Paul Warford: The Big Melt

Paul Warford: The Big Melt

By: Paul Warford

Walks with a sniffy pupper take on a new life when dealing with the unearthed garbage of winter

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“It looks like she’s – 64 pounds.” 

I nod and say something like, “Oh, okay.” I’m not surprised. Basset Hound females tend to weigh around 55 or so, and I assumed Gabby had gained weight since her last vet appointment. Of course, being an adoptee, my wife and I have never been sure if she’s half Basset Hound, half something else. Would that mean she should be half the weight? While the dog ear thermometer warmed up, the vet told me that the dog could “stand to lose a few pounds.” Couldn’t we all? 

Try not to judge

If you see me walking in the Georgetown area and I’m yelling at my dog, try not to judge. Sometimes Gabby is so distracted by smells that she’ll halt every few feet to sniff something new. 

On days like these, I often lose my patience with her because she’ll go from a natural walking pace alongside me to complete immobility in a split second. Gripping her leash, my own momentum will yank me backwards every time she does this. It gets old real fast. I have to release a slow exhale and remind myself that this is the breed; this is how they are. 

This time of year, when the snow melts, this is when Gabby’s at her worst. As the frigid arctic landscape subsides into damp lawns and gritty patches of snow, the dog is delirious with uncovered scents. 

The sun unearths damp smells of buried pizza crusts and potato peels and the dog is in her glee as she thoughtfully pauses to stick her face in every nook and cranny along my neighbour’s fences. 

“Gabby, c’mon!” I’ll command, pulling as though I’m hauling a donkey behind me while she stays still and pulls back with her 64 pounds of heft. I’ll sigh and pause and breathe, enjoy the calm breeze and wait for her to suit herself. That’s when I start to notice the garbage. 

Each year, during the Big Melt, I’m horrified by the amount of litter that rises to the surface. An entire winter’s worth of Tim Horton’s cups and chip bags break free from their hibernation and come to light to bask. 

They look up at me as they slowly fade in the sunlight and I wonder how much of the city is seeing wrappers and cellophane stir like this. 

Gross waste

I finally pry Gabby loose from the sniffings and we walk on, but the trash seems to follow us; to our left and right there’s nothing but sodden diaper boxes and motor oil bottles with their labels scratched and worn to fibers. 

Like I said, it’s my least favourite time of year to walk Gabby because it takes us twice as long to walk somewhere, and because I have to see what she sees; all this gross waste that I hope we won’t see next year. Sometimes, maybe a layer of snow isn’t such a bad thing. 

In the meantime, keep it clean and dry and enjoy the week and a half of spring while it lasts!

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