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The cool dogs of February

Karen Wils photo A little beagle having some February fun.

ESCANABA — The dogs of February are frosty, fun and sometimes a little famous.

The Upper Peninsula is home to some super sled dogs. Even though most of the race competitions have been canceled this year due to the lack of snow, huskies still dash beneath the U.P. moonlight.

A team of Siberians pulling a sled through the balsams and cedars along the lakeshore is picturesque and rustic romantic.

Some of our U.P. sled dogs go on to run in world famous races like the Iditarod.

Many of us have enjoyed cheering on the dog teams at the U.P 200 or the Midnight Run races.

Dogs have been selectively bred for thousands of years. The wolf is the domestic dog’s common ancestor. Therefore, most canines love the brisk winter weather and the thrill of bounding through snowdrifts.

The beagle, one of the littlest hounds recognized the American Kennel Club, favors February’s weather too. They may be small and they may be my favorite breed, but the hardy hounds love to hunt and run on wintery days.

There are over six beagle clubs in the U.P. and many of them hold annual “snow trials.” These are contests that award ribbons to the best hunting beagle. Speed, scenting ability and beagle brain power merit AKC points by judges in the woods and field.

Sometimes people ask how can beagles not much more than 13 inches tall at the shoulders (withers) run in the deep snows near Lake Superior? Like jet propelled speed boats they swim swiftly through the snow follow the scent of a hare.

February is also a good month to view pups on TV. The “puppy bowl” aired on Super Bowl Sunday. The football game may well have been exciting, but the pups made millions of folks smile and hug their own pets.

That brings us to the “best in show” of all of the February dogs… our own lovable pooches. The family pet dog whether he/she is a Labrador retriever, a French bulldog, labradoodle, corgi, dachshund or a lovely mixture of several breeds, is the perfect and the most famous dog for February.

Using a little common sense, depending on the outside temperature, depth of the snow or mud puddles, most pets will love to go for a walk while the icicles start to drip and the sap starts to rise.

Boots, snowshoes or ice cleats are sometimes necessary for February hikes. Dress in layers because of the changeable weather the U.P. is so famous for.

Fido may need a poop scoop for the romp and a dry “doggie towel” for when he gets home all wet and muddy.

Yes, the winter of 2024 was a little disappointing, but sometimes March can bring some mighty snowstorms.

Snow, mud, fog or sun leash up your best friend and take a walk. You’ll have a tail wagging good time.

——

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.

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