Saturday, January 22, 2011
European Snow Dog
Erin's introduction to snow came upon arrival at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. There was no hesitation or displeasure as the white flakes floated downward and covered her from head to tail but after an exhausting day of travel from Savannah to Deutschland with a layover at JFK, she was game for anything but reentering the crate. Born and residing in Southeast Georgia definitely limited her chances of seeing any snowfall other than a few flurries but spending two harsh winters in Europe made up for that deficiency without a doubt. Despite her lack of experience in a winter wonderland, she was quite adept at running aimlessly, chasing her canine friends, pursuing rabbits, and casually relaxing during a heavy snowfall. I'm chalking the fearlessness and instinct up to those hardy Springer Spaniel genes.
One of our neighborhood haunts in Germany, Luisenpark in Mannheim provided a vast open expanse where dogs could run to their hearts content and the assembled gathering of canines fetched balls, sticks, and other objects while avoiding the multitude of children racing down the hill on sleds and toboggans. Erin loved rolling onto her back and squirming with pleasure as she displayed a broad grin and then she'd return upright to shake out the fur-trapped snow. It was great to be a dog in a snow caked land. She always made friends with the foreign brethren and playing tug of war while being pelted by a deluge of snow was great fun for her . An exhilarating game of chase regularly took place with a billowing trail of snow thrown upwards for the trail dogs to inhale, it was good to be the lead dog. Rabbit chasing proceeded year round despite the weather conditions and even a total whiteout couldn't deter Erin from her internal drive.
While she displayed no hesitation about participating in outdoor activities, Erin learned there were limitations and hazards during these periods as the green grass became blanketed by a coat of ice crystals. While trotting along or sniffing her way across a field, often she would sink up to her belly in an apparent bottomless pit of snow. I'd attempt to call her back to my side but occasionally she couldn't move because of newly formed snow boots, so with arms wrapped around her mid-section she would be hoisted out and carried to a safe zone. Snowdrifts we could tolerate but the ice and slush was another story altogether. Hidden ice along our walking routes provided a headache as Erin tumbled to the ground unexpectedly but promptly she would spring to her feet, crack a smile, and look up to say "What the heck?" The slush was a major hindrance to fun as Erin's underbelly became completely soaked if she unfortunately fell through a patch of thin ice or stepped into the pool of icy water while not paying attention. Upon arrival back at out apartment, she would always shake off the excess water and melting snow covering her coat while I'd fetch a towel to dry her off completely.
Erin had an amazing time romping around in the snow and despite her inexperience in the conditions, proved she was a natural winter dog. I can't recall any instances when she was miserable from the sub-freezing temperatures and ever suppressing whiteness. Across 12 European countries, the snow crunched under her paws, her nose circulated the continuous flakes, and her liver colored patches was turned pale by winters wrath. It was a great time in her life, she had endless amounts of fun, and never did she lose that mesmerizing smile. RIP Erin!!