I’ll tell you what. I have lived in Minnesota. I know what cold feels like. I spent a couple of winters in Anchorage. I know what big snow looks like. I grew up at the South Jersey shore. I am familiar with bone cutting, sand carrying, January winds that administer the midseason microdermabrasion treatments. Stings a bit when the feeling comes back into your cheeks.
Now I’m in Buffalo. And I am becoming expert in the wintry mix. Sloppy. Gusty. Raw. The Christmas pine garlands are flopping all over the place. And dog walks are wretched.
Sorry, that was Miss Tibbit interrupting us. This afternoon she pranced onto the back porch, got blasted in the face with a sleety snow, and turned around to come back inside. Wasn’t worth it. No thank you ma’am.
Buffalo winter means that Hamish the Corgi and Sweet Tibbit come home from walkies with salty wet feet. Hamish’s undercarriage is a cindery mucky mess. Every time. (The cat just sneezed in my wine by the way. Just saying. Nice moment.) If I leave the dogs alone I have mud on the sofa, salt foot prints all over the house, maybe a sick dog because I guess they aren’t supposed to lick that rock salt.
So. Every day, several times a day, we do the lemme see the other side routine. The dogs know and when it is gross outside they climb the first set of steps and wait for me in the hall landing. I unglove, unshoe, unhat, uncoat, unscarf, grab the dog towel, and crouch down. Hamish stands stiffly in front of me and presents his near foot – usually port side, held high in the air. I wipe it, rub his chest under there. Let go. He steps forward and balances his weight on the starboard side. I wipe the back foot, wipe the belly, let go. Miss Tibbit, who is anxious that this isn’t going fast enough, pushes past. “Lemme see the other side,” I tell Hamish.
He steps forward a bit, performs a Corgi K-turn, hoves into reach and presents his starboard foot. Wipe. Forward. Wipe. “Next,” I say. Miss Tibbit appears in my face, one front foot in the air. Wipe. She steps forward. Back foot wipe. “Other side,” I say, like a train conductor announcing the stop. Tibbit steps away and carefully negotiates a turn, presenting the other front foot. Wipe. Forward. Wipe.
The dogs assemble conveniently near the dog treat storage area while I drape the dog towel on the heater. It’s irritating, the dogs get rubbed with a warm towel after the Buffalo winter walks. What am I running here, a dog spa?
Anyway, I rattle the lid of the treat jar and toss snacks into waiting maws. “Alright,” I tell them, “I’ve got work to do,” and we head back up to the desk. Oh boy, only a couple of hours until the next Buffalo winter dog walk.