We had our weekly puppy playdate group today—which made two gatherings for the happy canines and their human moms this week. 

The group is usually a minimum of three friends, which means at least five dogs.  There are few others who often join, which can easily expand the four-legged count to ten or more. 

I’m not sure exactly what that says about us all at this point in the COVID siege?  Is it crazy that we look forward to our time together as much as our dogs do? 

We’re ending January right now.  In Vermont.  It’s winter.  It’s cold.  It’s not … pleasant to be standing around outside.  Long gone are our days of hikes with golden hues from autumnal harvest sunsets or the Indian summer surprise weekends that kept us chatting for three hours as we overlooked the bucolic fields below.

For this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday were forecast for high temperatures that the meteorologists colorfully called “bone chilling.”  School had been delayed on Friday due to “excessive windchill”.  If school age children were being told to be cautious and stay inside, it seemed like a reasonable question to pose to my friends.  Did they want to skip this it?  

“I’m game!” came the first text—within minutes.  “If you guys are up for it, I need to get this puppy out!” 

“Me too!  We can walk—we’ll be warmer!” came the second. 

 With such unbridled enthusiasm, why wouldn’t we do it?  The dogs are always up for it.  Judging by the squeaks and squeals of delight that they all sing on their car rides now, it’s the highlight of the week for them. 

So, first three of us joined up yesterday afternoon.  Then, another friend asked me if she could get together with us on Sunday—she wasn’t on the original text and didn’t know that sometimes we do Saturdays, sometimes Sundays.  No surprise:  the friends agreed to come again for another stint of layering up and then hiking a bit to keep warm.

This meant another puppy joined us, her son’s, a six-month Australian Shepherd mix.  He came in with his tail tucked, but in five minutes, passed from overwhelmed to overjoyed.   

The silver lining to all this?  I feel like I’ve getting to watch about six puppies grow up this year!