Animated Snowman

Shadow Tails - It'Sno Fun

Contrary to popular opinion, perpetrated by California’s best public relations folks, it not only rains here, it snows quite heavily. Still, in the central valley around the State Capital in Sacramento, the snow is quite well behaved and almost always stays way up in the mountains where it belongs. That is quite convenient allowing one to visit when in the mood, never having to shovel a walk or drive, and in general just being able to enjoy when the mood strikes. Of course, in typical California insanity it becomes a proud badge of considerable prestige to have a second home up high in the mountains where you can go to enjoy all the miseries of snow. Being a good Californian and of course aspiring to the epitome of a mountain cabin, my six-bedroom four bath house was right on the shore of Lake Tahoe only a few minutes from the ski slopes.

The young Shadow was quite concerned and wondering what was going as she watched me load my old vintage red Volvo sports car with all including the kitchen sink. I explained that we were headed up to sit in front of the fire and be warm as we watched out over the lake seeing softly falling snow and the distant skiers slip down the slopes of Heavenly Valley. She sometimes does not pay good attention, but a come on girl was all she needed to get her traveling gear. Liking to travel light that meant she just got her Frisbee and then hopped in her seat ready for another adventure.

Our cold wet cloudy wintry day gave way to bright happy sunshine at about the three-thousand-foot level and the Shadow began to perk up nicely with tail going a million miles an hour. Soon we were in this white stuff that as a Valley Girl she had never seen before. Being a well-trained master, it only took me a few barks until I peeled off at a little roadside snow park. It was filled with well bundled happily playing kids of all ages. I no sooner opened my door expecting to go around and open the Shadow’s side, and zip she charged right out my side without even a pause. Of course, we are talking our mountain weather where often the snow thaws a little during the sunny days then freezes hard in the minus degrees at night. The result was the parking lot outside was totally coated in sheet ice and glass slick. There is something about a still growing critter her size flying onto that ice that much to her upset really made me laugh.

Wanting no part of being totally out of control, feet flailing quickly on the ice with no effect, feet getting colder by the minute, and a disrespectful master she was not about to put up with that nonsense at all. Of course, there was nothing she could do. The faster she moved her legs the less grip and the further away she slid. Somewhat stubborn by nature she pulled her normal when confronted with just too much and promptly just tried to sit down. Well, even that was a mistake. Hating anything touching her tail and that ice being very cold was more than a little surprise resulting in her barking loudly at the whole world till she gradually came to a halt. If looks could kill I clearly was going to spend the rest of my days in her dog house!

Standing up shivering in a coat that would have made an Eskimo proud she gingerly began to learn how to walk all over. Carefully taking a few tentative steps she quickly figured out that she could get back to me and the car. Of course, the Shadow only had two speeds, full and asleep. It did not take many steps until she was really moving with absolutely no chance of stopping. Figuring I was going to be in for a really rough weekend if she got hurt slamming into the car, I made the ultimate sacrifice taking a few steps to put me between her and the car. By then she realized what a terrible mistake she had made because her best efforts to slow and dodge me meant nothing at all. About then we had a most intense physical encounter that knocked me all the way back to the car. Fortunately, only a little pride was injured and in no time the Shadow was in her seat looking at me as though I was crazy. She had seen her snow and it was now time to get on with her life.

Suddenly, her head went up and she issued a howl. One of the many kids there had found her abandoned Frisbee. What a dilemma. No one was allowed to play Frisbee without her, and yet going back on that cold stuff was beneath her dignity. I carefully left the door open and slowly went over to join the kids with the Frisbee. The Shadow watched moaning softly. We kept playing with my knowing it was only a matter of time until the black streak could take no more.

Many think dogs are stupid, but they never stopped to think about the physics involved in making the perfect high jumping Frisbee with a half twist midair. Of course, the Shadow could not tolerate all the happy people playing, especially with her Frisbee without her. Out flashed the black streak headed right for me determined to snag a throw aimed for me before I could catch it. She of course did and then landed backward digging in four sets of claws so hard she was kicking up rooster tails.

Totally ignoring her prior upset the Shadow trotted over to me slowly as though she had lived in snow country all her life, dumped the Frisbee on my feet then started her tail going signaling she wanted a really good toss. Well, so far the Shadow had only met parking lot ice. Just off the surface was beautiful fresh white powder snow just laid down the night before. Winding up like I was really going to throw it a mile I let sail about six feet out into that fresh powder. All the kids and adults were watching closely as the Shadow took off claws digging in deeply to fly across the ice then launch off into the snow. Uh oh! She touched the surface, her feet started peddling hard and there was nothing there but fluff. Down she began to sink! She let out another fierce howl with her head turned toward me glaring for having again failed to explain this part of the world. I smiled knowing how much the Shadow hates to have her tummy and tail end touched when she is not expecting it!

She sank right to her neck and was faced with another dilemma. Should she swim out to her all-important Frisbee or struggle out of that "yuck". A girl has her pride! There were all those people watching and little tiny ones including another dog or two out there with her. The tail went straight up and like a submarine she plowed her way to where she was sure the Frisbee landed. Looking all around all she saw was white. She tried biting it and all she got was cold fluff. A most strong fierce bark and nothing at all. Ducking her head down she could see nothing. By then fully committed, she was not about to give up. The head bobbed up and down, shaking snow everywhere each time she came up. Finally up popped that bright red Frisbee and a most happy Shadow.

I could tell by the look on the Shadow’s face this was all my fault and it would be a long time before I was forgiven. She made that most clear when she totally ignored me and instead went up to a little one about a third her size and dropped the Frisbee then sat waiting impatiently. The mother of that little one was more than a little excited seeing something that looked like it fed on little ones like hers. The Shadow knows how to deal with such and laid down tiny with the tail wagging just wanting her Frisbee thrown. The little one was trainable even if the mother was not! That little girl quickly grabbed up the disk and sent it soaring way out into the fresh snow. The Shadow quickly took bearings then launched landing with a soft puff spraying snow everywhere. Porpoising up and down as she plowed through the snow she quickly dived under taking bearings from the hole and the snow and came up first try with her Frisbee. She carefully looked toward me letting me know what a sharp gal she was and at the same time telling me that if I had been better, she would have been mine!

Laughing at her silly antics I laid back on the hood and watched her play and quickly tire as the snow plowing drained her boundless energy. She finally came back and dropped a very wet cold Frisbee on me and leaned up close letting me know all was forgiven if I would just feed her. Of course I had her water and food dishes and after serving up a couple of Gaine’s burgers with about a half-gallon of water she was all ready to go again. This time she had her heart set on the sled run above where all the big kids were playing. Without a second thought she took off like a black flash and began to speed up that hill. This packed snow was wonderfully different because she could walk on it without sinking. At the very top of that long sled run she joined a group of teenagers sharing a giant tractor inner tube. As the few of them took up stations and began to slide, the Shadow ran alongside. Realizing she was going way too fast she did her normal and sat down right there. Of course, this turned her into a body surfer and she continued to fly alongside that big tube. The kids were cheering her on and she was one happy dog finding just a little pressure with one front paw or the other could change direction, speed up, and slow down.

Well, she was sort of in control anyhow. Just as all got to the bend in the sled trail and began to turn left the Shadow put her right foot down hard and turned a sharp right immediately going into a tumble and landing in the soft powder. Jumping up and sneezing a little snow from her nostrils, she looked around and wanted to make sure all appreciated her "planned" trick. When she had all attention again, she stepped back on the trail, slid to the bottom then immediately sailed right back up to the top with her new friends to do it all over again. All went wonderfully run after run with her ears up in full sail and tail going happily.

I could tell she was getting tired of this new game as she trotted back to get her Frisbee. She took it way up high and threw it herself then charged down after it. It bounced around the turn then went sailing up at the end of that sled run with her in hot pursuit. Always one to put a little flourish on all her activities, instead of slowing she hopped to all fours and took off going even faster hitting that little up slope and launching high. In the air she did her famous Frisbee catching half twisting turn and then vanished in the very deep powder snow below. Quickly she popped up bobbing up and down with her Frisbee in mouth coming over to me and then hopping into the car ready to head home. Little did she know that we had a full three days more of fun ahead.