Winter in Alberta: it’s gloomy, wretched, merciless. Cold.
It’s a dry cold, the kind that gives you nosebleeds, turns your skin into scales, and makes a remote car starter a fundamental necessity.
For a migrant to Alberta such as myself, winter can really sip, swallow, and sop up every bit of your joy if you let it. Just ask my dog, Havarti.
Chihuahuas, for obvious reasons, are not indigenous to Alberta. In fact it’s a wonder to me they survive here at all. Most days Princess Havarti feels it’s too cold to walk outside. I’ll take her a few steps, and she’ll come to a fast halt, refusing to move any further whilst inducing an unrestrained fit of tremors; this of course is enough to make me feel painfully guilty and eventually return her to the indoors.
I can’t help but think about doggie booties and doggie sweaters. Who created these?! I agree they are somewhat of a necessity in a cold climate, but I can’t help but feel that I am inflicting actual physical and psychological damage to my dog when I make her wear these things.
There was once a time when I tried to train Havarti to wear little booties. I tried several different varieties: one style resembled a cheap latex balloon, while another was a pair of bubblegum-pink, fur-trimmed, sequined slippers that looked like suitable adornments for Baby Spice’s big toe.
The book said, “Feed her lots of treats and give her lots of praise so she associates the boots with rewards.” Oh, simple. When I first put the boots on Havarti, she was so panic-stricken that she became totally immobilized. She literally froze, like a statue, and stared at me blankly. She was confused why I kept saying “Good girl,” and incessantly feeding her treats. With much coaxing, she eventually lifted a foot and tried to walk.
It was like watching Bambi attempt to take his first step.
I watched her fall, in slow motion: a solid puppy face-plant.
Deadweight, she surrendered to the fall, legs sprawled out awkwardly like a cockroach on its back. Finally, my guilt got the best of me and I removed her coat and sparkly boots. Approximately ten seconds later, she stress-puked the very glut of treats I had attempted to create a positive association with…all over the area rug.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson.