Over our almost 38 years of marriage, my husband, Ed, and I have had three dogs. The first was Mocha, a Miniature Schnauzer, and the second was Lucy, a mixed breed. Our current dog, Teddy, is a Labrador Retriever.
Their differences, breed, size and color are apparent. Their personalities were also markedly different. Mocha was determined and confident. Lucy was downright goofy. Teddy is loyal and playful.
One commonality for the three is snow. They all loved it. The bigger the piles and drifts the better.
Mocha would put her head in the snow and plow a path, reminding me of the classic children’s storybook “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.”
Lucy would run, jump and roll in the cold stuff. Her long hair would be coated in ice. Cleaning her up took a team effort and a lot of towels.
Teddy revels in the snow. In general, Labs like colder weather. Our canine runs at breakneck speed in our backyard, snow flying everywhere. Ed keeps Teddy’s winter walks short, much to the Lab’s disappointment. I believe given a choice, Teddy would rather walk in the winter than the summer.
Many of the dogs we know have similar feelings toward snow. But why?
I understand why Teddy likes colder weather. The Lab has beautiful black fur, but the color attracts heat. Teddy will lie down on walks in the middle of July but never in the middle of January. And snow? Why did our two passed dogs also love it? As a Schnauzer, Mocha wasn’t tall enough to walk through some of the drifts in our backyard, though she tried. Lucy, the mixed breed, was a lot like Teddy when it came to the snow. She loved long walks no matter how cold the weather or how deep the snow.
Stanley Coren, a scientist and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an expert in canine psychology, was interviewed by thedodo.com about this “love of snow.” He said, “Many dogs love snow in the way that a toddler loves snow — it’s simply fun to play with.”
According to Coren, it’s similar to a dog’s love of piles of fall leaves. It’s a new experience. The snow feels different than other materials a dog experiences in its daily routine.
Wagwalking.com suggests activities for those who have snow-loving dogs, including some we humans already do.
First, the site suggests throwing snowballs. Teddy loves to run after anything we throw in the yard, including snowballs. Teddy doesn’t even seem to mind when the snowball falls apart when he tries to pick it up.
Other suggestions from the site include building snow forts for your dog and you or sledding with your dog or, depending on its size, having it pull the sled.
My favorite suggestion and one we tried was hiding a few of Teddy’s favorite toys in a snow pile and having him dig for them. We always rewarded him with a treat when he found them.
Just as a reminder, we never let Teddy or our passed dogs outside in frigid weather. Drying him off and wiping paws, particularly after walks, to remove any salt or other ice-melting products, is routine.
As much as I don’t like cold weather, Teddy’s exuberance toward snow brings out the kid in me. Ed, too.
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Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.