OUR MEXICAN DOG’S FIRST WINTER
By . . .?
Almost three years ago, we acquired an Ajijic street dog - a short-hair mixed-breed medium-sized dog with the sweetest disposition ever. He was cared for some time by a local Mexican family who had taken on responsibility for a number of dogs and they had reached their limit. So, we became proud owners of our third pet.
What to name this new member of our family? Early thoughts of calling him “Prince” or “Rajah” quickly evaporated as he does not have a haughty or supercilious bone in his body. He loves and is loved by everyone he meets, so we called him “Buddy.”
This gentle and docile animal has shown infinite patience. After close to three years, our two cats still refuse to show him any deference or any sign of welcome although they are beginning finally to tolerate his tail wagging and rambunctious ways – a big improvement over the hissing and lashing out with front paws that he has tolerated for so long. He appeared to accept his lot as an annoying inferior presence and learned to ignore them. Many another dog would have simply had the cats for lunch.
So, when we moved back to Canada this fall, given his docile nature, the question became: after living his entire life in the perfect climate of Ajijic, how will he adjust to the harsh Canadian winters on Georgian Bay? Would he be able to tolerate freezing below zero temperatures with fierce wind squalls blasting his face and legs with snow and ice pellets? Would he freeze? Would he actually refuse to go out in the cold?
We have done what we can to make his transition as comfortable as possible. Daily walks help to acclimatize him. And he is the proud owner of his own winter coat. The waterproof outer layer is lined with a soft warm fabric and even has a “fur” bordered hood. With white snowflakes drifting along his shoulders and a reflective bar along his back, he is one handsome canine. And he knows it!
He loves his winter coat and his snowy adventures. Walking along the snow-covered path wearing his coat, he literally prances with joy. He proudly lifts his head and feet high off the path and greets the wind and snow as if he were a model making a fashion statement – almost regal in his bearing. (“Prince”? “Rajah”?)
Buddy appears to be completely at home on the groomed trails and woods behind our house. But it was just three days ago that we experienced the ultimate test – our first real snow storm. It was around twenty degrees below zero with 25 centimeters of new snow, 60 to 80 kilometer winds, blizzard and white out conditions, and heavy drifting. We bundled up. Buddy even wore a scarf to keep his neck warm and his hood in place.
And how did he respond? Were we in for a surprise! Our worries were for naught. Exuberance would be an understatement. When he was off his lead, watching him run was like witnessing joy in motion. He looked like a deer, literally flying along the path. In fact, his tracks could almost have been mistaken for deer tracks – four paws close together then a space of four feet or so to the next paw prints. Amazing and so beautiful to watch.
At one point, he ran out of sight and inklings of anxiety came to mind. What if there are coyotes? Would he get lost? Would he come back? I shouted into the wind, “Buddy, come!” After a minute or so he raced back, bounding and leaping along the trail, eyes bright with excitement and an unmistakable smile on his face.
He had had the freedom to sniff and dig and rout in the snow banks with his snout looking for hibernating moles. He undoubtedly checked the stream where he had seen mallards only days before. He had run and jumped in the snowy landscape to his heart’s content. And he had a terrific time!
Buddy had passed his first test of winter with first class honors!
(Ed. Note: When this material was sent to us, there was no name on it. If anyone has an idea of who the author might be, please let us know, as we’d love to give somebody credit for this lovely article.)