We've noticed Juno getting a little round in the midsection lately. Chalk it up to freezing temperatures and consequently way less exercise than she's used to getting, and you get a rolly dog. Not to mention that she's a Lab, so has zero filter when it comes to what goes in her mouth and has never had a tendency to be a picky eater.
A couple of things we do when the temperatures dip during the winter are:
Bones - Juno can chew happily on a bone or deer antler for hours - the mental exertion keeps her from going batty when we're stuck inside because of the weather.
Indoor games - "Find it" (hiding either one of us, toys, or bits of kibble - no need for extra treats - we just use half of her breakfast or dinner) or "Fetch" (good ol' ball or disc tossing in the house - all of her toys are soft, rubbery, and quiet, so we don't worry about breaking anything - and we've mastered the aim over the years).
When we do go out during the winter, we go out for shorter, more manageable walks - several times a day. Nobody wants to get stuck blocks away from home with a dog who's lifting up their paws because their foot pads are literally freezing to the ground! Going for walks in the daytime is also helpful - the sun is shining, so it feels warmer - and mentally it's more enjoyable too. There are more dogs, more people - and, in general, more bustle to keep a dog's brain going enough to tire her out. And the wind just seems to pick up more when it gets dark - or maybe it feels that way.
This was during the day.
These are some tips we use when the mercury takes a nosedive. What do you do to keep the pounds off your dog during the winter?
If you're like me, and work from home with a 4-legged friend in your midst, then you can likely identify with a few of the following truths about working with a dog at home:
1. Dogs know the routine
Every morning, after we say goodbye to Adam, Juno stays at the front door, enjoying a full glass door view, watching the neighbourhood kids go to school, the commuters walk to the bus stop, and, on Fridays, the garbage and recycling trucks making their way along our street. She then moves to her bed where she stays for the first two hours of the day, at least. On mornings when Adam is running early and has a few minutes to spare before he leaves for the day, we notice that Juno notices. She fishes for more toys, barks more, does more leg tunnels, or just stares at Adam until she sees him getting closer to leaving, as if to say, "Don't you have some place to be? You're throwing my schedule off."
2. Breaks do wonders
Five minutes is all it takes. A bathroom trip and a good yard sniff do wonders for Juno. I enjoy the fresh air and brief changes of scenery. My brain comes up with new ideas, or relaxes for a few short, quiet minutes in the yard. Now that it's summer, this is all it takes. On cold or rainy days, a short walk is still doable (and particularly refreshing - that cold blast of air really gets all the senses going!).
3. We get by with a little help from my background music
Background music helps. It drowns out traffic noise, kids playing, construction, even talking - and that stealthy cat across the street that Juno hears, or smells, or just senses somehow. It helps to mask the noises that alert her to the door. We have our favourites around here - mixes of Dido, Alexi Murdoch, The Beatles, and if we're feeling jaunty, Hootie & The Blowfish.
4. You need to eat and they try to share
I like to snack while I work. I eat my way through the day with quick grabs of yogourt, fresh fruit, cut veggies, juices, water, tea, etc. during the day. Some snacks Juno has gotten used to and has no interest in. Others, she vehemently tries to share with me. Favourites right now are cheese - she hears the packaging, bananas - she hears that first snap of the peel, and any leftovers or baking we've covered in plastic wrap, foil, Ziploc bags or any other crinkly-sound packaging. I don't give in, and she still tries every day.
5. Know one thing - the mail man is here to see her
Any time the front porch thumps, the world as we know it ends, and all are summoned to front door. Clearly, the mail man is here to see her, as is every delivery person, service technician, neighbourhood child selling chocolate bars, canvaser, salesperson... This can happen a handful of times during the day (real and "perceived" company at the front door are treated equally), so it's best to latch the glass screen door!
6. There is a witching hour
Dogs have built-in alarm clocks. Juno's end-of-day alarm clock is a force of nature. If we've ever made it all the way to 4:15PM, Juno will work through her repertoire of noises (huffing, groaning, squeak-yawning, sneezing, bumscooting) and stare at me from across the room or chase her tail, all in a bid for my attention. This dog is a one-woman sideshow. Honestly, I could charge admission. Solid leg nudges also work, as do borrowing shoes or dishtowels and proudly marching around with them, held held high. Dinner time is around 4:30, and Adam comes home not too long after, for the "big walk", so I schedule my day to end by 4PM. It's easier for everyone!
What about you? Does your dog do this too? Anything I missed? Honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world, but do you have to manage certain parts of your day differently to work around having a dog at home?
This greeted us in the kitchen after a hurried walk with the dog (it's too cold to go out for long, so we spend more of our time taking shorter, more frequent walks). Our stuff was all wet with snow, so we hung up mitts, hats, scarves, etc. on any surface we could find. This was apparently a good spot for two gloves and a dog towel. Bonus, it looked like a moose. Startled me at first, but then I thought it was kinda' hilarious.
We also reorganized our furnace room / 'man room' last week during our last few days off for Christmas. It went from this:
It looks and smells better...? Fresher. The last of our moving boxes have been collapsed and moved out. One resin shelf unit later and a few hours spent pitching, sorting, vacuuming, and re-stacking, we were pleased as punch.
This weekend we'll be giving the liveable side of the basement the same treatment and maybe taking down our Christmas trees - they're the last vestiges of Christmas still up. Oh and more walks, so more moose, loose.
What are you up to this weekend? Any cold weather organizing going on where you are? Stay warm!
How much of last year can you really remember? What is something you did that you are proud of? What made you laugh out loud? What surprised you? What was a memory worth saving?
Honestly, I don't think I could come up with quick answers for us for most of these questions. Maybe you can? If you can, kudos. Since I can't, I'm going to write them down this year. Little bits of the every day, and the big days, whatever is noteworthy in the moment. I'm going to pop them in my Good Times Jar for 2013 and we'll pull them out next New Year's Eve (or New Year's Day) to have a read through.
I'll be setting our jar up by the kitchen sink; it's the best place for it to be seen and, therefore, used. Remembering the good times - even that's a good time. Maybe that'll be the first addition to our jar!
Some other additions I might think about while getting started: goals we've set, goals we've accomplished, laugh out loud moments, good news, surprise moments, proud moments, hopes for the future. Memories worth saving. You think you might want to try it too?
In love with my husband, our dog, our house, our life. I left my 9-5 to write a series of children's books about our big, tireless, yellow Labrador, Juno. Follow along as I navigate the book project (and other bits of life) on "First Day of the Rest" and "Dear Dog Journal".