Enjoy The Small Things

One of the great things about where I live is that I am a few miles from an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a most incredible U.S. National Park. (I am also a few miles from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but they do not allow dogs on trails, leashed or not. Fortunately, I am also near the Pisgah National Forest which has fantastic trails).

In its infinite wisdom, the federal government has given the Park Service an incredible amount of acreage, but precious little money to actually maintain the parks. As a result, my section of the Parkway closes sometime in November and does not usually reopen until March or April. Why? The Park Service does not have the funding to plow or salt the roads, so the snows simply make the roads too treacherous for tourists to drive.

But the road is open for walking. And, coupled with the incredible knowledge that most tourists never walk more than a few hundred feet from an open road, after a mere quarter mile from the gate, we can walk or sled for a long time without running into another human being.

It was March of 2004 and the road was still not open for the season. We had walked a couple of miles in – Nikita and Natasha and I – and were on our way out. The weather was warm and I was running late for dinner with my parents. I had played too long and knew that we had to hurry so I could have time to feed the dogs and still get to dinner without being too late.

We had been a half mile at least since last seeing any snow on the ground and Nikita suddenly started to whine. Off to the side of the road was a small patch of snow – maybe 10-15 feet long, maybe 2 feet wide, and no more than 6 inches deep. It was nothing, certainly not worth our time. But Nikita began wooing her insistent talk and begged that we stop.

No, I said, we are late. We have to go. But she turned, stared at me and wooed again.

Suddenly it hit me. My old girl, already 11 years old, was getting frailer. Would she make it to the next winter? Would she ever see snow again? And all she wanted, all she asked, is that we stop for 10 minutes and play in this little patch of snow. So I relented. Her arthritis was forgotten and she dove in. I tossed snowballs for her to catch and she and Natasha wrestled in the snow. After a few minutes, her outer guard hairs wet, Nikita was done and ready to head on down the road.

Fortunately, she lived to see another winter (but not two). And we even got another snow in the spring of 2004. But if we had not, was it really worth being 15 minutes late to dinner?

In return for being a little late, I got to see my old girl be a puppy, if only for a few minutes. I got to wrestle in the small little patch of snow with her. I have a memory that I will never forget. And I made her really, really happy.

Thank you Nikita for all you gave me, but most importantly, for helping me to remember to enjoy the small things while you can.

17 Comments

  1. Susan on March 10, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    This reminds me of walking with my last dog. She was part beagle and wanted to smell EVERYTHING. I used to let her because their lives are short. She died at 16, maybe 17 ( shelter dog so I don’t know for sure.) She had a stroke and lost control of her hind legs. The vet said nothing could be done, so, I made the hard decision and stayed with her while it was done. My last responsibility to her.

    RIP Krystal Light the Schneagle.

  2. Julie on March 10, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Yes tears. But since you shared this back then I have tried to heed Nikita’s advice. My girl just turned 14 and may not have another winter either, but we are going to enjoy every minute we can.

  3. Lilian on March 10, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Wow! What a memory!, I’ve just lost my husky partner for 15 years, and many times came back to this story. Do you remember the time Natasha get intoxicated with mushrooms?

  4. Lori & Izzy Bear on March 10, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Just beautiful….. ❤️🐾

  5. Jean Burkhardt on March 10, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Hu-Dad this story brought some tears BUT also happiness to know each and every one of your dogs who made/make up the herd have had wonderful and happy lives! I do know that we must enjoy every day of our dogs lives because they are way too short. THanks again for the great story of Nikita and her being a puppy again in the snow.

  6. Debbie and Ruby on March 10, 2021 at 7:48 am

    I always try to find some snow for Ruby. Since the snow has mostly melted at home we are venturing out to the higher areas for a walk. She loves to slide in the snow and forget all her ailments. You just never know how many more winters there will be for her. Off to the Catskill Mts today!!

  7. Cheerful Monk on January 22, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I cried when I read this too. I just wrote a post about it: http://cheerfulmonk.com/2018/01/18/enjoy-the-small-things/
    It’s too good not to share.

  8. Dennis the Vizsla on January 17, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    hello thundering herd its dennis the vizsla dog hay thank yoo for this reeminder for the hyoomans that sumtimes stopping to induldj wot mayks us dogs happy is not only going to mayk us happy it is going to mayk them happy too!!! ok bye

  9. Juno's mom on January 17, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Regret is a most bitter pill. We always have time, we just don’t make time. Great story.

  10. DJ, Cierra & Maggie on January 17, 2018 at 9:37 am

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing!❤

  11. Hokie Pack on January 17, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Great reminder to enjoy the small things!

  12. julie on September 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    i love this. i just lost my 13 year old a month ago. Though i now have a 4 year old rescue and a 3 month old puppy my first sib Nanook changed my life forever and will always be a huge piece of my heart

  13. Ruby's Raiser on March 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    OMG, this this this. You have brought me to tears. We enjoy every moment, we never pass up a snowbank, and we indulge every whim of our precious old girl. Because whatever happiness we can give her will never, ever come close to the happiness she has brought us.

  14. Houndstooth on March 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I’m teary eyed reading this because I can remember something similar. It’s a wonderful thing to be owned by a dog!

  15. The Bumpass Hounds and Kitties on February 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    The peeps sometimes fail to stop and smell the roses or to stop and play in the snow. Our J.E.B. practices every day of the year on making perfect snow angels, usually on the big bed in the MBR. He can’t help himself when real snow arrives as he is sooooo ready. We dogs try our darnedest to make y’all happy and ask so little in return. You had your priorities right and made the right choice. Our mom & dad try to make us as happy as we make them.

  16. KB on February 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    You made me cry. I’m glad that you took the time that day, and I’ll remember your story when I try to hurry my dogs along when all they want to do is play.

  17. MAXDOG on February 9, 2010 at 5:45 am

    This is a truly beautiful story. Thank you for pointing me to it.
    With love

Leave a Comment





Read Another Story

← Back One Story ◊ OR ◊ Forward One Story →

This Week's Thundering Herd Special Features

Monday Musing

Weekly thoughts from our Hu-Dad with the latest updates on his writing projects, the books he's reading, and a gratuitous dog photo of us.

The Weirdness of Weeks

November 21, 2021

The earth circles the sun in a year and rotates in a day, but weeks have no natural rhythm. What is up with the weirdness of weeks?

Way Back Wednesday

Each week, we reach back into our vault of over 4,500 previous posts and share a favorite. We hope you enjoy this look back.

View from the Ranch

October 13, 2009 |

The view from the ranch, our neighbors, is awesome, especially as the leaves begin changes and the cold weather rolls in to our mountain.

Visit Millerton, a fictional small town near Asheville NC, via D.K. Wall's novels. Ordinary people. Extraordinary events.