Have cattle dogs will walk (in bone-chilling early winter mornings)

Early morning winter walks with the dogs are both beautiful (bare dark trees against a washed out sky) and chillingly cold. So cold that I wonder if my shoulders will become permanently embedded into my neck once I return to the warmth of the house. Tex, the younger of the two, still requires longer ambles. JJ, the older one, responds to entreaties for walks by snuggling deeper into bed.  Tex, on the other hand, impatiently waits  for me by the door as I don every piece of wool and fleece.  

We take a right out of our cul-de-sac and brace for the cold breeze whipping down the street. Out on the street he sniffles at the requisite number of scent-stops for a good whiff and a bit of Tex splash and then picks up speed, as if tasks completed he can relax and enjoy himself.  I can tell by his eager sniffing and the way he has rolled his shoulders forward that he is preparing to lunge at that morsel of squirrel tail he found yesterday. It’s a tell that game.is.on and he is pushing his body weight forward in expectation of my counter pulls. Fortunately, some other fur found the tasty tidbit last night. Tex relaxes his shoulders and trots on, tongue out, and happy. 

We round the corner near Christensen Park. The ice and snow on the climbing frames and swings twinkles and glistens in the morning light. A few commuters swoop by, all but concealed in layers of Gor-Tex. It’s so cold, thin contrails follow the cyclists. I pull my scarf further up and over my face and check to see if Tex is ok. He’s ok but I’m not sure I am. The Valmont Bike Park feels farther away in the morning chill. 

But through the neighborhood we continue, holiday lights twinkling and setting off a joyful scene against the somberness of the early morning light. Finally, working our way across a state-law protected crosswalk, which appears to be optional for most drivers, we get into the park.

And a feeling of stillness and peace settles into my body. Until Tex decides that munching grass is critical at a particular edge of the park so takes off in the opposite direction in which we are walking. That’s ok because there is a hawk (possibly?) watching us imperviously from one of the tall cotton wood trees, keeping a keener eye on the rabbits that scurry and hop quickly into the underbrush. We pass the dog park, where you can hear the yelps and barks of all sorts of dogs. Tex’s ears perk up, he sniffs the air, stiffens his back as we walk by. 

We round the corner and gaze upon the foothills snow-dusted and iron cold. The long walk back home under the creeping winter sun casting watery shadows on the trail.