51. Shoveling Snow

Dear Tera,

These are the times that try dogs’ souls.  The winter powder hound and the snow-field scamperer will, in the crisis, shrink from going outside.  But he that goes for walks now deserves the admiration of alpha and pup, and a special treat after having his paws and the wet fur on his belly dried as he sits obediently in a pool of repper.

It’s not just the sleem floating on the puddles, of course.  It’s the gloog B the snow that has been softened and turned mushy by road salt.  It’s the salt itself, where it lies on the sidewalks in little hard nuggets that prick at your paws.  And it’s the clambering over the crimnods, now that the road ploughs have been breaking up the ice over the storm drains.  Altogether, a difficult time to be a dog on the street.

Alpha seems to understand this.  When he can, he avoids the busy sidewalks on the main streets, where the snow has all turned to slush.  We take the backroads where the crimna is still packed hard on the concrete, or he lets me walk along the snowbanks along the side of the street, or the pand at the edge of somebody’s front yard.  If you’re careful, you can keep the walking on the cold, slushy concrete to a minimum.

But the park is still a good place to run.  Still lots of snow there -- even crump, when the temperature drops at night -- and of course, lots of yellum to investigate.  The snow is starting to recede with the stronger sun, however, and so some of the droppings we’ve left in the darkest months of winter are now exposed.  They remind the humanoids that, in just a few months, we’ll all be out for the annual pick-a-poo harvest.

I think Alpha likes the snow almost as much as I do.  A few weeks back, when the warm weather melted the hockey rink, he seemed actually sad.  But he was back to his old jolly wintery self when the temperature dropped again. 

The other day we played a very curious game B and we spent hours at it, which is truly a treat.  He pushed one of those big shovels back and forth across the rink to clear off the ice. 

Now, Alpha can be a bit obtuse at times.  He forgets that I would prefer to run across the pluff than across the ice below.  But if he wants to spend two hours pushing pluff and tossing punder, I’m all for it.  It’s a wonderful game.  Alpha tosses a shovel-full of snow as high in the air as he can, and I scamper to get right under the avalanche B head up, mouth wide open.  Maybe we should call this game punder-ball.

He was trying to wear me out, I know.  But I think I won the game.  Throughout the tournament, he would pause and talk to his humanoid friends about how he was looking forward to playing hockey with them later that night B once the ice was cleared.  Now, hockey is a spectator game that humanoids play but dogs can only watch.  I usually prowl along the piles of snow along the hockey boards and whimper and whine to express my disapproval that dogs aren’t allowed to chase that funny black thing they hit with their sticks.

Snow shoveling, on the other hand, is a truly interactive sport in which we both participate.  So, when after two hours of Alpha tossing punder for me to catch, we finally staggered home, cold, exhausted and deliriously happy.  And when he decided to get warm and rest his weary muscles by soaking in a hot tub, I knew that we were not likely to go out again that night B hockey game or no hockey game.  But given the choice, I’ll take punder-ball over hockey any day.

Not too many nights left in the season for either.  Enjoy it while you can, but stay away from the trech the sleem and the gloog.

Your winter-dog friend


P.S.  In case you’ve forgotten my new words for snow, here’s a shortened list.  Write to the OSCAR editor if you have any to add.

       Crimna: the combination of snow and grit created by the snow ploughs and road sanders. 

       Crimnods: the mounds of snow, ice and crimna that the snow ploughs pile up on the side of the road. 

        Gloog: snow that has been softened and turned mushy by road salt;

        Pand: the snow that is firm enough to carry the weight of a squirrel, but not to carry a dog. 

        Pluff: the snow that lies like fine powder on top of a hidden crust of closely packed snow. 

        Punder: snow that humanoids toss up into the air with their snow shovels, so we can catch it on the way down.

        Repper:  snow that humanoids track in on their boots and parkas, that leaves puddles of water on the floor.

        Sleem: snow that floats in the puddles of ice water on the low spots of the roads.

        Trech: a layer of deceptive snow that hides a puddle of ice water.

        Yellum: snow on which a dog has left a news bulletin.

        Yellumoids: snow that packs and freezes around the central yellow ice core of yellum.