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coping with the cold

The last week or so Chisinau has resembled a flash-frozen version of Mordor, a chilly, thick, impenetrable fog enveloping the city. There were a few hours of bleak light each day; at times the reluctant rays of a distant, listless sun penetrated the haze. It did not rain hard, but the dark, heavy clouds hung so low that nightfall appeared to begin well before sunset. Winter has come to Chisinau, protestations to the contrary from our Moldovan friends notwithstanding.


After a tour on the equator, it is of course hard to adjust to low temperatures, especially for S, whose baby bump now makes her jackets nearly impossible to close. The transition has been a lot harder for our poor, bewildered African dog. Her fur has grown thicker, but not enough to counteract the chilly, blustery weather. So we bought some gear to help her brave the cold.

We are sure that at some point in our lives we must have scoffed at doggie-wear. Pets in America get outfitted with the most ridiculous things, from ugly Christmas sweaters to Halloween costumes of questionable taste, Santa hats, and even underwear. Much of it is for the owners’ amusement, but even the items that are genuinely intended to keep the animals warm tend to look uncomfortable and tacky. “We’ll never be those people,” we mused, but that was before shipping an African dog to Eastern Europe. So much for that resolution.

Before purchasing anything we had to obtain Emmie’s measurements, which was an adventure in and of itself. Our dog is, shall we say, “delicate” — if we can be permitted an understatement. She gets scared if she is left alone in a big room and usually won’t eat if we’re not nearby. She is afraid of cars and bicycles, and has a hard time controlling her bladder when we have visitors. She gets spooked by the wind and it took several weeks to coax her to use the elevator. It probably should have come as no surprise that she would find measuring tape utterly terrifying (another understatement).

We have yet to try on her neoprene jacket, but this week the time finally came to put her bootees to use. Cooped up in the apartment most of the day, she gets unbelievably excited at the mere mention of the word “walk.” This week, however, the walks became a source of frustration. She did not like stepping onto the cold, wet ground, yet she adamantly refused to relieve herself on asphalt. She would just stand around, shivering, but no sooner would we return home than she’d start whining to be taken out again.

The first time we attempted to put the bootees on, we nearly wet our own pants because we were laughing so hard. Thoroughly confused and a bit unnerved, Emmie evoked the image of a horse learning to canter as she goose-stepped around the apartment. A week later, she is still unconvinced about her new footwear, shaking uncontrollably when we put the bootees on, but we think she is also coming to appreciate their benefit. She no longer tries to dislodge them from her paws and she is happy to explore the wet grass again.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Marina #

    Just like Cora…I’ll have to find and send you the video.

    November 26, 2013
    • Yes, please do. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it and I wasn’t around for that. Thanks Musik!

      November 26, 2013
  2. Sharon Nyatanga #

    those shoes are just perfect. i like them to bits.winter really is here

    November 26, 2013
    • Thanks! Perfect they may be, but they’re still a pain to put on.

      November 26, 2013
  3. I just discovered your blog and I love love love that photo! We considered booties for our African dog now here in Turkey. Last winter was mild and so far this year we are lucky with mild weather. But the big winter is coming and so is his jacket in the mail, thanks to my mother, plus a matching one for the Turkish stray we took in. She doesn’t need it in particular, but a matching set on sale is hard to turn away. Measuring the stray was tricky — she collapses and rolls around to find an opportune get-away moment, but finally we got a number that I think is close enough. Now maybe we can get out in the snow for more than the few minutes it takes to use the facilities so they don’t turn our living room into a doggie romper room when the energy gets pent up.

    December 5, 2013
    • Aww, thanks :) The booties are a bit difficult to put on at first, but there are some great instructional videos on how to get your dog to stand and put pressure on her paws while you fit them on. Where in Africa were you?

      December 6, 2013
      • We were in Mozambique. Now in Ankara and just got the first blizzard of the season. Hopefully it will keep to last year’s model and melt within a day or so before the next storm moves through.

        December 8, 2013
        • Very cool, we have friends from Nairobi who are headed to Mozambique next year. We just had a small doze of powder – nothing that can be properly called snow – but we’ve been dreading the coming winter for at least two months and now it seems to have finally arrived. Subzero temperatures the last week and a half and everyone says to brace ourselves because it’s only the beginning. Our bidding criteria moving forward might be to eliminate from contention all posts where we can’t wear flip-flops year-round.

          December 8, 2013
          • We too are being hit with “what were we thinking?”, but the flurries are beautiful and it does feel like Christmas. I just dread driving it it. Here’s hoping for a mild winter for us both!

            December 9, 2013

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