March 2, 2004

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.

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  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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


  5. 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


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