Yesterday I went to take the dogs on individual walks and decided to throw on my snow pants before leaving the house. I did not check the wind chill but since the actual temperature was twenty and I had on my beloved LulaRoe leggings (the unofficial uniform of bloggers and work at home women) I knew we were going to be in for a brisk walk.
Right now Jax and Tink are getting individual walks because Jax is recovering from a partially torn cruciate ligament. Not only does this make his walk shorter, but Tink is bored out of her mind not being able to play zoomies and all of their other rough and tumble games with him. Plus sometimes I just enjoy one-on-one time with each dog every now and then.
Knowing that I would be outside for at least forty-five minutes to an hour, I threw on my snow pants, my ski jacket and my old skiing neck warmer that I’ve had since at least 1986. Add on a hat, gloves and my dog walking cross body (that perfectly holds a slew of empty poop scooping bags) and my phone, and I was ready.
“Are you taking them through the neighborhood or up Everest?” my husband asked.
“Haha, you’re very funny,” I said, “But I guarantee you I will be the only one out walking and I’ll be nice and comfy and warm!”
Living here in the Chicago suburbs, I find myself the only one of my neighbors who will throw on snow pants and boots and literally run around the back yard throwing snow balls to the dogs and enjoying winter with them. For one thing, Labradors live for winter. They are bred to sit in duck blinds on cold fall mornings; mine spend summer laying on top of the AC vents. Sure, when it dips below zero I make them stay inside because it’s dangerous and their paws freeze quickly, but twenty degree weather is their favorite weather when they are the most active.
The key to having an active dog who loves the winter is to have the right gear. I grew up skiing, sledding, ice skating and ice fishing all winter every year of my life growing up in very rural northwest New Jersey and then northwest Indiana, so winter gear has always been a part of my life. How else are you going to do fun things all winter without freezing your rear off? My wool pea coat is fine for going to the car and back to go to dinner or an event when I have on a cute outfit, and my tall leather boots are a staple of my social wardrobe, but I won’t last more than ten minutes outside playing with my dogs in that outfit!
My favorite brand for outdoor gear is Columbia Sportswear, and this is the time of year to pick up winter gear at a discount to use the rest of this season and for years from now because practically their entire website is on sale!
Here are my favorites that let me spend the most time outside with Jax and Tink at a time of year that they love and that I love just as much as long as I’m dressed right:
Head: You’ve heard that a lot of heat escapes through your head, but there are also your poor ears to consider! Honestly, I look stupid in most hats, I’m the first to admit that, but I’ve found this super cute Peruvian hat. Just be careful with puppies, they like those little balls of yarn at the end. You can ask Miss Tinkerbell how I know about that…
Neck: I love scarves, but when I’m being outdoorsy and active I don’t like something that can catch or get caught. Like I mentioned, I’m using my beloved neck warmer that is circa 1986 because it’s still functional and I have awesome memories of ski trips with my family and shenanigans on the slopes with my brothers, but this is a cute option from Amazon.
Hands: Those thin little 99 cent Wal-Mart gloves are not going to last throwing a ball to your dog for a half hour, plus they get soaking wet the first snowball you make. And what type of snow day is it without tossing snowballs for your pup to fetch or eat? I like the Thermarator Gloves for leashed walks because they are not as bulky and you can hold onto the leash. For actual playing in the snow I like the Bugaboo gloves.
Torso: There are plenty of great ski/winter jackets out there, but right now I am in love with my Kaleidaslope jacket. It’s warm without being bulky or making me look like the Michelin man and it’s cute with jeans when I’m out and about. Plus it’s got their Omni heat lining. I do find myself adding a fleece underneath when the temperature goes below zero, but when it’s that cold the dogs and I are all going into hibernation anyway.
Bottom: For just playing outside with the dogs or going on walks, I am happy with regular snow pants. If I was going to start skiing again I would probably go with a bib to prevent snow and wind from riding up my back, but I’m a fan of the Bugaboo pants like these:
Feet: I am gradually making a nice collection of Columbia boots over the years since they started adding styles that are as cute as they are functional! I find they give good support to your feet and look good with skinny jeans and leggings when I’m out running errands or operating the teen taxi. Since I work from home I have pretty casual attire, but they’re also going to be so cute going in and out of the office so you don’t bust your rear in the office parking lot. Not that I did that in my corporate life…
I am a Columbia affiliate, meaning that if you shop from my Columbia link I will receive a small commission from them. I sought them out and joined their program because I truly love all of their products and have been a loyal shopper for years. If you shop my link, I will be extremely grateful, however you have tons of options in terms of gear and brands and personal preference. No matter what you wear, as long as you view time outside with your dog as a winter sport and dress yourself accordingly, you will be able to share much more quality time with them than if you are freezing and counting down the minutes until you can go back inside.
Of course if you do not have a robust outdoorsy breed who thrives on cooler temperatures, you’ll be better off with a blanket and a warm cup of tea snuggled up safely indoors, and that’s just fine too. After all, spending time with them is the whole reason we have them in our lives, no matter where the fun takes place.