How did you survive the once-in-a-lifetime Polar Vortex last month? Our border collie friends posted their stories on Facebook, illustrated with dogs romping in layers of new snow with swirling winds wrapping them in white blankets. These high energy dogs relish the sub-zero temps if kept active, even without doggie sweaters or booties. The hardest challenge is to find open ground to encourage the dogs to do their daily duties.
On our farm, we usually have no problem plowing through several inches of snow with our little tractor, or gunning our all-terrain vehicle (ATV) through small drifts to reach a previous trail along the tree line. But you can imagine what drifts build up with 40 plus mph winds. With our dogs, I made up a game to run off pent-up energy and to encourage them to “go potty poop!’ Decked out in a ski mask and ear-muffed cap, I’d back the ATV out of the garage, then circle our plowed parking area, turning a sharp corner, racing with the dogs up to the barn -- and then another 180 degree turn, circling back to the garage, yelling, “Let’s go! Whee!” Our dogs, who rarely bark, joined in an excited chorus. I then paused, lowered my voice, and said, “Wanna go again?!” No argument there as the three younger dogs raced to outrun each other. After a few runs of this, they were ready to do their duties.
Like us two-legged creatures, making something challenging into a game can be a saving grace.