Last night temps dipped into the teens here in Southeast Missouri. There was frost on the ground by 9:00 p.m. Up to stoke the wood stove before dawn this morning, the dogs didn't leave the confines of the warm bed to follow me into the living room as they normally would. When I made it back to the bedroom, I couldn't see anything of Frank but his butt that was sticking out from under his favorite blanket. Shorty was buried in the pillows and didn't budge when I crawled into the sheets again. Roman was still covered, balled up and snoring when I returned. Jack didn't even look up.
Being Saturday, I slept in late. A little too late as I could feel the chill in the house when I woke and quickly got up to get the wood stove stoked. Typically, all the dogs would be up and ready to jump and run before I got my slippers on. But this morning, not one of them moved. Instead, they all just laid there looking at me as if to say, "get the fire going and I'll see you when it warms up in here."
It was certainly chilly as I pulled on my hoody and noticed the thermometer in the dining room showed 59 degrees. A quick check of the stove revealed a small bed of coals and a firebox full of ash. I decided I might as well clean it out while it wasn't overly hot so I set to shoveling out the ash, careful to preserve some of the biggest coals to get the fire going again. All that noise and still no dogs in sight.
I made my way out to empty the ash bucket, stopped at the woodpile for and arm full of logs, and back into the house. It was certainly frigid. I could see my breath.
Back in the house there was still no sign of the dogs. I began to worry and made my way back into the bedroom to check on them. All were still buried in blankets and sawing their own invisible logs.
I got the fire going, swept the floor, and then went back to the bedroom to see what on earth was keeping the dogs from coming to the front of the house. I couldn't believe it when I made it to the back and found them all still asleep. I clapped my hands. I said "outside" more than once. Only Jack looked at me paying attention at all, but still no movement.
Now, I myself hate the cold. But I had gotten up, got the stove cleaned, got the fire going, got things straightened up, and made a ton of racket doing it. Still they slept. Honestly, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back in beside them and snuggle up. It was a long and restless night, but that's another story altogether.
Finally I tried rousing them. Shorty climbed right out of the pillow pile and under the blanket with Frank. I tried to get Frank to play. He wagged his tail and otherwise didn't move. Romey, well, he just grunted and rolled over. Jack lay still in the floor just eyeballing the process.
This was worse than trying to get kids out of bed for school.
I finally walked out into the dining room and pulled out the secret weapon- the squeaky ball. "Squeak. Squeak."
Finally they all came running and scrambling to the front of the house, and I could see as they did, that they were contemplating returning to the comfort of the blankets and warm bed. I quickly moved to the back door. "Potty", I said. And they all moved toward the door, stopping short when they felt the cold air.
Nope. That was a game changer. They all had to pee, but they weren't having any part of that cold blast. I had to quickly get to the bedroom door to keep them from going back to bed. I then went back to the dining room, opening the door, and literally had to push them all outside.
They all did their business in record time and in what seemed like only seconds were back at the door, Frank barking to be let in. When I opened the door, all came inside like a shot out of a cannon. The brisk air had woke them all up. Shorty barking like a mad dog, Roman doing zoomies through the house, and Frank trying to find a way back into the bedroom and barking profusely at the bedroom door like somehow that would make it open.
Plans for the day changed so and I did something I almost never do. I did nothing but read, stoke the fire, and carry in the occasional armload of firewood. I read blogs. Blogs about refurbishing old houses. Blogs about farm living. Blogs about people spending a year sailing on the ocean on their boat. Blogs about animals. Hours of reading, and it was blissful. I did manage to bake a pan of hot rolls.
And the dogs- well, they did what they do best. Nothing. Slept. Snored. Chased rabbits (or cats) in their sleep. They occasionally got up to go out to do their business with a little coaxing of a treat. But for the most part, they soaked up the warmth of the stove. In front of the stove is the place to be in these temps and they all know it.