Dear Old Trainer: My boyfriend and I have a wonderful Samoyed, Smiley, who is 15 months old. Last winter we kept her in the house because she was just a puppy, but this winter she has a dog house and she wants to stay there every night. Lately it has been so cold that I am worried for her, but every night she insists on going out. Should we allow it?
Worried, Scottsbluff, Neb.
A: Don't worry about Smiley, no matter how cold it gets, Worried. Samoyeds originated in the frozen tundra of Siberia, so Smiley can handle below-zero temperatures with ease.
The Old Trainer had the great fortune to share his life for many years with a beautiful Samoyed/huskie mix who spent even the coldest nights stretched out in the snows of Lake Tahoe. Like Smiley, she just refused to stay inside at night. She didn't even use her dog house most nights. I got used to going out in the morning and seeing her rise up out of a drift where she had spent the night, buried in snow.
There's another factor at work with Smiley. Samoyeds, more than most breeds, retain a bit of their wild nature, a memory of the old nomadic days when they roamed from the Urals to the Arctic. Winter storms are in their DNA. They can talk to the storms, and they are comfortable spending their nights under the stars, howling at the moon when they get the urge.
Get a bale of straw at your local feed store and make a bed six inches thick in the dog house. Don't use blankets. They will soon become damp and then frozen. Straw makes the ideal winter bed. And make sure Smiley spends her days and evenings in the house with you. Samoyeds need as much times as possible interacting with their family.
Even in cold weather, make sure she gets as plenty of exercise. Five miles a day is the minimum that Smiley needs. And read the next letter.
Dear Old Trainer: My 2-year old Samoyed, Sam, has developed a beautiful coat this winter. I can't believe how much hair he has, but it is so beautiful. A friend told me that I should not cut it in the hot summers we get here because it provides a natural cooling effect. Is that right?
Proud Owner, Tulsa, Okla.
A: Tell your friend to put on a 4-inch thick fur coat and fur hat and take a stroll down main street the next time it hits 100 degrees and 90 percent humidity in Tulsa, Proud. Then ask for a second opinion, because the first one is nonsense.
Samoyeds shouldn't be in hot weather areas at all, but cut Sam's hair back to one inch in June and he will survive the summer. It will grow out just as beautiful again next fall.
Dog show alert!!!
Yes, it is that time again. The fancy dresses, size extra large, are at the tailors being reinforced for the Hefty Ladies. The patent leather opera pumps are being spit-shined for the Light Foot Lads. Dog show season is here.
The best dog show in the country, the Golden Gate Kennel Club Show, takes place at the Cow Palace in San Francisco Jan. 30 and 31. It is unique in that all the dogs are available for petting and viewing.
The Westminster Kennel Club show runs Feb. 15-16 in New York City. It will again be on USA Channel.
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