Outdoors Column: A Permanent Resident

Jag, the terrier, is an outside dog. He has always lived in his dog house beside the back door and seems to like it that way. He never tries to come inside. Staying outside works well for us as he keeps deer and other wildlife away from the house and garden. This all changed when the brutally cold weather struck last week. The garage is heated and Jag figured out that it is pretty nice in there. If he happens to be outside when the garage door goes up, he runs inside and jumps on his bed that has been placed near the heater. From there, he can curl up and pretend he is invisible.

The first night Jag was in, my wife and I were both wondering what we would find in the morning. It was just too cold to leave him outside but as far as we know, he has never been housebroken. Before we got him, he was also an outside dog. We were afraid he would deposit unpleasant surprises about or get into things we did not necessarily want strewn from one end of the garage to the other. Early that first morning, as is my routine, I put the coffee on and took Louie out. Jag, though not entirely convinced it was necessary, followed Louie out into the cold. I was pleasantly surprised to find nothing out of place or any nighttime deposits. When Louie knocked on the door to come back in, Jag was standing next to him, ready to get back to his bed.

Since Jag’s first night in, each day has been colder than the one before. We do not have the option of making him spend the night in his dog house now. I am hoping for a warm up so things will get back to normal. Each evening when I come home, deer are gathered in the driveway and eyeing the bird feeders and flower beds. If Jag were on the job rather than resting in a comfortable garage, no deer would dare venture into the yard.

This afternoon, Zane came over so we could go sledding. It was not my idea of a good time to go play in the snow when the temperature was ten below zero, but grandpas do what they have to do. We each wore most of the clothes we own as we headed out. It has been difficult to get Louie off the couch for more than a few minutes at a time for several days. Jag, most times, has to be forcibly coerced to go outside. Both dogs thought sledding was a wonderful idea. If they had to go outside on their own, they tried to avoid it. If a couple people were going along, frigid weather and snow covered ice was great fun.

After much sledding and freezing, I was the first one to decide we had all had enough fun. Going back to the house, Louie could only walk on three feet at a time. He alternated carrying one, trying not to freeze all four feet at the same time. From all the snow that sprayed up from the sled as he ran along, Jag was looking a bit frosty. He wanted to ride back to the house. Zane, Louie, and I hurried into the house to warm up. Jag curled up on his warm bed in the garage as happy as could be. I think we have a permanent resident in the garage rather than a useful outside dog