I love winter. I always have. The snow makes everything clean. The cold air feels so good on hot cheeks. If dressed appropriately, I rarely get cold. I’m not thrilled with the wind, but even that can be combated with the proper clothing. Yesterday was a challenge. It was cold, especially for December. The dogs that I walk were all a little zany yesterday. Like me, I believe they all like winter. I had to watch them closely for discomfort in their paws; ice balls and salt. Several times I had to stop and put their cold paws in my warm hands to melt the ice between their toes and pads. This always melts my heart. It amazes me that, even the dogs who hate having their nails trimmed, will let me hold their paws. They don’t fuss or try to get away. They just let me hold their paw until the ice is melted and we continue on our way. It only takes a few seconds, but in that few seconds there is such an intimate moment with the animal that it always makes me grateful that I have the job that I do. Yesterday, Harvey, a silly Cockapoo, was the first to have a problem with ice between his toes. I’ve been walking him for years and he knew to stop and lift his paw. No whining. He just stopped, sat, lifted his paw and waited for me to take his paw in my hand. I immediately removed my glove, knelt on the sidewalk next to him and took his paw. He melted into me and we had a genuine moment of love right there on the sidewalk. His head nestled up against me and his whole body leaned into me. I held his paw with one hand and snuggled him with the other. I kissed the top of his head and he looked me in the eye. *sigh* Then, the moment was gone and we were off again. Dogs are amazing creatures. If I remember to concentrate on where I am and which dog I’m with, instead of going over my list of things to do in my head, I get lost in this job. Dogs never cease to inspire wonder in me. Each one is a different and wonderful creature with personality, emotions, feelings and curiosity. I KNOW they aren’t people, they are dogs, but I think most people miss the magic in dogs. If they saw it, they wouldn’t say things like “Oh, it’s *just* a dog.”.  My life is so much better because of dogs.

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