This weekend, Nova Scotians suffered the first real deep freeze of the year. Now that the temperatures have taken their inevitable sub-zero dip, it is time to channel my inner penguin. Every die-hard dog walker in Canada knows it’s not what you wear that matters. It’s how much you can pile on while still able to hold a leash. I’m surprised it hasn’t reached professional competitive levels yet.
As this will be my third winter braving the elements with my dog, I consider myself pretty knowledgable when it comes to fighting off a bitter Nor’easter. Thus, I have put together a short list of essential items. No Canadian dog walker should leave the house without them.
Toque. Preferably one with ear flaps and a pom-pom. The latter isn’t necessary but it might help you feel more youthful. Nothing puts a spring in my winter step like a silly puff ball bouncing on the top of my head. If you live in the prairie provinces, you may want to consider a full balaclava. Something like this will do.
Mukluks. You’ll want them at least knee-high. Don’t worry if you can’t bend your legs. With the snow drifts, you won’t be able to move very fast anyway. Boots that prevent ice chunks from sneaking underneath are best. Nothing spoils a good, frigid stroll like frozen socks. Those in the Maritimes will want to make sure they are waterproof. I once made the mistake of assuming my Albertan winter boots were enough for the wet and sloppy Nova Scotian climate. Don’t be like me and go for fashion over substance. Unless you don’t want that pinky toe.
Easy-open poop bags. It`s either that or I recommend pre-opening all of the bags before you leave the house. There is nothing worse than suffering frostbite because you had to remove a mitten to fight with a piece of plastic. Been there. It sucks.
Dog Sweater. I’m not usually a big “dogs in clothes” kind of person. Growing up with a Siberian Husky, I questioned why people thought their pets needed extra protection from the elements. Don’t they have fur? However, Shiva has shorter-fur. While it protects her from the majority of the weather conditions we face, I do worry about her walking around in thirty below. I also noticed some distinct shivering at the other end of the leash this weekend. It`s hardly fair for me to be all snug in my Gortex if she is freezing her tail off. A search for a practical and durable doggy jacket is on! I think this might do nicely:
Snowshoes. May as well go all out, especially if your city is like mine and employs the slowest plows in the world. The pathways and roads will be covered for the next three months at least. Snowshoes will also help you avoid those humiliating spills I mentioned above. Sure and you’ll look like a dork, but it’s hard to look cool walking three dogs decked out in reindeer sweaters anyway.
Flask. Not that I condone public drunkenness. *shifty eye* Nonetheless, having a little something in your pocket to warm your insides might be just the thing. Besides, you`ll need a way to celebrate walking across an icy street without landing on your bottom. If you are worried about local liquor laws, this site has some good ideas for how to carry one. In a pinch, you can use a Tim’s travel mug. It’s more Canadian that way.
Trendy scarf. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up on fashion. Think of how hot you will look in your parka and snowpants with a brightly-coloured American Apparel design around your neck. You will be sure to catch everyone’s eye. With the right style, no one will even notice your nose has frozen off.
With all of this gear, your winter will pass by like a gentle summer breeze. Four feet of snow? Meh. 100 km per hour winds? Pshaw. Eyebrows forming ice crystals? Baby stuff. You and your dog will be fully prepared for whatever the season brings. Never again will you cower in fear from a blizzard. No more will you have to worry about canine cabin fever during the long winter months. Now you can both head outside and enjoy the wonder of nature with the satisfaction of knowing you will remain nice and toasty. Take that winter! You can’t stop us from walking our dogs!
Who’s with me?
I suppose the other Canadian tradition of hot cocoa and down blankets also works.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure to check out part two of the social media giveaway and get your entries in! Nothing warms a body like cold cash!