It was 8F the other morning, so before taking my little red Cavalier Bisou out for a walk I dressed her for the weather. By the time I had zipped her into her coat and stuffed her limp feet into her booties and fastened the Velcro straps around her ankles and loosened them so she wouldn’t get gangrene and then tightened them again so they’d stay on, twenty minutes had elapsed.
Once we got outside, she felt so encumbered by all that gear that she just wanted to go back indoors.
This is why on days when it is too cold/snowy/icy/rainy I exercise Bisou indoors. It is one of the joys of having a small dog: you can give her a real workout even in a space as small as our cottage. After fifteen minutes of running and jumping after her ball, Bisou considers herself well entertained.
I get a little workout too, doing forward bends to pick up the ball and perfecting my throws with both right and left arms, avoiding hitting the glass-fronted china cabinet and my spouse’s head. And the cat Telemann, who if Bisou and I went for a walk would be left staring forlornly out the window, also gets a workout during these sessions.
Sometimes he runs after the ball along with Bisou. Or he perches on the back of the sofa and bats at the ball as it flies past him. But what he likes best is to hide behind one of the side doors. Then, as Bisou runs past him, he leaps out like Nureyev and executes a grand jeté over her back.
When we’re done, Bisou flings herself panting on the sofa, where I join her with my book. Soon we hear a thunderous purr and Telemann is upon us, literally, kissing and nosing and kneading both of us until he finally dozes off.
These are dark days, in more ways than one, but the weight of two contented animals on my lap grounds me and keeps me from obsessing fruitlessly about the state of the planet. 2017 has not been an encouraging year, and its waning moments are as soul bruising as its beginning.
How to get through this bleak midwinter? Let\’s try to be kind and generous, and then let us find comfort in the good things at hand: the chickadee at the suet, the geranium on the sill, and the certain knowledge that tomorrow the earth, bless her, will once again tilt her face toward the sun.
Happy solstice, everyone!