For several days, arctic temperatures have been forcing any who venture outside to cover everything but their eyes, so in Sherwood Park, we’ve been telling each other apart by our dogs and the closest we get to socializing is peering at one another through slits in our scarving and half-waving our puffy arms. 

Our dogs, on the other hand, chase about like school’s out. They love these conditions. The big ones do, anyway. The small dogs, with a few exceptions, aren’t so keen—especially the tiny, short-haired ones, some of whom are so physically overwhelmed by their winter attire and so cold in spite of it, they can barely walk.

It upsets me to see a dog being mistreated, willfully or otherwise, but I’ve no appetite for confrontation, so usually keep my mouth shut. Last Thursday, however, there was a woman approaching on the trail who either hadn’t noticed or wasn’t concerned that, beneath its decorative winter carapace, her tiny dog was blue and had one eye frozen shut. How could I not speak up?

Deciding it prudent to broach the matter indirectly, I engaged the woman about the craziness of our weather and, with a zig and a few zags, worked this around to recalling the time, while playing with a friend in a rowboat “on a day very much like this,” I was pitched by a rogue wave into the icy waters of Georgian Bay and “by the time I‘d struggled ashore, one of my eyes was frozen shut—just like hers,” I said, pointing to her dog.

Till then, she'd been smiling. “Sophia's eye isn't frozen shut,” she said. “She lost that eye six months ago to cancer. You might try wiping your glasses.”

She had a point. I quickly apologized, wiped my glasses, then leaned forward and gave Sophia's quivering little head a few comforting strokes with the tips of my fingers. She was too cold to care. I could see, now, she was wearing a blue bodysuit. The woman was tugging at her leash.

blue dog rescue