Photo Essay: Snow-Frosted Bouvier

It’s snowing, again. Last time I checked the thermometer, when I let Barnum out, it was seven degrees Fahrenheit.

As I’ve blogged recently, we fixed my outdoor, snow-worthy powerchair and got my two-way radios working. Then Barnum and I were able to go for a few walks.

Since we’re expected to get one-and-a-half to two new feet of snow fall, in addition to the four feet we already have, I don’t think Barnum and I will be doing much “roadwork” in the next day or two. What’s a disabled trainer/handler and a service-dog-in-training to do?

Enjoy the snow, of course! Bask in the memories of our recent walks!

Here are some pictures of Barnum, the abominable adorable snow-dog, getting out and about, enjoying the snow and freezing temps. (Making use of that water-repellent, Bouvier des Flandres double coat, bred to withstand harsh conditions.)

First, I have to gear up:

Powerchair covered with cold weather gear

Snow-worthiness checked? Check. Layers to put on? Check.

[Photo description: Huge powerchair with black parka, red scarf, red hat, and tan mittens draped over the seat. A green leash, attached to the chair, is looped around the left arm rest.]

Then I have to put Barnum’s gear on him:

Barnum in orange vest on ramp surrounded by snow

I'm ready! Can we GO now, please?

[Photo description: Barnum, a furry black brindle bouvier des Flandres, stands on a black metal mesh ramp with black metal railings. He is dressed in a bright orange vest with reflective strips. He gazes into the distance. The snow on either side of the ramp reaches his elbows.]

Barnum is not so patient while I get dressed:

Can we GO yet? Ive already sampled the snow, and its delicious.

What about now? Can we go NOW? I've already sampled the snow, and its delicious.

[Photo description: Barnum stands in the doorway, looking up. His beard is encrusted with snow, and little balls and flecks of snow and ice stick to his fur on his head and body.]

Okay! I’m ready to go out in the pleasant weather (defined as, “Above 10 degrees Fahrenheit”):

Sharon bundled up for a walk in the snow

Layering for warmth! Oh, and fashion, of course. Soooo fashionable....

Sharon does her pre-flight radio instrument check

Testing, Alpha Bravo Charlie... Receiving transmission? Over.

[Photo description: In the first image, Sharon wears a self-deprecating smile as she sits in her powerchair, a leash in one gray-wool-gloved hand, a walkie-talkie in the other. She is wearing heavy gray sweatpants and a bulging black parka. She has a gray wool hat pulled down practically to her eyebrows, over which is a baby-blue sweatshirt hood. Wrapped around the hood is a huge red-and-black knit scarf. In the second, Sharon holds the two-way radio up to her mouth.]

Then off we went for our walk, which I’ve detailed in the aforementioned previous post.

But Barnum did not want to come inside. After all, it was snowing and well-below freezing, and he’d just been for a walk. Why would he want to come in?

Barnum, King of the Hill, surveys his domain from atop his snowy peak

First, to get the lay of the land. . . .

Branaum, King of the Hill, surveys the other direction

. . . In all directions. . . .

[Photo description: Barnum sits atop an enormous mound of snow, several feet high, next to the house. He is level with the windows of the house. He wears his orange vest, and his beard is white with snow.]

Then, when the gear came off, it was time to zoom around and play! First, run away from Mom. Then. . . .

Barnum at the very end of the snow-covered ramp, running

I think Mom called me.

Running up the ramp

I'm coming, Mom!

Barnum runs on the snowy ramp, head down

Almost there!

Barnum's head and shoulder's, very shaggy, his snout totally white with snow, his head cocked to the side in a very adorable, questioning way

So, you called?

[Image description: Four photos of Barnum running from the very end of a long, snow-covered ramp, to a close-up of his face and shoulders, his eyes hidden by his black fall, his head tilted to the side, questioningly, and the top of his nose and his beard white with snow.]

After a treat and greet, it was off to play some more!

Barnum runs to the top of a very large "snow cliff"

Run up here!

Play bow in the deep snow

And play bow!

Barnum runs down a snow bank

And run down here!

Barnum downhill playbow with snow face

And play bow!

[Image description: Four photos of Barnum playing in the snow. First, up a high cliff of snow, a paw in the air, blurred by movement. Then doing a play-bow, his front half and muzzle invisible in the snow, his eyes just visible above it. Then running down a steep snow bank. Then another play-bow in the gully, one side of his face caked with snow.]

And then, of course, a thorough roll in the snow, with lots of face rubbing. . . .

Side of Barnums face caked with thick snow

I have a little what? Where?

Barnum standing against a backdrop of snow, his legs covered with snow, and his face, especially the muzzle and the right side, totally caked with snow and ice

Why are you laughing, Mom?

[Image descriptions: The first photo is an extreme closeup of the side of Barnum’s face, which is completely caked and matted with snow, except for his eye. The second shows Barnum’s whole body, standing sideways with head turned toward the camera. His legs are full of snow balls, and his face is caked with snow, especially around his nose, where some snow balls the size of grapes cling to his fur.]

Eventually I got cold and went inside. Finally, Barnum decided he was ready to come in, too:

Barnum sits outside the storm door, a thick layer of snow on his coat, especially his face. In the relfelction of the glass, Sharon is visible holding up the camera, taking Barnum's picture

Mom! Can you please stop taking pictures of me, and let me in?

And these photos were all taken before the latest storm!

But how can I not enjoy the snow with this funny guy at my side?

Extreme closeup of Barnum's face, side view, his brown eye peeking out from under the snow and hair

My Sweet Snowy Bouvie Boy

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum (polar bouv)

P.S. Readers, I’d appreciate hearing from you whether you enjoyed this photo essay, and if I should do more. (Such as some from Barnum’s puppyhood.)

Likewise, to my blind and low-vision readers, does a photo essay hold interest for you if I include the photo descriptions, as I have above, or do you just skip this type of thing? I’m happy to get comments below, or you can contact me privately at the contact page.

Thank you!

t you that winter I felt I’d have died,

but really I’d just have missed

a few more meals, water for pills, maybe pissed

myself or spil


16 Responses to “Photo Essay: Snow-Frosted Bouvier”

  1. 1 poetactics February 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Hi there. I really enjoy your blog (I can’t remember if I’ve commented before, so I’d like to say thank you for blogging!). I think the photo essay is really fun–the pictures and commentary really had me laughing!

  2. 2 Kathy February 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I loved the pictures! They made me smile. Wish you could get video of the action (where’s the spare videographers when you need them?!). Barnum is such a lovable goof.

    I know there’s a way to make a gallery of pictures in WordPress; I was just reading about it. That way you could have a static page to link to and the load time for the post is faster. But I didn’t have a problem loading your
    post and I’m on an iPhone so this doesn’t appear to be an issue for you? I
    know just enough to get myself in trouble 🙂

    Back on topic, yes definitely would love to see more pictures of your furry kid!

  3. 3 Sharon Wachsler February 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Hi Poetactics!

    No, I’m pretty sure you’ve never commented before. So, thank you! It’s nice to meet you.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. smiling.

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler February 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

    I didn’t know that about the wp picture gallery. I keep learning more about WP, but there’s always more to learn!

    I do have a new videocamera, actually, that I got for my birthday, but I haven’t been able to upload and edit the videos because the software it comes with is incompatible with Linux. (I use Ubuntu as my OS.) However, a friend is helping me with it, so hopefully soon I’ll have some good, new, EDITED videos to post, as well.

    If you think he’s cute now, you should see the baby pictures! He’s practically indecently adorable.

  5. 5 Courtenay February 3, 2011 at 2:04 am

    I liked this one! Though, I like most of your posts, if not all of them! I do wish all the photos were the same size, but that’s just my own thing, I think.

  6. 6 Sharon Wachsler February 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Hi Courtenay,
    Thank you for the feedback!
    I was worried if it was just a lot of large photos in a row down the middle that it would get boring, although it certainly would have been easier to format, so I’ll take that into consideration f or next time!
    I do think, if you want to see any of the pics larger, you can click on them and it will take you to a larger version. If anyone knows if I’m right or wrong about this, please let me know. smile.

  7. 7 brilliantmindbrokenbody February 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Aww, he is just so darn CUTE! He reminds me eversomuch of Hudson. The boyfriend and the roommate agree that they’re very similar looking.

    Your adventures with Barnum get me thinking sometimes that perhaps for my next SD, I might consider training one for myself. Of course, the downside is, I’m incredibly fragile and easily injured, so I worry about what a dog will accidentally do to me when adult-sized and puppy-brained.


  8. 8 Brooke & Cessna February 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I love reading about your adventures with Barnum and hearing about how you use Sue Ailsby’s clicker training methods because I used to attend a training program where we followed her Levels. I’m trying to leisurely use them with my 20 month old male golden who will hopefully soon be making his debue in the show ring, but at times I find the shaping hard to do with my limited sight. I also enjoy your photo comentaries, let’s me know I’m not missing out on anything I can’t see 🙂 Keep on posting!

  9. 9 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Yes, I think Hudson is a labradoodle, isn’t he?

    We met a black labradoodle over the summer, and they hit it off like gangbusters. And they did look remarkably alike! I had never met a labradoodle before, and the lightbulb went off about why people have asked me, ever since I started taking Jersey into public (1999), if my bouvs were doodles. In fact, the other people at the beach, where they were playing, thought they were siblings.

    Yeah, the fragility thing is no small matter. Also, it’s a shitload of work. I am doing a really slow, sloppy job, and it’s still a huge amount of work. And doodles are much higher energy than bouvs, generally. (Bouvs are pretty low-key around the house, but they are also usually not as biddable/massively eager-to-please as the retrievers.)

    more on the fragility/injury thing in the next reply….

  10. 10 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm


    Thanks so much for your comment! I’m really curious — where did you use the Levels? Oh, you’re in Canada, aren’t you? I think Sue’s methods are better known in Canada than the US. Well, I would love to hear more about what you did and where. She has a new set of levels coming out as a book very soon, and she will have the book in a variety of formats, she says.

    It’s so fascinating to read your blog and your stories of so many dogs — the guide dogs, the pets, the pups in training for programs. I don’t know how you do it! Sometimes I read something like your blog, and I think about getting a smaller dog, a rescue, as a pet, or to foster. I’ve had to enact some difficult rules here, that my PCAs and Betsy can’t lavish Barnum with attention whenever they want, as it interferes with his focus and training. I know it’s hard on them (much harder on them than Barnum), and I think a dog to “spoil” might be nice. It would also be a way for Barnum to get exercise in the yard when I can’t take him out.

    I would love to read more posts from you about how you balance it all, and how you keep your guides focused on you and not overly bonded with the puppies, etc. And do you do additional training with your guides — continuing education?

    Also, thanks so much for commenting about the photo commentaries! It’s really good to know they make a difference. I sometimes wonder if I’m just boring or losing my blind or low-vision readers if I use too many photos, and whether the descriptions are of use or not. I suspect that’s true for some, but it’s nice to know it’s not across the board! smiling.

  11. 11 Courtenay February 8, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    “Also, thanks so much for commenting about the photo commentaries! It’s really good to know they make a difference. I sometimes wonder if I’m just boring or losing my blind or low-vision readers if I use too many photos, and whether the descriptions are of use or not. I suspect that’s true for some, but it’s nice to know it’s not across the board! smiling.”

    I’m not low-vision, but I love the commentaries. They provide a context that the photo doesn’t, sometimes, and give more details.
    Also, just another woot ubuntu 🙂

  12. 12 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm


    Please explain, “Woot Ubuntu.”

    I use linux/ubuntu OS, but I don’t know how you would know that from my posts?

    Enlighten this computer-semi-illiterate, please! grin

  13. 13 Courtenay February 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Heh. You said so, above! You were discussing a wordpress plugin or something.
    I use it also, and use “woot” as a celebratory sound, like one might make at a hockey game? I’m quite a fan of it, and love to read that others use it too!

  14. 14 brilliantmindbrokenbody February 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah, Hudson’s a ‘doodle.

    He actually is quite the couch potato for a ‘doodle. He likes to play at the dog park, but other than that, he’s pretty content being a lazy, lazy boy. He’s not the type that wants for daily exercise. He’s got the eager-to-please side of things, but not so much the high energy thing, thank goodness.

    The big excitement for him is me waking up in the morning. He frisks around in the area between the bed and my dresser, rubbing his head on the bed, and does his doggy breakdancing. Even food isn’t as exciting as me waking up. I think the second best moment of the day is when we get home and his harness comes off so he gets off-duty. That gets some frisking and bigtime breakdancing.


  15. 15 Sharon Wachsler February 10, 2011 at 10:49 am


    Ah, yes. Right. Did I mention I have memory issues? ;-b

  16. 16 Sharon Wachsler February 10, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Wow, they really do sound alike!

    Barnum does his wiggly dance for when I wake up in the morning and pay attention to him. I had to teach him not to just come at me like gangbusters just because I’m awake, but wait until I’m truly awake and interacting. But he is super affectionate and happy then.

    I am going to start trying to get him familiar with the harness he’ll probably wear under his pack, and making short field trips with him. My guess is that he’s going to be one of those excited to leave, really excited to arrive at foreign destination, excited to get home dogs. 🙂

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