Hazard No. 1: Grumpiness
Winter and I don't mix well. Like my favorite jacket, I'm good for three seasons - but for winter, I am not at my best.
Part of it's physical, as my joints begin to ache and the skin on my hands cracks and bleeds when the temperatures dip below 40 F outside.
But a great deal of it is mental and emotional - I can take only so much of the constant gray days, dirty streets, brown, withered grass and grungy snow.
Winter puts me in a dull, gray mood.
And that is why I receive more nominations for "Meanest Mommy in the World" in winter than in any other season.
Hazards Nos. 2, 3 and 4: Weight gain, temporary paralysis, profound lethargy
I think most people understand the concept of "winter weight."
It starts for most of us with the holidays and all the heavy, calorie-rich, abundant foods that usually are on every flat surface of our kitchens, within easy reach. "Oh, just three more - they're small," the little voice inside the tin of homemade treats calls to me each time I walk by. You know what I'm talking about.
To add to the problem, it is more difficult to get motivated to exercise when the weather is cold and the ground is icy.
Winter makes me more motivated to hide under blankets, eat soup and make bread and cookies and meals with gravy.
This gravitation toward a sedentary lifestyle combined with being surrounded by cookies and gravy adds pounds on me.
In fact, I gain anywhere from 11 pounds to 42 pounds the minute I sit in my favorite recliner.
Of course, when I stand up, most of that weight jumps right off, in the form of three dachshunds.
I'm in more serious trouble when my gigantic cat, Wyatt, decides to join the crowd. He doesn't have any qualms about sitting on top of dogs that are unwilling to make room.
Adding that much weight at once is hazardous to one's circulation and can lead to temporary paralysis.
It also is very warm and a good excuse for not getting up to do ... well ... pretty much anything.
Hazards Nos. 5, 6 and 7: Recurrent
near-coma, chronic lateness and a
cold, wet nose
You've heard of "near drowning." It's what happens when one almost dies by drowning. Well, how about "near coma?"
Certain drugs should never be combined, for safety reasons.
Tylenol and alcohol taken together can seriously harm your liver.
Prednisone and ibuprofen combined can give you a stomach ulcer. Sedatives and sleep aids used simultaneously can make you forget to breathe.
I add another combination to avoid: going to bed under a down comforter, tucked into flannel sheets, accompanied by two dachshunds and a twice-normal-sized, purring cat.
A VERY dangerous combination if you intend to regain consciousness without the use of an electric cattle prod.
Fortunately, though I have been reckless enough to engage in this hazardous practice, I have been lucky to wake each morning without needing life support to sustain my vital functions.
See what winter does to me? I am willing to take risks to my own safety to stay warm and comfortable!
Vaguely aware of my surroundings, I hover between sleep and waking in the precious few minutes just before my alarm goes off. As consciousness dawns, a pair of large, amber eyes, just inches from mine, come into focus.
As my alarm sounds and I hit the snooze button, the eyes look deeply, meaningfully into mine, and then squint.
A soft, white paw touches my cheek to the tune of loud, rhythmic purring. So soft, so warm and cozy ... and ... I doze off again. Alarm, snooze, purr ... zzzz.
If that's not enough of a reason to start the day late, winter has one more way to deal a blow.
Sometimes by actual blowing - wind, that is. And delivering icy rain and snow and so on.
Now, anyone who has the enriching experience of walking a dachshund on a leash can attest, anything that falls from the heavens or causes the ground to become soggy or icy or snowy causes delays.
The first delay happens when there ceases to be actual walking, but instead, standing, cowering and shivering.
If you think the sight of a dachshund standing pathetically hunched and trembling in freezing rain at the end of a leash is bad, try walking FOUR dachshunds in a winter storm.
My awesome wind, water and cold-resistant down parka helps me remain as patient as possible, but everybody has limits.
I usually end up muttering nasty things to no-one in particular, while walking up and down my yard, nose cold and dripping, with four sad, bedraggled dogs in tow.
The whole process takes three times as long, and all of us are ready to crawl back into bed when it's finally over.
So that's why in winter, I'm a big, grumpy, lazy, dopey, sleepy, sneezy doc.
I'm not bashful about saying I won't be happy again 'til spring! (Hi-ho.)
Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital.