When all else fails…

Sometimes we let Sandy, our 10-year old small poodle, into the backyard (it’s fenced). Usually she scratches the door to be let in after about 10 minutes of exploring. Yesterday, after about 20 minutes, we could hear her barking in the distance – definitely not at the back door, where she usually stands and barks to be let back into the house. Seeing as how it was 0 celsius (or 32 Fahrenheit) and Sandy was wearing her trusty purple vest, I wasn’t concerned. But my wife started worrying that Sandy was stuck or trapped in the snow. Since I was wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants, I wasn’t keen on venturing outside. But after calling to Sandy a couple of times with no response, my wife insisted that one of us go check on Sandy.

Yes, as I mentioned in my previous post, my wife IS always right.

I threw on some boots and went outside without a jacket. Sure enough, Sandy was standing in the backyard, on the side of the house, wearing her purple vest. Except that: 1) the hood of her vest was hiked up over her head, completely covering her eyes and 2) she wasn’t moving.

I should mention that we purchased the vest to give her a sense of comfort and reassurance similar to the concept behind the ThunderShirt pictured below:


Thundershirt (model: unknown). Available from your local Bed, Bath and Beyond.


We tried the Thundershirt for Sandy, to try to reduce some of her anxiety, but it didn’t seem to do anything for her. We then went to Petsmart and tried the purple vest by North Fetch (yes, that’s right, a clever pun on the North Face but for pets, as pictured below).

North Fetch parka (model: also unknown). Available from your local Petsmart.

Her North Fetch vest has done wonders for her – she loves wearing it, it keeps her warm, and magically seems to reduce her anxiety significantly. It swaddles her and keeps her feeling secure.

The  North Fetch vest has a snap that locks the hood in place, preventing it from accidentally covering her face. Except on this occasion, Sandy had gone outside with the hood unsnapped, and somehow she managed to get it to cover her head entirely.

I called out to her. She did not move. Not one single muscle. Given her hyperactive personality, this was an absolutely unusual response. A brief moment of panic set in. Was she hurt? Were her paws frozen in place? Was she contemplating the vastness of the universe and her place in it? And no, she did not look cool, like a young Jedi in training wearing a helmet with a blast shield visor, learning to listen to her inner feelings and trust the ways of the Force:

Helmet with blast shield (model: Luke Skywalker). Available from any Rebel base (location: hidden).

I trudged up to her, slowly repeating her name. Nothing. Then it dawned on me. She had probably been standing in place like this for what must have seemed, to her at least, to be an eternity, rendered immobile by this temporary loss of sight, and clueless as to what to do. Like a computer program caught in a loop. (Of course, I should point out that her access to the legendary canine sense of smell was in no way impeded by the hood of her vest, but I digress). So I reached down and pulled the hood back so she could see again…

…and the second she saw the light, she exploded out of her stance and bolted for the back door at what must have been the fastest she has EVER run. Outrunning the confusion, fear, and cold (not to mention guilt and embarrassment – I mean really, she couldn’t have figured out how to walk 30 feet to the back door using a path she has walked at least 7,000 times before?)

Into the house she ran, where she knew she would find immediate reassurance from my wife that everything’s going to be alright. Any time she’s scared, she immediately runs to my wife for reassurance. Once she was reassured in the warmth of the kitchen, I removed the vest because, well, it was wet. As was the fur on the top of her head. So we guessed she must have been vigorously sniffing in a few inches of snow and the hood must have fallen forward covering her eyes. Knowing how much this must have bothered her, she probably then proceeded to use her front paws to rid herself of this nuisance, only to succeed at pushing the hood that much further forward. Imagine that! Defeated by the evolution of canine legs. Thrust into that heart of darkness, her solution? Stand frozen in place and wait for help to arrive.

After less than 10 minutes of lying on the rug, she stood up, wandered over to her drying vest, and nudged it with her snout. Dutifully, I bundled her up in it, fully expecting her to wander back to her dog bed, circle a single point on the floor three or four times, and lie herself down for a well-earned nap. Only, she walked straight to the back door and scratched it with her paw, waiting to be let out. Perhaps to repeat the afternoon’s excitement all over again.


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