How are you? I am fine. Well, actually, I am not fine. I am so very not fine, in fact, that I am cutting into my morning nap time to write you this letter. (You know that's serious!) I had to have Wyatt the cat help me type this, because he has much more experience with computers, being that he's always sitting or stepping on the keyboards. He spends a lot of time on Facebook and shopping for stuff, so I figured he'd know how to get this letter to you somehow. He says now that there's access to an iPad, surfing the net's a piece of cake. I think he just ordered a piece of cake to make his point. He's also the handsomest, awesomest, smartest cat I know - probably in the whole world. And he made me promise not to tip him over and rudely molest him or make fat jokes about him for at least a week. No, a MONTH. How long is a month?
How is sunny Florida? Grammy and Bop-bop keep sending pictures and videos of you and Niles running on the sand and playing in the waves. What's it like on the beach? It looks like you and Niles have a lot of other dog friends there - do you miss me at all? I miss you a whole lot. I'll bet Niles doesn't know the first thing about keeping the insides of your ears clean, and what about thinning your feathery pants-fur out? Does he know how diligently I work at that? You must look a mess by now. Your tail must be all discombobulated. I will definitely have my work cut out for me when you return in the spring.
It's horrible here. It snowed. A lot. Like, up to my neck! It's cold and wet and yucky. The people thought it would be "fun" to take me and Miriam and Kevin and Shultz for a "nice" walk in the snow the night the big storm hit. I realize we all have big personalities, but dachshunds are not fond of deep snow. Miriam and I were made to wear "coats" because we are not sporting fluffy, warm pelts like Kevin and Shultz. It was warmer, but I still prefer to go "au naturel."
The snow was coming down hard, and there was about 8 inches of the stuff already on the ground, and it was dark and nobody was around anywhere but us! I had to follow behind Kevin (because he's a little jerk and always has to be first). But it got so deep on some sidewalks that we had to follow behind mom because we had to use her tracks to keep from having to pronk like antelopes through the frozen tundra. It was awful.
Well, OK, it was kind of fun running and smelling stuff under the snow and all, and we did get to see some creepy light-up deer (I almost peed myself when one moved its head - totally did not smell like deer - I steered clear of those alien beasts, to be sure). There's these giant creatures all around the houses and weird lights and stuff. The whole landscape is different. Maybe the snow was throwing me off, but I could swear that stuff wasn't there last time we walked around the neighborhood.
I spend most of my days and nights snuggled under piles of pillows and blankets on the couch or in bed. They make me go outside, but I do my best to avoid it whenever possible. Obviously, I need to go out to do my business, but I am very efficient, unlike the others, and I don't need to go out nearly as often as Kevin and Miriam. They're weird. According to Mom, they "can't be trusted" and are made to go out every couple of hours. I make myself scarce until I am good and ready to brave the elements.
Things have improved since the new fence was installed. At least I no longer have to suffer the indignity and torture of being tethered to a leash and made to stand for long minutes in the bitter cold, having to hold my tender feet up at intervals, my pathetic whimpers falling on deaf ears while the others dillydally around sniffing and pacing and the like. Now, I do what I gotta do, and sprint back to the house.
At least I can get around OK. Shultz is so old, he sometimes won't even leave the deck to do his business - I don't know, apparently slippery steps aren't his thing. Now, somebody's got to go out and swab the poop-deck every day. Literally. It's gross.
Since you left in the fall, the sun doesn't seem to even make it all the way up into the sky. The days are definitely darker and colder without you, my friend. Wyatt thinks I'm sappy for missing you, but he's a cat and cats are very unsentimental. Heck, I've never even seen him change that deadpan expression on his face, except when Mom offers him a sip of the milk leftover in her cereal bowl and he takes a big ol' whiff of cinnamon - the way he squints and snaps his head back in disgust - hilarious! Cinnamon's not so bad. I enjoyed eating those gingerbread man ornaments the kids made at school one year - plucked 'em right off the Christmas tree. The glitter was a bit gritty, and there was a strange gluey taste, but it was worth climbing up on the chair to sample them. Crunchy and delicious.
I hope you had a nice Christmas and tell Niles and Grammy and Bop-Bop I miss them, too. (Not as much as you, but we're best buddies.) If there's any way you can send for me, I'd be OK coming to visit where it's warm, even if I had to leave here for a little while. The waves look scary and I'm not much into swimming, but I think I'd like to dig in the sand. Digging is fantastic. I would be a little homesick, and my family would miss my security services and sparkling personality immensely, so I wouldn't be able to stay long, but see what you can do. You can be very persuasive, especially when you give them the sad, brown-eyed unbroken gaze. The paw placed on the knee is also a nice touch. I'm a bit short to pull that one off, but my classic dog begging stance is outstanding. If you practiced it, they'd probably give you anything.
Happy New Year. Send me a postcard!
Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column prints every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at email@example.com.