D ear Old Trainer: My husband and I moved from Wichita, Kan., to Jackson, Wyo., when we retired this summer. Lola, our 5-year-old Samoyed, stayed outside in the winter in Wichita. It is much colder here and gets down to zero at night, but she still insists on staying out at night. It was snowing last night and I heard her howling. I thought she was cold, but when I called her in she wanted right back out. I worry about her. We have a good doghouse, but can she take that kind of cold?
– Arlene, Jackson, Wyo.
Dear Arline: Yes, she can. Samoyeds originated in the Arctic area of Siberia. A Wyoming winter is child’s play for Lola.
Her thick fur makes her impervious to winter no matter how low the temperature drops. She is more comfortable outside than in a warm house. She loves the cold, but there is another factor at work.
Samoyeds have not changed much since they evolved from the Russian wolf. Winter weather is part of her genetic code and it comforts her to be part of it. There is a wolf core deep in the brain of Samoyeds that still hears the call of the wild.
Samoyeds have chosen to be companion to man, but part of their soul still resides somewhere out there west of the wind, racing the storm and howling at the moon, part of the eternal chase.
Lola remembers when wolves ruled the night. Her ancestors hunted and played and raced through the night, so Lola does not fear darkness, she craves it. She is a hunter and is calm and content when she is part of the night.
Above all, Samoyeds love storms. Nothing excites a Samoyed like a good blizzard. They talk to storms and the storms talk back. The more intense the storm, the more it tells them. Lola is in her element in a blizzard. She sings and plays and slips without a sound through the shadows on the snow.
Lola was not howling in distress, she was singing to the night. Samoyeds love to sing to the moon and stars when they feel good and they never feel better than in the middle of a storm.
Lola doesn’t even have to have a doghouse. She can sleep in a snowbank. A doghouse comes in handy though, when she feels the urge to retreat into a den and watch the world go by. Put a foot of straw in the bottom of the dog house. Don’t use blankets because they get wet and freeze solid as a rock. Change the straw once a month and make sure her water dish is not frozen. That’s all she needs.
And don’t worry about Lola. Observe the way she frolics through the winter. Get out there and play right along with her. It is a rare and beautiful thing to see a Samoyed in her element. I know. I lived with one in the high country for a lot of good winters. Now and then, sitting by the fire on a stormy night, I dream she’s still out there, racing the ridges and howling at the moon.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.