The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 12, 2012

Mike Pound: Cold weather curtails dog’s beloved activity

By Mike Pound

— Sunday night, I stuck my head outside and decided I didn’t want to walk our German shepherd, Shilo.

See, it was chilly Sunday night. It wasn’t freezing, but it was cold enough for me to opt out of the walk and continue watching the football game. I figured, since we have a fenced backyard, that Shilo could do what most dogs do: go out by herself.

But Shilo is spoiled, and when I called her and told her to go outside, she just stood at the door and stared at me like I was Karl Rove arguing that Ohio was still in play.

“Go on, Shilo,” I said.

“You go on,” Shilo probably said back to me.

Shilo knew that if she agreed to go outside on her own, there was no way she was getting a walk. She would clearly prefer a stroll through our neighborhood over a stroll in our backyard.

“Shilo, go outside,” I said.

“You go outside, two feet,” Shilo probably said back to me.

Finally, I was able to nudge Shilo outside, and then I shut the door and went back to the football game. A few minutes later, when I let Shilo back inside, she walked past me without saying a word and went upstairs to sulk.

Shilo and I are entering the hibernation stage of our morning and evening walks. As the weather changes and things get colder, I am less inclined to stroll through our neighborhood with Shilo when we have a perfectly good backyard. And when you combine a cool evening with an NFL football game on TV — well, Shilo doesn’t get a walk.

On Monday morning, after I got our 14-year-old daughter, Emma, off to school, Shilo was waiting for me in the kitchen. While I poured some coffee into a travel mug, and put on a jacket and a pair of gloves, Shilo was eagerly turning circles by the door.

“Want to go for a walk?” I asked.

Shilo barked and went from turning a clockwise circle to turning a counterclockwise circle, which is the international dog signal for “Yes, I would very much like to go for a walk!”

I’ve had to pull a jacket on a few times already this fall, but Monday morning was the first time I added the gloves. As far as I’m concerned, if I have to wear extra clothes on our walks, it’s time for Shilo to become one with the backyard. I don’t like to walk in the cold.

That’s one reason I don’t like to go hunting. The other reason I don’t like to go hunting is because you usually have to get up early to go hunting. Seldom, in hunter talk, do you hear something like this: “Yep, me and Bart is going turkey hunting tomorrow. We’ll probably leave around noon.”

On our walk Monday, I convinced Shilo that we didn’t need to take a long walk. After Shilo checked to make sure the big yard surrounding the vacant house on our street was free of squirrels and rabbits, I steered her back in the direction of our house rather than continuing to the next street over. For a second, Shilo tried to pull me the other direction, but by that time the wind was causing my eyes to water, so I tugged Shilo’s leash and she reluctantly followed me home.

I suspect Shilo and I will have a few more walks like the one we had Monday, and then, as the mornings and evenings really turn cold, I suspect our walks will stop for a while. Shilo won’t like the fact that our walks will stop, but she’ll accept it. That’s what dogs do.

But then maybe in February or certainly by March, the mornings and evenings will begin to get warmer again. And then some morning, I will pour a cup of coffee, grab a jacket and a pair of gloves, and ask Shilo if she wants to go out.

And Shilo will turn a counterclockwise circle.

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