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The Dogs of Mud Time

Updated: Feb 18

Mud Time is that interval here in Northern New England when the 4-6 feet of frost accumulated in the soil over the Winter abruptly thaws. The water in the soil has no place to quickly go, sitting as it does on top of the compressed glacial till (think cement floor). The ground turns to a sloppy quagmire, surrounded by puddles and ponds of icy water. Even walking on turf can be an experience; it is as though you were walking on a swimming pool cover. And any disturbed soil (trails, dirt roads, etc.) becomes miniature quicksand pits. It’s not exactly hell, but it is close, if you must navigate it.

There is one species of animal that adores Mud Time: dogs, particularly our dogs. Clancy and Smudge (pictured above) began life as wussy pups who hated cold and the feel of rain on their backs. Well, that has changed! Having added a few years, the two of them now live for Mud Time. On their walk every afternoon, they charge down to the marsh behind the woodlot to leap into the mirky muck, and delight in turning sideways as they blast into the puddles in order to make as big a splash – and get themselves as wet – as they possibly can.

In the picture, Smudge is lying quite contentedly in water that is probably 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Dog physiology amazes me – particularly their legs and paws, where the veins and arteries run closely together so that the arterial blood warms the cold returning veinal blood and allows them to tolerate extremes of temperature that only meditating Tibetan Buddhist monks can match. For my part, as long as my knee boots don’t spring a leak, I’m a happy man. JOE

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