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Michelle's column: Feeling cooped up by the cold

I really hope the predictions of warmer weather this weekend are going to become a reality. I don’t think my little dog can stand anymore of this super cold stuff.

Rissa, my little collie/rat terrier mix, has had about enough of staying indoors. And frankly, she’s driving me a little nuts about it.

Riss and I like to take walks. We really do. When we lived in St. Paul, we’d go for strolls around Lake Como or Lake Bennett in Roseville. We even pounded the pavement on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and at the state capitol grounds a few times. On the weekends, we’d head to a couple different dog parks, and boy, did she love that.

Since we moved to Hastings, we have found new places to take our walk. It turns out we can do a full two-mile lap just going up and down the main street near our home. When I get home before daylight ends, we’ve been going down to the trails near the Ver-million River falls, and walking over to the park near the Hastings Veterans Home. We’ve taken in the dog park on the U of M property a couple of times, too.

But here’s the thing — we have been, more or less, indoors for the past two weeks and it’s driving both of us a little crazy.

I took Riss and her “cousin” Sunny, my brother’s lab, down to the falls on that really nice Wednesday two weeks ago. You know, the nice day before Mother Nature dumped eight inches of snow on us and followed it up with the subzero temps. We had a nice walk. I wanted to get them out because I knew, looking at that forecast, that it would be a while before we got out again.

Well, then this past two weeks happened. I’ve tried to take Rissa out now and then, but our walks have been short. Between the ridiculously cold temperatures and the snowpack on the sidewalks, this hasn’t been ideal weather for us. And forget trying to walk in the streets. There’s too much ice there, and I’m not willing to take our lives into my hands that way.

We’ve instead turned to a fun game — albeit, a short game each day — of fetch. I stand on the patio and toss the ball into the snow, she runs after it. In a pinch at night, I throw the ball down the stairwell, and let her run up and down the stairs after it. Better her than me.

Poor Rissa just doesn’t understand the words “too cold.” She doesn’t get that I could slip and twist my ankle in the deep snow or on the ice. She doesn’t understand that concept of frostbite. All she knows is that she wants to play outside, and I’m not letting her. And that makes her sad.

And a little bit of a pest. Especially at night, when she sits on the floor in front of me and whines, or stands at the door and rings the bell to go outside. Only, once she’s out there, she figures out how cold it is, and wants back in right away. It’s been an endless cycle for the past two weeks.

To tell you the truth, it’s making me a little crazy, as well. I want to get outside and start our walks again. I want to take her to the dog park, or explore new trails. I’ve enjoyed walking since I was in junior high school, and I’m itching to get out and get going.

I guess I’m just feeling cooped up these days, too. Bring on spring!

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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