The temperature read 8 degrees below zero. Winter advisories were flashing on the corner of the television screen. We were comfortable and cozy, all snuggled in. But when our Hallmark movie came to its inevitable final-kiss scene, I knew it was time. I could no longer avoid it. Toto needed to go out for a potty break.
As I approached the closet and grabbed the snow gear, Toto could sense what was about to happen. It was time to don his jacket, harness, and new booties that prevent his tiny paws from freezing. He tried to escape, making a beeline toward his fluffy bed, but I scooped him up and began the dressing process. With each layer, Toto looked away in disgust and his body became stiff. The booties were the biggest struggle, and he kept kicking them off as I attempted to tighten the elastic cords. Frustrated I fought back and finally secured them, but as we headed out into the chilly darkness I wondered if Toto’s unhappy state would result in a protest.
Unlike Toto, some dogs love the snow and were made for it -- Iditarod anyone? (In photos, I have noticed that those Alaskan huskies even wear booties during their thousand-mile race.) But small dogs like Toto are not snow dogs and won’t last long outside in the bitter cold, even when suited up. Toto often tells me when he’s cold -- he suddenly comes to a screeching halt and lies down right in the snow. It usually happens when one of his booties goes missing, not to be discovered until the snow melts. One moment he’s playful and running, the next he’s paralyzed and shaking, sans bootie.
Recently, Patty Spitler interviewed snow-dog expert Brad Johnson on a PetPals TV segment called, “Does your dog prefer the cold weather?” Johnson summarized, “The main thing is to know your breed. Understand what they like, don’t like, what they need, don’t need, and what their heritage is.” Patty agreed saying, “One size does not fit all.” My tiny Toto and an Iditarod husky prove it.
And on that cold night, 10 minutes of struggle with getting Toto dressed resulted in two minutes of stumbling around a well-worn snowy grass patch that resulted in no poop. I know my breed and especially my dog -- not only cold but protective, lovable, sweet, smart, and stubborn!