My Name is Chico and I Love Snow

This photoblog just might impact my popularity, but I’m going to post it anyway. You see, thing is, I have to confess … I love snow.

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It’s March 30, a week into spring according to the calendar, and it’s snowing … again. And I know many of you who live in Alberta or other places where winter is lingering are not very happy about it.

So, on this cold, wintry, snowy Fur-iday, I bring you … da ta da da! … the upside of snow.

It is the best thing to roll in, bar none. If you don’t believe me, try it! Get out there and make a snow angel!

You won’t find a better cardio workout anywhere and, if you get thirsty, you can just eat snow.03-chico-snow!-cardio

It turns brown prairie into a winter wonderland.03-chico-snow!-prairiescene

You can see the tracks left by wildlife that have travelled through, like these moose tracks we came across one ski day.03-chico-snow!-moosetracks

And the tracks are filled with scent!03-chico-snow!-moosetracks2

So, let’s recap. You can bathe in it, eat/drink it, exercise in it and on it, animals can’t travel through it without leaving evidence, it pretties up a barren landscape before the grass and leaves get here, and provides moisture for those very same grass and leaves.

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Oh, of course. It makes a great backdrop for a photo of a red dog. Don’t you think?

So, next time you look out your window and are tempted to frown at the snow, just think of me, on my back, rolling in it like it’s the best substance on earth. ‘Cause, since snow is just soft, white pieces of frozen water, it kinda is.03-chico-snow!-snow

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Home Sweet Snowy Home

We saw the first snow not far outside Las Vegas, just a little, high on a mountain, but there it was, snow. In Utah there was lots of it up high, and even some lower down. By Idaho the snow had reached the road level in places. Montana was snow covered until we reached the far north where the Chinook winds had removed the snow from the fields in patches. Southern Alberta was similar, lots of melting.

Then, as we travelled those final miles from Lethbridge home, the world outside the truck windows grew steadily whiter, until it was just a sea of white under a bright, blue sky.

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Almost home.

There usually isn’t any snow on the ground when we return from the south. Partly because we’re three or more weeks later, but also because there was a huge amount of snow while we were gone this year, with most of it falling in the last month.  Records were broken. Luckily for us, we had some good friends looking after our farm and the snow had been cleared from the driveway and the walks. Thanks, Judy and John for making it possible for us to reach the house (and the couch)!

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Logan gets the couch in Sid but I get the one in the house (okay, only because he can’t climb up on it anymore)

Someone commented that it must have been a big shock to go from Arizona to Alberta in a few days. For me, it’s actually a series of small shocks throughout the journey. I go to sleep in the desert, I wake up in the trees. I go to sleep with dry land all around, I wake up to snow. I go to sleep in Utah, I wake up in Idaho. Surprise after surprise over two thousand kilometres.

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Rolling into the nicely plowed yard.

By the time we arrived home, I’d adjusted to the change of scenery and climate, and was ready for the snow. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount and type of snow. With the frequent warm winds in southern Alberta in winter (called Chinooks) there’s usually enough melting and refreezing to create a thick enough crust on top of any deep snow to support my weight. This year it stayed colder and the crust is only thick enough to make me think I’m good before I break through into the dry, grainy stuff underneath. It’s a bit like trying to swim in thick, slippery water.

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Breaking through the crust.

T took me along when she went skiing on Monday. It was a beautiful day and I was so excited when we started out. But holy hell was it tough going. Three steps on top of the snow, four floundering, one step on top, two floundering, half a dozen on top (yay!) and then, just when I’d start to think I was home free, I’d break through again. We did half a mile like that. Well, I did. T skied along without a care. We finally reached a snowmobile track and, wow, did that make a difference. I could run! I’m not sure if they make snowshoes for dogs, but I’ll be surfing Amazon when I’m finished with this blog post.

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Ski day.

Out walking, we’ve been sticking to the road. There’s just too much snow everywhere else and if you think I have trouble you should see poor Logan. T’s had to yard him out of a snow bank a couple of times when he wandered off the side of the road to smell something and broke through into the deep stuff.

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Walking along Range Road 262 heading home.

The crazy thing is, it snowed again yesterday. I’m just hoping the warm weather we had on Tuesday and Wednesday was enough to put a better crust along the ski trail for the next time T straps on the boards.

Trying Times

An absent Teresa, a vanishing Nollind, and a worried and whiney companion. Could my week have been any worse? Well, in truth, probably, but it still wasn’t good.

It all started on Friday when Teresa packed her suitcase and didn’t return with Nollind when he came home. No problem. It’s happened before. Teresa gets on a plane to BC to see family, Nollind stays here to look after things, and we’re all fine … except for Chico. He worries. Who will get me my breakfast? Who will take us for walks? What if she doesn’t come home? Usually, after a couple of days of not starving, he starts to settle into the new routine and relax. Always such a relief, especially for me.

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All was well … there was even quiche!

On Tuesday afternoon, I was in the house napping when Chico came rushing in saying something had happened. Apparently, Nollind had been up on a ladder by the fifth wheel, preparing it for our winter travels, and the next thing Chico knew he was being ushered quickly inside and Nollind and his dad, David, were driving away. A bit odd but nothing too worrisome. I assured my fretting companion that they were likely just going for supplies and I went back to sleep.

As I predicted, they were back by dinner, but something was odd. Nollind had a strange, lime green sleeve from his hand to his elbow, and he was in a hurry. We were fed, let outside, and then we were back inside and they were gone again. Hm … okay, now I was getting a little concerned, but still not worth losing sleep over. Maybe they’d gone for dinner. I curled up on the guest room bed and went to sleep.

The original green sleeve

It was dark when the neighbour came to let us out for a bedtime constitutional. Although it hasn’t happened often in the twelve years I’ve lived here, there has been the odd occasion when someone has come to let us out and/or feed us when Teresa and Nollind are going to be extra late. No reason to panic.

I woke up in the morning, surprised I hadn’t heard Nollind come in. I went downstairs to the bedroom to get my usual morning cuddle beside him on the bed. No Nollind. The bed was empty. Strange.

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Morning cuddle time before “the incident”

Chico was still asleep and I thought it best to leave him that way as long as possible. If he woke up and discovered that Nollind hadn’t come home he was likely to have a seizure. I tiptoed out of the room and back upstairs just in time to see the neighbour at our door. Chico heard the door open and came running, initially too excited about having someone there and getting fed to wonder why Nollind wasn’t around—but that didn’t last long. As soon as we were back inside from a morning romp it started: Where were they? What’s happened to Nollind? Why have they left us? What if they never come back? Who will cook our food? What if we live here alone forever?

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A worried, pouting Chico.

Worrying is such wasted energy. It doesn’t stop the bad things from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good. Was I a bit worried? Of course. Nollind is my best friend and he was missing. Did I think we were going to have to resort to eating the cat (heaven forbid) or each other? Of course not. It was obvious to me that our very good neighbours had been alerted to whatever the situation was so we were going to be fine. If I’d been able to muzzle Chico or sedate him for a couple of days, things would have been even better.10-trying-times

Later that day, the neighbours were back again, this time to take us for a walk. Some play time with my friend Coco, a walk, some dinner, and I was a happy dog, ready for a nap. Chico, on the other hand, continued with the whining and worrying. Although I was missing our people too, and they’d never left us overnight without having someone staying in the house, things seemed well in-hand. I rested easy that second night.

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Evening walk with the neighbours.

Thursday morning, David’s truck rolled down the driveway. Nollind had returned! The lime-green sleeve was gone and had been replaced with a white bandage and a sling. A few hours later, the neighbour brought Teresa home, from the airport I assume. As I’d been telling Chico for two days, all was well.

It turned out Nollind had fallen from a ladder and broken his arm. His dad took him to the emergency in Strathmore where they put him in a cast but also sent him to a specialist at a Calgary hospital. After feeding us that first night, they went to Calgary where he was admitted for surgery the next day. Because Teresa wasn’t home to keep an eye on him after surgery they had to keep him overnight on Wednesday. Thursday he was released from hospital and Teresa flew home to look after all of us.

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They even took us along to town on Thursday night so Chico wouldn’t be traumatized by being left at home so soon after their absence

A much different, and logical picture than the ones Chico had painted. Let’s see, there was the, “They’ve decided we’re too much trouble and have gone travelling without us!”, which made absolutely no sense since the truck and trailer were still sitting in the yard. And then there was the terrible fiery crash theory—unlikely since one was travelling by plane and one by truck. What were the odds? But my personal favourite had to be, “T has been abducted by aliens and Nollind has gone off looking for her!” Precisely why I stay upstairs on movie nights—Chico watches far too many movies.

Well, best get a move on. Dame Dixie is here for a visit and it sounds like we’re about to head out for a walk. We’ll tell you all about her visit next time.

 

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Sunset walk with Dixie