Another snowbank. It was that kind of winter. The snow was pushed into higher and higher piles on the side of our road. It started to resemble a tunnel. But there is someone who thought this winterscape was very cool, because it was so remarkably altered.
Elvis, my 4-year-old basset hound, has nose and eyeballs about 15 inches above the ground. But this winter he discovered, much to his delight and to my mild aggravation, that he could get them above mine if he clambered up these walls of snow when we went on our daily subfreezing walks.
He first scaled a huge snowpile that landed him well above my neighbor’s mailbox. It took persistence, digging those little legs in, but he did it. Once he managed to ascend its heights, he peered down on me and surveyed the lay of the land.
Clearly enjoying this new perspective, he sat on his haunches and made no effort to budge, despite coaxing from me. He raised that all-powerful and discerning nose of his into the rarified air and analyzed. He stared so long, I could just hear him thinking: Wow, this is amazing!
In the weeks that followed, he climbed on every walk. Each time he ascended, I waited patiently, trying to imagine what it must be like for him to see and sniff the world in this whole new way.
The snowstorms and the prevailing winds never seemed to affect him. He would perch there all day if I allowed it, but it was cold, so I would call his name and say it was time to move on.
We would walk in the road a few yards when I noticed he was veering off to scale another snowbank. I began grabbing my phone to take pictures of Elvis On High, like some kind of canine weather vane, rotating atop a roof of snow-covered ice chunks.
Red- and white-spotted Elvis is the low dog in this neighborhood. The soft-coated wheaten next door has the advantage of height and speed, but he clearly has no need to climb anything. He can sail over any ditch or hill on a mere whim.
But day after day, Elvis will doggedly (forgive me) trail after Webster Wheaten, attempting to keep up. Eventually, Elvis closes the distance. I admire his spirit since he never gives up; it just takes him more time to get there.
This isn’t my first lesson from Elvis. My neighbor Dale and I chuckle as we pass a fallow cornfield by a rural Somerset lane. We started calling it The Boneyard, since Elvis’ temporary disappearance into it often lets him emerge triumphantly with huge long-buried bones, of some cow or horse. Despite the size of some of these ossified remains, he’ll drag them out toward us, proud of the effort. I let him keep them. He took the time to extract them. Why not?
But it was this harsh winter of 2015 that has revealed a treat and fresh novelty. For a few weeks at least, one basset hound could attain altitudes he’s probably never dreamed of. Who could blame him for not wanting to descend?
Now that spring has arrived, and these ferocious white walls are disappearing, Elvis is staying closer to the ground.
I have found an occasional change in perspective does man and dog a good turn.