A Texas Dog's First Snow
- Erin Swanson
Odin creeps out our backdoor with tender paws, stepping gingerly into the snow. He dips his speckled snout into it and sniffs. What is this new substance that covers the yard he knows so well? He glances at me with his signature head tilt. “It’s snow!” I exclaim to no avail.
He picks up one leg and then the other – raising them comically high. I stifle my laughter, instead speaking to him in soothing tones. “It’s ok, Odin, you’re alright.”
My golden retriever, Wrigley, could not be more ecstatic. He sprints out the door and immediately dives head first into a mound of powder. He rolls back and forth until he’s fully enveloped in snow. He looks more like a yeti than anything else.
Odin’s Texan Past
Odin came from Lytle, Texas – where hot and muggy and an average snowfall of 0 inches were typical weather forecasts. When we adopted Odin, he traveled to our apartment in San Francisco. Once there, he witnessed a few novel weather patterns – heavy wind, ocean air, and rain. But our first winter in Bend, Oregon required a new level of adjustment.
Making Snow Fun
Now, my husband Alex and I run around the backyard with Wrigley, hoping Odin will follow. We’d succeeded in getting him out the door – something that had taken hours to accomplish – and now it’s time to show him how playful snow can be.
We leave the backdoor open in case he decides to retreat inside and warm up by the fire. This introduction to snow is on his terms – we’re simply providing a gentle nudge.
Odin gives us a sheepish look as we throw a snowball for Wrigley who chases to retrieve it. Odin gazes attentively at Wrigley as if he’s thinking, “Is this what you’re supposed to do in snow?”
Discovering Odin's Favorite Aspect of Snow
With hesitation, Odin licks the snow. He shivers and does a little hop – whew, that’s cold. He tries again. But this time, he chomps. Then again. And again. Munching on mouthfuls of snow, enjoying his very own snow cone treat.
Wrigley’s favorite snow activity? Rolling in it. Odin’s favorite? Scarfing as much snow as he can manage.
Exploring the Neighborhood
Later that day, we walk the dogs through the neighborhood. Snowflakes sprinkle from above – we’re encapsulated in a real-life snow globe. Then, a deluge of powder breaks loose from a tree branch, dumping right onto us. Wrigley looks up and smiles. Odin shakes it off, not amused. His love for snow is still conditional.
We have treats on hand, doling them out as we make our way through soft snow and the occasional ice patch. The more rewarding we can make this snow adventure for Odin, the better.
Time for the Trail
That weekend – after several more backyard explorations and neighborhood walks – we decide the pups are ready to join us snowshoeing (well, let’s be real – Wrigley was ready the moment he first plunged into the snow, but now Odin seems ready).
Now at a Sno-Park, we set out into the woods. Towering pine trees look like they’ve been dusted with powdered sugar. Odin appears shocked – all his senses magnified. He knows this trail well, but somehow it is completely new. Every sniff, taste, and sight peaks his curiosity. He is a true explorer, investigating this magical transformation.
Alex and I share a glance and smile – seeing snow through Odin’s eyes makes it feel fresh and new for us, too. The four of us trot – snowshoes and paws in unison – through the woods in awe. We soak in the moment of reverence.
Suddenly, Odin digs through the snow – determined to uncover the secrets that lie beneath. He discovers a dog toy that another dog explorer left behind. He snatches it and tosses his head around.
Then, he drops it and indulges in a scrumptious snow snack. He picks up the ball again and looks at the snow – which to choose? Playing with the ball or eating snow?
To our right, Wrigley is a blur of fur leaping through heaps of powder. Odin trots after him – the novice following the expert. He attempts to roll in the snow, but quickly jumps back up with a loud “oof.” That’s just too much for him.
Wishing We Had Dog Boots
We notice Wrigley stop his bounding and start picking at his paws – crusted ice and packed snowballs embedded between his paw pads.
We check on Odin and see that he, too, is acting differently. He lifts his paws up and slows down, stepping with great care and hesitation. We take a closer look at their paws and notice scrapes.
We make a mental note to check out Ruffwear’s Polar Trex™ Winter Dog Boots (previously recommended by a friend). Pro tip if you decide on dog boots, too – check out these 6 tips for breaking in Ruffwear dog boots.
All in All, a Successful Journey
We decide it’s time to wrap up our journey and soothe these pups’ paws. At home, we rub coconut oil on their paws which seems to offer relief. Wrigley is ready to run back into the snow in our backyard.Odin opts to settle in by the fireplace on his Restcycle™ Dog Bed. As he soaks up the warmth, we catch a subtle smile on his face. This Texan has been converted to a snow-loving pup.
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