Snow day, Snow Dogs

The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the night sky. —Snow Country, Yasanuri Kawabata

When I was a kid growing up in southern California, my mother and I would  “go to the snow” as people in California sometimes say.  That meant driving up to the mountains outside of LA, to Idyllwild, or Big Bear.  I loved the snow as a kid–in those years before we moved to Alaska and it became commonplace–and I could spend hours upon hours outside in it.  Snow made the world magic:  everything cloaked in white and made unfamiliar, sparkling, and new.

After the snow

I was reminded of this today, as I took Toby for a walk.   The House of the Fox Dogs is situated in the Sandia mountains, and this year we’ve gotten a lot of snow.  According to local news, Sandia Peak ski area, which is just a few miles and  a couple thousand feet higher than us, has 47 inches of snow, the most in the state right now.   Just down the mountain a bit, we’ve definitely got our share of it.

Snow days

These days, I’m reminded that my dogs are snow dogs, that their breeds come from the snow country of Japan.   They revel in the snow.  Oskar, the Akita, would probably not come in at all, unless we made him.  He goes outside and runs and runs, ears back, face full of joy.

Snow Dog!

He runs, snatches mouthfuls of snow in between his leaps, then collapses in the snow to rest.   I’ve never seen him so happy, so animated.  It’s as if the world makes sense to him, finally, and I suppose it does–this was a dog bred to hunt in the mountains, in the deep snow, and he is in his element.

Even Toby and Bel seem to enjoy it.  Toby can be fussy–he doesn’t like to get his feet wet–and Bel is just flat-out crazy–but they are also built for the snow, with their thick double coats, and neither of them mind being out in it, and neither seem to mind the cold, either.


Some days, I have to be reminded of the magic and wonder in the world.  It is what we lose as we age, along with our innocence, and perhaps rightly so–we live in a world where innocence is so routinely abused that to be innocent is to be in danger.   Still, I miss that sense of wonder, and it’s something over the past few years I’ve tried to recultivate:  I’ve had a string of difficult years, and one thing that got me through was my dogged attempts to find beauty and wonder in the world, regardless of the ugliness that I (and all of us) witness.  I used to play a game with myself:  today I will find three magical things.  My magical things were invariably things of the natural world:  the Japanese maple on campus turning scarlet, the raven croaking from a utility post.

Or I watched my dogs.  Their joy in the world is effortless and amazing.   Every day is a great adventure to them, and they do not get tired of their world, this little half-acre, as far as I can see, though they are also joyous when they get to go somewhere new (Bel aside–Bel doesn’t really like going new places).   These snow days–days when we are forced to stay home by the nature (and the unaccountable schedule of snow plows), I’m able to watch them, and rekindle some of my wonder.

Oskar grabs a fallen icicle and runs with it, joyously, with delight at this new, melting toy.

Oskar with icicle

Bel forgets her fearfulness for a moment, and runs through the snow, with a rare (for her) Shiba smile.   Toby forgets to be fussy and trots into the snow, then poses for his profile shot.

Toby on the deck

And watching them, I remember all the wonder in the world, and remember those long ago days when my mother took me to the “snow country” of California.  And I remember to enjoy unplowed roads, the forced time out in my life.

Today,  I measured 15 inches of snow on the deck, which is from the heavy snow last night, and from the snow of the past few days.   And since our neighborhood, and our road, is low priority for the county snow plows, many of the roads in the neighborhood, including ours, have not been plowed.  Someone had driven down our road, so when Toby and I ventured out to get the mail today, we had a path to walk in, and larger roads below us were cleared.   But when we came home, we turned onto another road, and we were able to walk a ways in the tracks of a truck, but then, apparently, no one had ventured out of their homes (or perhaps into them!) for after that, the road was a vast expanse of untouched snow.  Do we turn around?  Go back the way we came?  Or go forward?

I thought of the spirit of the girl I had been, so many years ago in California, and remembered how in those days, I’d seek out the new snow, where no one had gone, and I decided to follow that kind of spirit today.   I’m older, wiser, I suppose, and certainly it’s harder these days to hold on to my childlike wonder or even optimism.  But I’m also a Sagittarius, and I have never entirely lost my inner child.  So we struck out down the road in the new snow.  It was above my boots in places (when I got home, I measured, and my boots are 13 inches tall), but I kept going.  Toby plowed away through it gamely, though the snow was up to his chest, sometimes up to his neck, and he looked like a Shiba swimming through snow.

But he was smiling.

And when the sun hit the snow, it was like a field of diamonds.

It was magical.

Oskar says "come play in the snow!"

And I was reminded of how much I’d loved the snow as a child, and I remembered, too, the harsh beauty of those short days and long winter nights in Alaska, when the snow blued as evening came on, and sometimes the aurora swirled above in otherworldly ribbons of light.   There is great beauty in this season.

House of the Fox Dogs in Winter

So all of us at the House of the Fox Dogs wish you a magical season, whichever holidays you celebrate this time of year, and we thank you, too, for reading.   Updates have been few and far between, as the mistress of the House of the Fox Dogs is working full-time and in school too, and sometimes I simply don’t have time to write.   But we appreciate every one of our readers, and thank you for following our adventures.

We’ll have more to say in the New Year, but in the meantime, and in the coming year, may your lives be filled with magic and wonder.   Just follow the dogs–they always know where to find joy.

We Won an Award!

Thank you to Jen (and Elka) of  The Elka Almanac for passing this award on to us.  It’s a particularly fun one, because it gets passed on to other bloggers–fifteen–so as Jen noted in her post about the award, it really does a great job of building community. From Jen, I learned that  “according to the rules, I must list seven things about myself, and then pass it on to fifteen new or newly discovered bloggers.”  This sounds fabulous!  I didn’t come up with 15, as I’m also new to this, but I did come up with 1o.

And I’m delighted to get to find out about some new blogs–especially dog blogs–via this award!

Toby, of course, wants this to be all about him, and when I told him about the award, he said “Mine!” which is a favorite word of his.  He seemed less interested when he discovered there was not a food award with it.  Toby, not everything is about food!

Anyway, here are my seven things.  I share some with Jen–at least the BPAL.  It’s how we “know” each other, aside from our mutual interest in all things canine.

1. I am a poet, and have two books of poetry published.  I haven’t been writing much poetry or anything “literary” in awhile, though, and I started this blog as a way to ease myself back into writing after a long dry spell.

2.  While dogs are obviously a great passion of mine, another is perfume and anything to do with aromatherapy.  I am also a great lover of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes, which are hand blended oil based perfumes.   I also have a great online family at the BPAL forums, where I spend a lot of my time.  I am a great fan of other indy perfumers as well, including Arcana Perfumes, Possets,  Conjure Oils, and DSH Perfumes.

3.  I have not traveled  much in the past few years, though I’m going to Germany this summer, but I do love to travel.  I have lived in Poland and Japan, and have traveled through a lot of Southeast Asia and traveled some in Europe.  I have also been to Mexico many times and to Haiti.  Here are some of my favorite places:  Haiti, Hong Kong, Hydra in Greece, Hanoi, Bali, Akumal in Mexico, Ko Samui in Thailand, Budapest, Berlin and New Orleans.

4.  I grew up in Alaska.  I moved to Fairbanks when I was 12 and lived there fairly steadily until I was 30.

5.  These are the dogs I’ve had in my life, from the first to the dogs I currently share my life with.  First, the family dogs:  Prince the husky mix from when I was a kid.  Princess was a pure bred GSD we got from the pound, who lived with my mother and I in Calif. and moved to Alaska with us.  Nikki, Princess’ puppy.  Tasha the Elkhound/husky mix who was the smartest dog I’ve ever known–she taught herself to climb a ladder.  My dogs:  Kiska the Akita, who died very young of cancer.  Felix the who knows what mix we found in Poland.  Hydra the lab/chow cross with the lovely purple tongue.  Kai, my beloved GSD who we lost last spring.    Marlowe, the pit bull/catahoula cross who I couldn’t keep because Toby kept trying to kill him.  Toby, Bel and Oskar.

6.  I keep trying to teach myself to sew, but I’m not doing very well.  There is much more ironing than I expected, which I don’t enjoy, and lots of measurements, and I have dyscalcula (like dyslexic, but with numbers).

7. Toby says he gets to say something about himself.  Toby says “I was whelped in Colorado, and I used to make my human carry me everywhere.  I was the biggest puppy, and we got free fed which I liked.  I didn’t like french fries though.  Now I do.”

Ok, on to other blogs I’d like to share the award with:

1.  The House of Two Bows

2. Too Naughty Shibas

3. The Misanthropic Shiba

4. Shiba Shake

5. Our Shibal Inu

6. The Girl with the Gae

7.  Brad Anderson 

8. Professor Gaga

9. Oh hells nah

10.  Morning, with Birds