Monday, January 14, 2008


After a week or so of relatively warm weather, it is once again COLD in Minnesota. Since we're going to have a week where we may not see 10 degrees, I decided to take Jasper out for his daily walk in the middle of the afternoon, with maximum sun and thus perhaps maximum warmth. That warmth turned out to be seven degrees (windchill of -12).

I bundled up in my ski bibs, heavy jacket, and fleece face protector, with my iPod nestled into an inner layer (it's 5 years old and dies the moment it's exposed to frigid temperatures) so that I could listen to Harry Potter while we walked.

We set off, Jasper jogging along completely unconcerned by the cold. We brushed him yesterday, so he has even more fluff than normal, and we've never seen him bothered a bit by low temperatures. His paws have been fine, so he hasn't even been wearing his booties.

Jasper was having a lovely time, and I was quite cozy inside my layers of fleece and Gore-Tex, so we headed past the last bike path bridge and onto the grass (now snow and ice)-covered path that continues to follow the Zumbro River. We often play with Jasper there, but this time he spotted something that looked way more fun than running around in circles! The Rochester geese camp out in this part of the Zumbro for the winter, as runoff from the power plant keeps the water unfrozen. Jasper had shown some minor curiosity about the geese before, but today he set off at a dead run across the grass, down the rocky bank, across the sandbar, and, with me looking on in horror and disbelief, jumped with an enormous splash straight into the river.

This has been our nightmare since it got chilly and we started calling Jasper away from the river on our nightly rambles. With Alex still at work and nowhere near a car, I executed Plan A for "Jasper Jumps In the River in the Freezing Cold": run home.

Jasper, perhaps recognizing the desperation in my tone, ran back up the bank when I called, ran a few circles around me, then stopped and tried to shake. He seemed a little startled when that didn't work: the water had already frozen on him, and he looked just like a tree after an ice storm (and rustled like one, too). I re-leashed him and we headed off at a jog back down the bike path. He still looked completely unconcerned, no shivering or discomfort evident on his face or in his gait. It took us perhaps ten minutes to get back to the house.

We ran up to the solar-warmed porch, where I left Jasper for a moment to grab towels, shed my now far-too-heavy layers, and snatch Alex's camera (Jasper still looked totally content, so I wasn't about to let this event pass without documentation).

The towels didn't do much against the ice, so I ended up just picking Jasper up, dropping him in the tub, and pouring warm water all over the icy parts of him to dissolve it off. He seemed quite bemused by this entire frantic set of events, but still didn't forget his manners: my mumbled "shit!" as I was sluicing water over him produced a lovely sit in the bathtub. So, he's dumb enough to jump in the water when it's 7 degrees, but smart enough to interpret accents. Go figure.

Now he's back in his customary spot by the couch, lying on his fleece blankie and covered in towels.

He seems completely fine—we'll keep an eye on him until he's totally dry, and I'll pull out the hairdryer if he looks cold, but I think that the terror of the roaring device would not go over well.


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