We have a real winter going on in the Northeast. This is the coldest one of the five that my dog Celeste and I have shared. I’m reminded of that whenever we head out to take care of “business”.
Celeste and I met the year I turned fifty. Becoming parents to a dog was something that we didn’t plan for –unlike my son, who followed her about a year and a-half later into our household — it was something that I was going to do when I could afford a couple of acres for the pooch to roam. We live in an 1895 Victorian townhouse and our yard doesn’t even fit a decent size Chevrolet. Besides, the house was already occupied by two cats I had adopted when my wife and I moved in together.
But I saw a photo of Celeste, a rescued pup in an all-cat Connecticut shelter, and I could not resist. I immediately made arrangements to bring her home. Of the thousands of photos in my media library, the ones of our first meeting, at a rest stop midway between New Jersey and New Heaven, are certainly some where I appear happiest. The smiles are of a grown man whose forty-year wish had been granted.
This is probably why none of my pet parenting responsibilities have ever felt like a chore. But a walk outside, when the temperature in my freezer feels a few degrees warmer, tests that assertion.
I wear two pairs of pants, three sweaters under my coat, two caps and the heaviest pair of socks I own. Celeste wears only her yellow coat. I pop in the earphones with the warmest music I can find on my collection and off we go. We usually walk about a mile. In the warmer seasons we do twice as much. There are very few people we encounter on our walks this time of year, usually other dogs walking their owners and the occasional crazy runner, incredibly under-dressed.
We run into a family friend. We both exchange complains about the weather, but Celeste is just happy to see him. She stands on hear hind legs to hug him.
The biggest worry of our walk, besides frost bite, is avoiding the ice-melting chemical pellets littering the frozen ground. I considered pink booties once, but I gave up on the idea. A look at Celeste and you’ll realize she’s not the “booties” type. I wash and dry her paws instead, after we get home.
Celeste has always lived up to the expression “a dog is a person’s best friend”. She does it without really trying, it seems.
I just want to return the love.