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68. Two Branches Reach Out and Touch Each Other

And so for the last few days when Alpha and I go to the park, I’ve been looking up.  I’ve been trying to understand the system of boughs and branches the way that a squirrel would understand, and it seems to me there is a big distinction among different kinds of trees.  But the biggest distinction would not be between this species of tree and another.  For a squirrel, the biggest distinction is whether a tree is solitary, or it grows close enough to another so that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other.

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67. The Mud Baths

First the trucks came in to deposit big heaps of topsoil.  Then dozers came to scrape away the gravel.  Somewhere around that time, the fences were removed.  Then other vehicles spread the topsoil so that it was ready to receive the autumn rains and turn into our mud baths. I’m not sure that the humanoids are smart enough to leave a good thing alone, though.  I hear Alpha tell the Pup that eventually they will put grass there.  Something about turning a baseball diamond into a soccer pitch. 

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66. Mere Anarchy

First the trucks came in to deposit big heaps of topsoil.  Then dozers came to scrape away the gravel.  Somewhere around that time, the fences were removed.  Then other vehicles spread the topsoil so that it was ready to receive the autumn rains and turn into our mud baths. I’m not sure that the humanoids are smart enough to leave a good thing alone, though.  I hear Alpha tell the Pup that eventually they will put grass there.  Something about turning a baseball diamond into a soccer pitch. 

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