This morning when I let Lila outside, we were greeted by the freshly fallen snow that covered the dull and brown grass. Lila happily licked the ground getting a mouthful of the wet, cold stuff. Her big strides around the tree sadly made her leash wrap up to limit her “freedom.” I found my boots and went outside to get her. Lila dashed inside and watched me as I unraveled the leash. My footsteps and her paw prints marked up the once untouched blanket of snow.
Inside, Lila looked up at us as if to wonder why we were busy huddling over papers: Dad with the newspaper, Laura with photos and me with a cookbook searching for a mint cookie recipe that can be made quickly. Lila looked as if she couldn’t understand us. Why didn’t we want to go outside and play in the snow?
So I pulled on all the things I needed to keep me warm and cozy. When I opened the door to the garage, Lila bolted towards the van, the only vehicle around right now where Lila is allowed to enter. After I opened the large door to the garage, we were on our way. As I backed up, the tires crunched down the snow in the driveway. I was thankful that the streets had already been plowed.
As we got closer to the dog park, Lila started her usual whining and bouncing about. Sometimes her ears twitched to the sounds of the Christmas music coming from the dashboard. After we arrived, we noticed many other canine and human friends. People were hunched over with parka hoods trying to keep the flying snow out of their eyes. The snow was piling up on their shoulders and hoods making them look like walking snowmen.
The friendly dogs waited by the gate ready to greet Lila. Lila barked and jumped so high that she could almost go over the fence. When I got the gate open, Lila greeted a couple of dogs and anxiously looked at me because she wanted me to chuck the Chuck-It. She whined at me again, but so did Rex. Rex, a smaller black dog, that looked to be part pit bull, was ready for me to chuck the tennis ball too.
“Ok, ready?” I asked. Now four anxious eyes looked up at me. I knew Lila could outrun Rex. I chucked the ball, and they ran. Lila was in the lead and got the ball. Oops, Lila dropped the ball. Rex got it. Lila came back to me, still all smiles, but without a ball.
“Oops,” I said, as I saw Rex run off, lay down with the ball in between his front paws licking away at whatever disgusting things might be stuck to it. Rex stood up, shook his head back and forth, just the way Lila does, and as if to say, “I got it!” Rex with the ball made Rex happy.
“Go find another ball, Lila.” Lila ran to the usual spots, but today it was more difficult for her with all the fresh snow masking what she can usually sniff out right way. I followed her, and could not see one either. We circled around the park a couple more times enjoying the wintry wonderland still without a ball in sight and Rex still clinging onto the one I threw.
“I’m going to go get a ball from the van,” I told Lila. She sat down close to the gate and waited patiently, her eyes following me the entire time. I found one, grabbed it with the Chuck-It, and Lila bounced about again, as if she were a ball. Just as I was about to chuck it, Rex greeted us again, our first ball lost or forgotten. I thought about how pit bulls can get a bad rap, but Rex was a fine dog that just wanted to play.
I threw the ball, and Lila ran off fast, got it and held it tight this time. Rex went away to mind his own business. As I walked around the park again, Lila ran back and forth swinging her head from side to side, happy to have the tennis ball. The next time I looked, the ball was gone, but she did not complain. She ran in the snow following the other dogs around. One time I lost sight of her, and she came back to me from behind having run around the entire park by herself and all out of breath.
All the dogs seemed to be happier with the welcomed change of scenery. Last year, we didn’t get enough snow to run around and lose things in. This winter is turning out to be different, so far. The snow brightened up the gloom and made for some happy dogs and humans who had fun just playing in the snow.