Groundhog Day (Wednesday, February 02, 2005) - There was mixed news for winter-weary Canadians desperate enough to count on a handful of bewildered rodents to predict how much longer winter will drag on.
A cheery prediction by Ontario's Wiarton Willie, who emerged before a chanting crowd and didn't see his shadow - a sign of early spring - was offset by two other furry forecasters suggesting a long winter.
Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam, a woodchuck that lives in a heated den where's he pampered with carrots and broccoli, waddled out of his cosy nursery Wednesday and saw his shadow, suggesting another six weeks of wintry weather.
Pennsylvania's Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow on Gobbler's Knob after being pulled from his burrow in an oak stump by a top-hatted handler.
Dear Springer Enthusiasts:
I hope that Wiarton Willie's prediction of an early spring is correct. I can't abide the thought of six more weeks of that cold winter wind; little hairy paws full of snow; my ongoing (and not too favourable!) relationship with my snow-blower and my big circular driveway and all of the cold weather warnings on the news.
Yet, no matter what Old Man Winter throws at us, my Springers are standing at the back door, their little tails wagging, impatient to go out and romp in the snow. There are so many winter games that the Springers seemed to have invented this year: the chase around the big snowdrift (the dogs can't walk over it anymore without sinking); lots of rabbit tracks in the snow that lead to secret places in our woods (and then, of course, coming back with half of the forest in your coat!); digging under the snow looking for field mice and mole!; and the new favourite game here at Nanjay -- let's see how far out in the woods we can drag Mom's snow shovel.
It seems that the only time they all sit on the deck is when I am out retrieving the shovel -- when I am heading back to the house I see the gang leaning on the rail of the deck watching me (and I think I can hear them giggling!). It seems that sometimes they enjoy watching me trudge through the snow as much as I enjoy watching them play in it.
February is also the month that hosts Valentine's Day. So from the Nanjay Fur Patrol, Happy Valentine's Day to all!
I want to remind everyone to keep those delicious chocolate and candy Valentine treats up and away from your Springers. Some Springers are 'counter-surfers', so if you live with one of those (and shame on you for not doing some training to end that behaviour) make sure that all goodies are inaccessible. Most of you know that chocolate is considered to be a poison to a dog, but you might have to remind the rest of the family.
I would like to take this opportunity to send our praise to Coquette and her owner. Coquette is a sweet little liver and white girl, a year and a half old, and is also known as "Nanjay's La Belle Coquette". We are very proud of this team -- they have just passed all of the tests and now Coquette is an official Pet Therapy Dog. They will be visiting Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where Coquette's 'mom' already does some volunteer work. Applause to Coquette and her 'mom'! We are proud of you both.
I wanted to remind all of the Springer owners who live in the city of a couple of things. If you are walking your dog on the streets or the sidewalks, please be diligent about rinsing your dog's feet off with some lukewarm water when returning home. It's not so much the dirt I am concerned about staying on your pup's feet (though it is a drag if they bring half of the city's sludge in with them) it is the salt used on the roads and sidewalks.
Another product that I am seeing used a lot more this winter is a salt/antifreeze combination that you buy in a pellet-type form. Lots of vendors are using this to keep the walks and parking lots safe for pedestrians. But what's good for us could be deadly for the dogs. Also remember to keep an eye on where your Springer's nose is when you are out for that walk -- antifreeze is poison and quite often there is spillage from your neighbour's latest windshield wiper or radiator fill up on the street or driveway.
That's about it for now. It's almost dark and I have to go outside and hunt for my snow shovel. Hmm, I think I hear the dogs giggling again.
Take care, and as always, have fun with your Springers.