We wake to the first snowstorm of the season. Pristine, white, and sparkly, a soft blanket covering my yard.
“Damn! The forecast was right,” I mutter. “And I gotta take this dog out.”
Grumbling, I drag out all my snow gear – hat, hooded scarf, ski jacket (making sure there are treats in the pocket), and tall boots. I put them on, one by one, as Dolly waits patiently, ears primed to hear the words, “Okay. Let’s go, little girl.”
I pull on my mittens and open the door. And then…dog feet. Dog feet go running out of my house, the proverbial dashing through the snow. Leaving dog prints, pounding down the white coverlet.
Dog feet. Everywhere. Running, leaping, playing. Dog feet excited by the opportunity snow offers. It’s crunchy, it hides toys, it gets between toes. Best yet, it’s edible – like everything else!
Her first winter, I begrudged Dolly destroying the smooth glistening appearance of my marshmallow-coated yard. I wasn’t ready for everything a dog can do in the snow. To the snow. But now, I chuckle and join in. Dog feet aren’t the only ones trampling it; I’ve learned that play makes snow better. How else to deal with harsh, unforgiving winters in the Northeast?
Dolly remembers why I took her outside, and then prances and twirls all over again. She looks to me to play, so I throw a tennis ball for which she’ll dig to China if I don’t intervene.
I wouldn’t have gone outside in this fresh snowfall were it not for her. My lungs wouldn’t have filled with fresh cold air. I wouldn’t have witnessed the tall pines with delicate snow-kissed branches. I wouldn’t have playfully chased a ball in my makeshift snowsuit, reminiscent of much younger days. I wouldn’t have laughed with pure delight at my exuberant fur-faced companion. When I tell her it’s time to go in, she reluctantly heads toward the door, ball in her mouth for safe-keeping. I’m grateful to have a dog to force me to experience all four seasons in their rawest moments. She and nature continue to teach me the ways of the world.
Excerpt from Healing with Dolly Lama: Finding God in Dog
© Patricia A. Nugent