First snow stirs up questions for new dog owner

When the first substantial snow of the year covered our yard Tuesday morning, my dog Oreo was stuck indoors. I was at work, and by the time I returned home for lunch, the thin layer of snow had melted away on all but a few choice surfaces — the raised bed, the base of the basketball hoop, the rock garden.

Darn. I had wanted to see how Oreo would react to the snow. Since I adopted him in the spring, I don’t know how he’ll weather the winter. And in Maine, snow is a big part of the equation.

oreosnow1113-1So I followed Oreo out to our fenced-in yard for his midday “squat,” after which, I excitedly pointed out the few patches of remaining snow to him.

He ate it.

I should have predicted that. He likes to eat things, as most dogs do. But I suppose, if I had been looking for some sort of confirmation that Oreo would enjoy the impending snowy season, that was as good as it was going to get.

So after watching a hilarious YouTube video of dogs sliding in the snow, I went back to work.

Later that evening, the snow returned, and like an excited kid, I ran outside with Oreo in tow. Again, he sniffed the snow, ate a bit, then walked off to find a stick.

Clover of Durham enjoys playing in the snow.

Clover of Durham enjoys playing in the snow.

“I don’t think there’s enough for him to really understand it,” Derek said to me later.

He was right — and now it’s raining as I write. Temperatures have risen to the 50s after dipping to the teens. (Welcome to Maine.) Snowy playtimes with the pup seem far off.

But now my curiosity is piqued. Being an outdoorsy person, I want Oreo to join me on my winter excursions, but not if he’s miserable, not if he hates the snow. So I did what any curious person of this day and age might do; I visited an online forum.

Tasha (who looks a lot like Oreo) plays in the snow at her home in Fort Kent.

Tasha (who looks a lot like Oreo) plays in the snow at her home in Fort Kent.

As it turns out, I’m not the only pit bull owner to wonder if my dog will enjoy winter wonderland. You see, pit bulls have short hair. They aren’t built for the snow like huskies and other fluffy canines.

On gopitbull.com, I read about other pit bull owners’ experiences. For example, a pit bull named Patch “doesn’t like real deep stuff, but anything 4 inches and under, he loves.” And a young woman from South Dakota wrote that, “at first [my pit bull] was so scared of [snow]. Though now, he always has me take him on walks, and we’d just roll in the snow together with my friends, and if we have snow ball fights, he tries to jump and catch every one.”

Sounds promising.

Chai of Pembroke enjoys the snow while wearing a thermal layer.

Chai of Pembroke enjoys the snow while wearing a thermal layer.

And a pit bull owner from Virginia posted, “My 7-month-old [American Pit Bull Terrier] is not a fan of snow. He stays on the deck as much as possible when I let him out, but when I go out and play, he  loves running around and biting the snow.”

Since forums are just big online conversations, I enter each one with a bit of skepticism. But sometimes it’s nice to hear what people around the world have to say about a question that has been nagging at you. Their answers gave me some hope that Oreo may indeed enjoy playing in the snow — once we have a bit more.

And if he doesn’t, I have a few tricks (and treats) up my sleeve that might sway him.

Oreo enjoys runs around the yard of his home in Brewer during the first substantial snow of the year.

Oreo enjoys runs around the yard of his home in Brewer during the first substantial snow of the year.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.