Rural Living

Dog Days of Winter

Life and Laughter with a Comic Canine


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Deadlines being what they are, I am writing this in the dead of winter. But itís March, tra la.

Of course, just because itís March does not mean that spring is here. Sure, some of you may have spotted a hardy robin, the proverbial harbinger of spring.

I have spied robins in March. Their little feathers were laden with snow, and their look? Perplexed.

Iíve mentioned my love of snow. I have felt quite cheated these past few winters. All around us, folks were racing out for milk and bread, hunkering inside by the fire, making soup and spraying some Pam on their snow shovels.

This winter, so far, Iíve been able to make do with a broom. I have three different snow shovels, yet none of them have come out of the tool shed to see the light of day.

I have instilled in my little dog Brownie the love of snow. She gets as excited as I do when it comes time for a walk down the driveway for the mail or the newspaper. If snow is falling, by golly, weíre out there in it, romping around. Brownie has perfected the art of the Doggie Snow Angel. I have perfected the art of delighted laughter.

Itís surprising that Brownie loves snow, considering her aversion to getting her little feet wet. When itís time for ďThe BĒ to piddle, she even delicately lifts her back leg. It reminds me of a cultured ladyís pinkie while sipping tea, and I am laughing again. For a home with only one human in residence, there is a lot of laughter going on.

Once, I had the distinct pleasure of actually seeing Brownie laugh. It was back when we were still sharing our quarters with a grumpy, recalcitrant cat named ZuZu. ZuZu had nothing but disdain for Brownie, and she didnít like me much, either. She terrorized the poor little dog, who would scamper to a corner or under the bed whenever ZuZu swaggered onto the scene.

Stumbling to the kitchen to make coffee one morning, I accidentally stepped on ZuZuís tail. She emitted a screechy scream, and hissed at me. No form of abject apology was acceptable to the indignant cat. I glanced at Brownie, observing the scene with interest from under the table. If it can ever be said that a dog was laughing, Brownie surely was. Her little lips were stretched in a big smile, and her tail wagged with glee.

Is there a better way to start the day than by laughing so hard you have tears in your eyes? I think not.

Never having had a dog before, I had a lot to learn. First of all, it is not a good idea to put the dog and cat bowls side by side, with water in the middle. This creates all sorts of territorial battles, much like the Middle East. The upshot is, the cat eats the dogís food and the dog eats the catís food, and each believes she has won the fight.

Despite the fact that ZuZu has gone to her reward, Brownie still guards her bowl. She is often found lying on the floor beside her dish, with her arms wrapped around it, wagging her tail, looking alert and hopeful.

Brownie did not have proper manners when I adopted her. She is quite the messy eater. Apparently, the expensive ďLife is GoodĒ dog dish I bought her is the first such bowl sheís seen. It is a heavy bowl. Yet, every time I fill it with crunchies, she bangs the side of it with her paw and scatters the food across the kitchen floor. I have learned to keep my dismay in check, because, by golly, every single crunchy will carefully be gobbled off the floor before Iím finished with my own dinner.

After her meal, Brownie then goes on scrap patrol. She is quite the little floor polisher. The self-propelled ďRoomba,Ē which powers itself around, vacuuming up the house, has nothing at all on Brownie. If there is a tiny speck of anything on the floor, the little dog will eat it first and ask questions later. I no longer worry about slopping milk on the floor. I no longer need a broom to sweep up spilled Cheerios. I am, however, looking forward to using that broom on my snow-flecked deck and steps a few more times in March. And maybe even April.


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