Walking William at 6 a.m. this morning, with the temperature in the teens, was a chilling experience, but nothing like last winter. Last winter--with all the ice and snow and intense cold--we never got much more than a hundred feet from our house before William's paws got too cold to go on. This winter, while my finger ends grow numb in my gloves, William always wants to forge ahead, to check out the next tree, shrub, or lamp post.
On our walk this morning, I was reminded of a particularly cold morning last winter. We left our house at first light, heading east. When we'd gotten maybe five doors up the block, William squatted to do his business. I pulled off my gloves and fumbled to get a poop bag out of my pocket. My fingers were already numb with cold, so, in my clumsy efforts to pick up after my dog, I didn't notice that I'd dropped the leash. When I did, I looked around in panic for William. He was nowhere to be seen on the snow-covered sidewalk before me or across the street. How could a big black dog disappear in seconds without a trace?
Finally, I looked behind me, and there was William, heading back home at a trot. He had almost reached our stoop. He had done what he came out in the bitter cold to do, and now he wanted to be back where it was warm.