I don’t mean to be a giant baby about this, but it’s cold outside.
That single-digit nonsense a couple of weeks ago … yeah, that’s got to stop. My wardrobe is not equipped for late-night two-leash dog walking with a windchill factor that has the audacity to go negative.
Koops knows what I’m talking about.
Last week, I came home after a particularly long night at work, and my mixed-breed welcome wagon was more frenzied than usual. Understandable, given they’d been cooped up in the apartment for close to 12 hours without a single accident (save for a lightly de-stuffed snowman throw pillow, which is really my fault when you think about — we’re going on, what, four weeks since Christmas?). Needless to say Koopa and Kollee were down for some serious sidewalk-sniffing/stranger-barking/territory-marking action. Dutiful dog mom that I am, I layered up as best I could, snapped on the harnesses (no easy feat during Kollee’s “I’m-so-so-so-so-so-happy-you’re-home-now-let’s-go-pee” dance) and we stepped out into the dark, frigid night.
No sooner did his front paws hit the ice-cold pavement than Koopa stopped dead in his tracks and looked up at me with incredulous indignation the likes of which I haven’t seen since the time I offered him a Hot & Spicy Cheez-It without first licking off the hot & spicy (silly of me, I know — this is the same dog who turns up his nose at waffle fries not dipped in ranch, after all). Upon realizing mom would not be turning on the global heat source he must believe me to control, my particular black mutt spent about four seconds watering the closest shrub before hightailing it back upstairs — a plan I was 100 percent onboard with, by the way. Like I said, it was cold.
Just try telling that to the not-at-all particular little brown mutt.
Nope, much like torrential rainfall and ungodly waking hours, Kollee seemed oblivious to the polar vortex that had stalled over our little corner of the South.
This is proving to be a real quandary. You see, in the great outdoors, Kooplee is two peas in a pod. They both love stopping every 10 seconds to smell something that I’m pretty sure smells exactly the same as it did on yesterday’s walk. They both love howling at any dog in a half-mile radius like they’ve got bigger plans than smell-whine-run away (hint, they don’t). Most of all, they both love adventure fielding, which combines the sensory excitement of smelling stuff with the endorphin rush of barking at stuff in a judgment-free environment — i.e. no uppity neighbor who acts like just because our maintenance men aren’t scared of her yappy ankle biter, it’s somehow better than my pretty little wild child and her deafening partner-in-crime.
Indoors, however, K-1 and K-2 are as incompatible as their preferred Instagram filters (FYI, Koops looks great in anything with backlighting and Kollee can pull off Brannan in a way other dogs only think they can)... So while Koopa’s tastes run toward solo diversions such as gutting squeaker toys and littering the carpet with their plushy entrails or following mom from room to room, Kollee prefers group activities like playing with her brother, pestering her brother until he plays with her and following her brother as he follows mom from room to room.
So with every passing cold front sending this Gulf Coast girl deeper into hibernation, we've had to make some changes to our regularly scheduled playtime.
For instance, indoor recreation has increased in both frequency and ferocity. Koopa plays hard-to-get when his sister takes to gnawing on his flanks, but eventually she winds up chasing him around the apartment until he tackles her and they roll around on the carpet for awhile chewing on each others limbs. (Why this last part must always occur directly beneath my feet I don’t know, and I don’t care — I’m not questioning an activity that requires only one layer of clothing.)
Of course, once a squeaker toy comes into play, it’s a whole other ballgame. As you may recall from previous columns, Koopa’s idea of a good time is an odd mashup of fetch, tug-of-war and keep away that always concludes with evisceration of the item in question.
With Kollee as a fetching partner, however, Koops is no longer guaranteed to be the one doing the eviscerating, a prospect he finds totally unacceptable. And this is where things get interesting because Koopa may have a stellar offense (aka jaws of death that tear through a $6 stuffed Angry Bird at a pace that prices a minute of playtime at $2.75, roughly), but his defensive game is pretty pitiful.
If Kollee happens to get the toy first, the Eviscerator’s only move is to turn his big sad puppy eyes on me in hopes I’ll take it away and give him a do-over. His backup plan? Find the discarded carcass of a previous round’s toy and act like he really wanted that one all along. I’m not sure which is worse.
The funny thing is, Kollee doesn’t give a flying fig about the toy — she just wants the attention showered on it by her brother. As soon as Koops loses interest in the game, she loses interest in the toy, which is when he pounces on the toy, which is when she pounces on him... It’s a vicious cycle — almost makes me want to bundle up and take a stroll past a certain yappy neighbor. At least when they howl, they howl together.