Travels with Capone

By staff February 2, 2009

Our miniature Schnauzer braves the frozen North.


Bucking the snowbird migratory pattern, I have traveled north for the winter.

I'm spending the month of February in frigid Fort Wayne, Indiana. I told people I've come for the Mid-Winter Sleet and Slush Festival. Actually, I'm keeping my partner, Jeff, company while he attends to businesses he owns.

In the deep winter, a housebound Capone has plenty of toys to play with.

Unwilling to leave our miniature Schnauzer, Capone, in a kennel for a month, we made the trip by car so we could bring him along. Everything was going smoothly until about two hours north of Atlanta, when we ran into heavy rain and dense fog. Then we hit the leading edge of the ice storm that would cause so much havoc in Kentucky and Tennessee. We had to stop the car every half-hour to chip the ice from the windshield wipers.

Finally, when it started to snow, we stopped for the night at the Red Roof Inn near Dayton, Ohio.

Capone loves the motel milieu. He's very good about not barking at other guests, and he exercises by leaping from bed to bed in the room. But he freaked out when I took him for a walk the next morning. Ten inches of snow had fallen during the night, and heavy, wet flakes were still cascading from the sky.

 Now, Capone grew up in the Midwest, but he clearly had forgotten everything he ever learned about dealing with the elements. He started whimpering as his paws sunk into the snow. He made a quick U-Turn and headed back toward the room, but skidded on a patch of ice and landed on his stomach, his front and back legs flailing. He gave me a heartbreakingly pleading look, and I could read his mind: "I appreciate you guys wanting my company, but next time, leave me in Florida. I'll be just fine, and I'll pretend to have missed you when you return."

Over the last few days in Fort Wayne, Capone has learned to cope. He no longer lets a little snow get in the way of tracking a good scent, and frankly, he handles the ice patches much better than I do. I have noticed that he will occasionally lift a front or back paw and limp for a few steps. A neighbor here told me he may be getting salt pellets in his paws as he walks on the sidewalk.

Since I obsess about this dog every waking moment (like I needed to tell you?), yesterday I braved 7 degree temperatures and drove to PetsMart to purchase doggie booties. They were handsome little leather numbers with soft fleece linings. I carefully slipped them on his paws, but Capone wasn't having it. He stood as stiff as a statue, and refused to move until I took them off.

So we're continuing to walk without protection, and he seems fine with it. This morning, he spotted a rabbit 50 yards away, and pulled me into a snowbank as he gave chase.

I'd like to write more, but Capone is snuggled next to me. It's time for Caponesssssss dinnnnnnner and heeeeee is pounding the keyyyyyboard with anticipaaation

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