What initially was proving to be a mild winter, has taken a turn for the worse. I think it has snowed almost every day in February? And when I say snow, I mean winter storm snow. And while the current 3 day long storm was deemed “Winter Storm Nadia” I’m still over it and want it to go away.
Last winter we had almost no snow, and while this is an anomaly in Idaho, I can’t say I minded. Especially since I am reminded this winter how much work snow blowing and shoveling are.
And while I could spend this post bitching about winter in Idaho, how fun is that? Instead I wanted to give some thoughts on having an old dog in the winter and prepare people for what may be to come when their pets become seniors.
The short story is that Stella is struggling with winter now that we have all this snow. And While I usually shovel paths for the dogs in my yard, I’ve decreased them significantly now that the snow has gotten over 4′ in my yard and there’s really nowhere to put the snow. How does this impact my old dog? Well, it reduces the area she has to potty, but what’s worse is that it changes up her routine.
Stella is basically blind. She has limited daylight vision and really cannot see at all in the dark. Now, imagine having that limited of vision, and your entire world becomes a white blob. And that white blob changes from day to day, meaning you sometimes walk into snow piles because yesterday they were still a path you could walk on.
Because she is stubborn and strong willed, she is figuring it out. She refuses to actually poop in my yard, which means that no matter the weather, we’re going for a walk down the road. She’ll try to get off the road, into the snowbank, as she’s discreet about using the bathroom, but often times the snow is way too deep for this. So, I encourage her not to go into the deep snow, but Stella hasn’t listened to me for 15 years. Why would she start now.
I’ve basically started keeping her on leash all the time. I can kind of control where she goes and keep her from getting too far into a snowbank.
In addition to snow, we’ve also had some very cold weather. And while Stella has some great winter coats to keep her warm, she hates putting them on. Again, this dog has opinions, and putting her head through a hole and having a coat put on, elicits a grunt EVERY time. And while she seems a bit more stiff and sore, she still trot hops around when the snow is cleared from her path for her.
I’m super hopeful that Stella gets to enjoy nice weather again. Seeing her struggle with the current conditions makes me realize just how hard winter is for senior dogs. If nothing else, even though she dislikes it, she looks super cute in her coat.