In this odd semi-tropical winter, today is the third time I've had to shake heavy, wet snow off the young apple trees so their branches wouldn't break under the weight. But that is nothing comparing to what I had to do after my husband brought the dogs back from their walk. Wolfie and Lexi, the German Shepherds, came in bright-eyed and exhilarated by the cold. But Bisou, low to the ground and with five-inch, orange-gold "feathers" on her forelegs, collected so much snow that she came into the house hung with snow balls like a Chrismas tree.
When she's indoors, Bisou honors her five-century Cavalier King Charles heritage, lolling about on sheep skins and diving, the moment I stand up, into the warm spot on the sofa. But let her out the door, and she is all Spaniel, sniffing the breeze, running through brambles, collecting ticks or, if the temperature is right, five-inch snow balls. I quizzed my husband closely upon their return today, and he said that she had kept running the entire time, showing no discomfort despite the snow balls pulling her skin, weighing her down.
The snow balls were so dense and so big that I had to gently break them up with an ice pick. The next tool, and one that Bisou has always been wary of, was the hair dryer. But this time she seemed to understand her situation, and submitted. I let her finish drying off and relax the rest of the afternoon, and waited until evening to tackle the mats.
Bisou is not a show dog, and I am anything but a show-dog person. Still, of an evening, it is a joy to me to watch all that orange and gold rippling over the grass. But alas, no more. As the first snow balls glommed on to the end of Bisou's hair strands, her running made the hairs twirl around each other, which in turn collected more snow, whose weight caused the hairs to twist more tightly. In a word, her leg feathers were such a mess of mats that in the end I had to play Alexander the Great, and just cut through those evil knots.
Who cares? Not Bisou, who is snoozing happily under my elbow and making it difficult for me to type. Not Wolfie, who just gave her face a thorough washing. I do, with my human prejudices, the same prejudices, I suppose, that led the bewigged minions of Charles the Second to breed mini-sized hunting dogs with long-silky hair, the "spaniels gentle," who liked to sit on laps.