Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In The Deep Freeze

It's been cold here. [Yes, I KNOW, it's December in Alaska, what did I expect, ha ha, very amusing.] I don't mean regular seasonable cold. I mean, colder than usual for the time of year. Those lying meteorologists keep promising us normal daytime temps (low to mid 20's) and standard nighttime temps (mid teens.) But what do we get? Some days our high temp doesn't break zero (although yesterday morning it was a balmy 3 degrees). This is more like January weather: clear, cold, very dry. I wouldn't mind so much if they didn't keep lying to us about it.

Mind you, when it's clear, it's sunny, so the cold does have its compensations. But the dogs don't want to be out in it for any length of time. Can't say I blame them, especially my lurcher, Ali Babba, who is the next thing to bald (having unfortunately inherited his fence-jumping whippet father's nearly-absent coat, rather than his imported Scottish BC mother's weather-resistant rough coat). I have bought Ali several dog coats in different designs. This is not easy, mind you, since Ali has a mighty deep keel and a wasp-waist that would be the envy of any corseted Victorian miss. Finding something that will accommodate his deep chest but not hang down so low that he would be walking up the inside of the hem as it droops to the ground is quite a challenge - but I managed it, more than once, and have purchased several nice examples, some fleece, some knit, one like a tiny horse blanket with a weather-resistant canvas outside and an imitation shearling inside. Unfortunately, I have discovered that all of them induce instantaneous paralysis.

It goes like this:
1. Pick up coat
2. Call Ali over
3. Chase Ali up the stairs and under the bed, where he is hiding because you have A COAT!
4. Hide coat under comforter
5. Coax Ali out
6. Get a death grip on his collar
7. Apply coat gently and with much praise
8. Release collar
9. Observe look of stark terror in eyes
10. Attempt to coax dog to move
11. Fail completely
12. Remove coat
13. Observe miraculous recovery.


All right, then, you have no one to blame but yourself if you freeze to death in the 0.9 seconds it takes you to run out, pee, and run back in (all at top whippet speed).

Another thing that's nice about the very cold weather is that every available molecule of water precipitates out onto some object. This makes for some pretty trees. It also means that should you be so foolish as to inhale while you are outside, your nostrils will immediately stick together, effectively gluing your nose shut (at least until it starts to run, at which time you will again be able to breathe through your nose. Although you may not want to.)

(All the above shots were conveniently taken from my balcony, so I don't have to put on shoes or bundle up to get them.)

I will admit we did have snow a few days ago. This was the sunrise (taken about 9:45 from the back step of the clinic):

By noon, we had this:

The dogs, of course, love when it's snowing, because it means it's considerably warmer and they can romp around and play. Or else stare quizzically at me, wondering if I am ever going to THROW something for them to chase.
Kenzie (in her winter "do", cosmetically inferior but thermally superior to the trimmed-up and jaunty look of summer), with Ali Babba head in the foreground:
Of course Ali has bigger concerns... because is that a fabric Frisbee in my hand, or could it perhaps be a cleverly disguised COAT?!?
Oh, okay. It's a Frisbee after all. The world is safe once more. All's well that ends well. Still, it pays to be alert, especially when one lives with a coat-wielding maniac. Because you never know when you'll have to go streaking off into the sunset to avoid her evil plans to keep you from flash-freezing yourself into a little black and white dog-sicle.
You can't trust her an inch.


Pat said...

Just wanted to say thanks for your stories. I love em.

Anonymous said...

Your Ali is like my Kramer. Same shape and short coat! I tried to put a coat I bought for him last year - I hate to admit it was a preppy yuppie knock off from Pet Smart - cause I couldn't find anything else!

I got it on him, buttoned, and the velcro fastened. He goes out running. I look over. He looks like a little kids because the chest has come apart and its flapping around him! Damn you dog!

I'll take any ideas on coats too! I think I need one for him at night. We heat by a woodstove and when it gets low he gets cold! Poor no hair dog.

Very pretty pictures!

goatgirl said...

When I put a sweater on my dog he ran frantically around bumping into things so I took it off and am scared to try again lest someone gets hurt. It was crazed!
Suggestion for Beth: We too heat with a wood stove and I bought a heated dog bed for my pooch. Just plug it in and when it cools down at night, no worries.
Is that a Westie? We love love love Westies at our house. My son's favorite dog...although he has never had one. He did a demonstration for 4H on the Westie. Called it "Go West-ie"

Tiffany said...

Those pictures are beautiful. And those doggies are adorable.

Ali sounds like my bulldog when I get her face wiping pads out. She falls over like a possum. LOL

Holly said...

*tries to pick head up off desk with laughter and tears streaming - fails*

oh goodness. Love the description of the whippetwhatever. Barn owner here has a gorgeous little black and white whippet who is now (thankfully) bred to (by?) another darling brindle and white whippet boy so should have tiny baby whippet puppies in about 1.5 months. I am so looking forward to the whiplets. I love me some babies, especially when they are not mine to worry myself sick over.

We have had incredibly odd weather here also. 40's and rain one day, freezing rain or snow-by-the-feet the next. I fully expect that January will find me buried by the snow, unable to get out to go to work!

MaskedMan said...

I know that kind of weather. When you get that kind of cold, and a temperature inversion, it's killing weather. I'm thinking back to the winter of '74, I think it was, in Ft. Collins, where we had that happen - Ice was plating out on every unheated surface, including the undersides! I fact, it was plating out on some heated surfaces, too. Thousands of shattered trees, powerlines broken into small hunks, and even the cottonwood trees were shedding limbs in explosive bursts. Cattle were freezing to death before they could be brought in from pasture. Much better that you've got clear skies, even if that means it'll stay cold.

On a similar note, the rain has been pushed out, and we've got fairly cold (for Delaware) weather, with minimal cloud cover. Suka is much pleased.

AKDD said...

Pat: You're welcome! (I should be thanking you all, since I appreciate the audience. I'd write anyway - I can't help myself - but the feedback is very nice.) :)

Beth: I found one sweater that was stretchy enough to fit the chest without dragging on the ground at the waist. The horse-blanket one was the best: it closes across the chest, and has long webbing straps that buckle under the sternum and waist. (I DID have to shorten the strap that goes under the waist to get it even close to the right length.)

GG, Kenzie is in fact a Westie. She's a little hoyden, though - has to be to survive the BCs - so I never frouf up her head like the typical Westie. She gets more of a Scottie cut when I have her trimmed.

Tiffany: Thanks, and good mental image! :D Sometimes they're like grumpy children, aren't they?

Holly - Ali was an accidental breeding, and no one knew it had happened. The whippet jumped a 6 foot fence, did the deed, and jumped back out. The BC owners noticed their dog looked kinda pregnant, but they had no susupcions her suitor was their daughter's show dog until the BC had a bunch of little whippet-shaped babies.

MM - I think that was that horrific show storm in May, after the trees had all leafed out. The combined weight of ice on the leaves and the sudden sap-freeze was too much for some of the trees. All those beautiful Dutch elms, split down the middle, half laying shattered in the street, the other half raw scarred heartwood. Sigh.

MaskedMan said...

May sounds about right. Anyway, yeah, I do think it was after the trees had started to leaf out - Only just, but enough to fill the trunks with sap, hence the explosive shattering of the cottonwoods; The elms just split and fell. I don't recall there being much snow - just ice everywhere, plating out thicker and thicker, until the powerlines were sagging under the weight, having become massive hawsers of ice, and tall trees were bent double. I still remember the periodic expeditions out into the cold to knock the ice off our trees, lest they also shatter.

Michelle said...

We're having unseasonable weather in Alberta too - it it's been cold enough to freeze your nose together for over a week now, and usually we only get a few days of that in late January or February. Here's hoping winter gets all the nasty weather out of it's system now, and isn't gearing up for something even worse!

Deborah said...

It's colder than normal here in Illinois also -- definitely more like January or February than December. But the Farmer's Almanac said it was going to be an unusually cold one this winter. How do they do that?

Stop over at my blog, where I posted a recipe for really yummy chocolate chip muffins today. Good food definitely makes winter more bearable.


AKDD said...

Michelle, from your lips to God's ear! I have to be gone for a several days in January, so I"m hoping for mild-ish temps - not enough to melt anything, but not enough to freeze my pipes.

Deborah, thx for the recipe! (Did oyu see that, MM?) You guys should seriously check it out. It looks uber-yummy. Maybe I'll bake this afternoon.... although the goat milk season is over for the year, here. I'm hoping to dairy one of my ewes this spring, if all goes well..... because God knows I don't have enough to do as it is.... :D

Deborah said...

The goat milk is not flowing very well around here either. We're down to just one doe, and she's not giving much more than a cup a day, so we're rationing milk too. Pretty soon there won't be enough for anything more than my morning coffee. :(

Dragon43 said...

You know I read them all. Much fun. You see the color and talk about the feelings so well. Your stories are like being there, I can see, hear, smell and feel the air.

Now, in payment for that.... oops, was that out loud?

MaskedMan said...

Yup, I saw that, AKDD! Thanks, Deborah! I know you didn't post that recipe with me in mind, but my wife thanks you anyway - She's a fiend for chocolate chip muffins, and I surprised her tonight!

Laurie said...

Our dog has a similar shape; I found a coat on Lands End last year that works well for her waspish waist and deep keel. :-) It's fleecy on the inside; some sort of woven cloth on the outside.

It took us a while to get her used to it, but the combo of getting out the jacket AND the leash made it bearable.

Deborah said...

Glad you enjoyed the muffins, MM!

Bill Fosher said...

I'll bet that sort of weather cuts down on the barebacking you wrote about earlier!

AKDD said...

Dragon, thanks for teh kind remarks about the descriptiveness of my writing. If you now have frostbite, my work here is done! :D (As repayment, check out that muffin recipe! I'm sure you'll feel more than compensated.)

Bill: You got THAT right. Alaskans are tough, but we aren't suicidal.

Everyone who's in the cold: stay warm!