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Dressing for the cold: Sometimes it's Hopeless.

Now that the cold weather is settling-in, I’m starting to hear the stories about the battles parents wage to get kids into their winter gear.  Happily this has never been much of a problem in our house, even when Emma was very small.

The dog on the other hand, is a completely different story.

Poor Hope.  At 11 years old she is getting-on in age.  This fall, she seems to be feeling the nighttime chill more than previous cold seasons. Lately we’ve noticed on some of those frosty evening walks that she’s shivering after being out for only a ten minute stroll around the block.  Of course, the cold isn’t stopping her from wanting to be outside. And let’s face it - a dog has to do, what a dog has to do.… outdoors.   

It’s time to pull out Hope’s winter gear.   She has a couple of coats and a pair of boots and she looks pretty darn cute when she’s dressed for the weather.

Dog coat, outdoor dog, winter
Hope is cute as the puppy next door in this sporty but oh-so chic ski vest.

But we have a problem.  She really hates wearing cold weather clothes - especially the boots.  How do we know she hates the boots? She runs away the minute she sees them and will absolutely NOT be bribed into coming close enough to anyone who might put them on her feet.  The trick to this is to get the leash on her before she knows there will be boots involved.  But somehow we frequently forget that part.

We try to trick her.  “Come on Hopey… let’s go for a WALK!” We say with enthusiasm, shaking the leash.  Nope.  We open the door and pretend to leave without her.  Uh-uh.  If she has caught sight of those boots she’s not going anywhere.  It’s the only time that even the promise of a c-o-o-k-i-e doesn’t work.  Going for a 10 minute walk around the block turns into a 20 minute ordeal just trying to get her out the door.  It’s exhausting.  So now, we make her wear the boots only when there is an extreme cold-weather warning.  

Until recently, it was only the boots that had this paralyzing effect on the dog.  But then, a couple of weeks ago I tried to put a coat on her.

“Come on Hopey…. Let’s go for a WALK!” I said with enthusiasm.  She came galloping towards the mudroom with ears flapping and a big smile on her face, just as I was pulling her jacket down from the shelf.  The gallop slowed to a trot.  I opened the jacket. She recognized almost immediately what it was and – like something you see in a cartoon – she stopped dead in her tracks.  And then, she backed out of the mud room. Very slowly.  One step at a time.

Just out of reach, in her own little bubble of safety, she watched me.  “What?” I asked her. “It’s cold outside.  You’re old and need to stay warm.”  I told her.

She backed away another step. I don’t think this has happened with a coat before.

“Ok fine,” I said.  “No coat tonight. But don’t start whining when you get cold,” I warned her.  She didn’t move.  I folded her coat and made a big show of putting it back on the shelf.  “Look! No Coat!” I told her with great joy and excitement.  She didn’t come near me. I jiggled the leash. 

Nothing.

And then I pretended to leave the house without her.  It worked! She came into the mud room and I was able to snap on the leash before she could get away again.  Clearly, the coat is not quite as traumatizing as the boots.  Or, she’s just rusty on her resolve to stay naked no matter how cold it is outside.  Either way, she  didn't win the battle this time.  But I think I'm going to have to develop some new strategies to keep the old girl warm.

Maybe a sweater will be her thing?

UPDATE January, 2014
Hope now has a lovely red, cable-knit sweater. She is styilin' AND warm AND she loves the sweater. In fact, she get's all excited and happy when we get it ready to put it on. She politely lifts her paws and eagerly pokes her head through the neck hole.  I am positive it's because of the sweater, and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she gets a cookie every time we put it on her.

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