So far, winter has been a real pain in the you-know-what. There’s been way too much snow, that has come at the most inopportune times. And it’s been way too cold. 

They say it’s going to be a high of 14 and a low of 7 today. Those aren’t temperatures, those are shoe sizes. The temperature should never be lower than my age.

Even our Beagle Boy Cletus has been unimpressed with the weather. He loves being outside, but more so in better weather. He’s not a snowball-chasing kind of guy. 

In better weather, the whole driveway is a sunspot for him to lay in. If he gets too hot, he just moves into the grass under the tree for a bit. 

Now the driveway is just a frozen tundra to be traversed on our way to the garage now and then. We don’t even go out there all that often now. There’s no point in wasting the wood heating it up unless we have a good reason for being out there. 

Cletus doesn’t understand that you can’t mess around when it’s 7 degrees outside. He needs to do his business and get back in the house. But no, he’s a lolligagger. 

By the time he gets in, he’s chilled to the bone. Daddy pampers him by turning on the heating pad — like a Beagle-sized electric blanket — so he can warm up.

In the summer, Cletus likes walking back to the garden where we tie him to a stake in the yard and he follows the squirrel paths while Dave and I get some work done. 

Now the best he can do is be ticked off at the ferrydiddle in the wall who makes noise and scares the bejesus out of him. He doesn’t even like the regular squirrels running around in the front yard. 

They chase each other around and Cletus stands up in the window and "baroos" for all he’s worth. The squirrels freak out and race up the tree. Undeterred, Cletus runs upstairs and barks at them some more from the bedroom window, where he can see them eye to eye. 

Winter has also brought our camping season to a standstill. Cletus loves everything about the campground. 

We did get to spend a little time with fellow campers around the holidays and at the recent potluck dinner. But poor little Cletus wasn’t invited. He had to content himself with a couple of overnight guests at our house. 

He spent Friday night plastered all over Nitta’s lap and Saturday and Sunday with Auntie Sandi. No potluck dinner, though. 

And no more hot dogs for him either. No wonder he’s fat. Dave and I were cutting up a hot dog into as many pieces as possible for him so we could make our escape any time we needed to leave without him. 

It seems no amount of spoiling him has eradicated his separation anxiety issues. I put the hot dog pieces on a paper plate, set it on the living room floor and slide the baby gate across the doorway.

He gobbles up every last piece as fast as he can and blasts through the unlatched gate. If all goes well, I am on the other side of the back door when he hits it full force, howling all the while. 

I make sure the outside gate is latched and head for the Jeep. Dave had already made his escape while I was putting the hot dog down. 

By the time I get in the Jeep, Cletus has already raced upstairs to the bedroom window, and stands there licking his lips and watching us leave, again howling all the while.  

Good plan except for what the hot dogs are doing to his waistline. So now we’ve switched to lean turkey lunchmeat and he’s going back on the healthy weight dog food. The fascination he had with the new kind he got from Auntie Sandi was only because it was new.

Regardless of the weather, the ritual of my lunchbox has remained the same. Every day when I get home from work, Cletus hangs around in the kitchen. I go through the same guessing game trying to figure out what it is that he wants and finally come to the conclusion that he doesn’t need food, water or a potty break.

He just wants to be around for the emptying of my lunchbox. He’s convinced he’s got a shot at something hitting the floor. When it’s empty, he goes about his business — napping on the couch.

I learned the hard way not to put anything food-related in it when it’s not in the fridge. Cletus has no qualms with removing whatever sparks his interest.

The other day, we bought some of his favorite chew sticks. Cletus dove into the Jeep, shoved his head in the bag and hauled out a little bag of Doritos. Nope, those are Mommy’s and I took them back.

He went back to the bag and came up with a little bag of chips. Sorry, those are Daddy’s.

Third time’s a charm, he finally grabbed the bag of chew sticks and was so excited when he was allowed to exit the Jeep with the fruits of his labors.

I tried to convince him to let me help him open them, but he did it his way, ripping the whole bottom out of the bag and dropping three chew sticks in the snow. I’m pretty sure I saw him "flip the paw" at Old Man Winter on that one.

Copyright 2018 Laura Nethken