It's my least favourite part of the year. The ground is mushy, what sunlight there is is watery, and for the first time in my own personal life there have been chilblains. But for pets, if there's any chance to be outside, there's still reason to quit complaining and smile.
Meet the smiling, non-complaining Shadow, with little Elsa, bothered not a bit by the mud.
Tappet's tail is up - it's cold out, but it's all a big white game.
The Cat Inspectorate has dispatched Sylvester to investigate conditions, which he does with professional precision.
Skaife is a blur in another shot from, I think, last year's snows. In Wellington the snow fell on three consecutive days in the second half of August, so there's no reason for thinking yet that the worst of winter is over.
More snowy paws: Riley the Golden Labrador and Chloe the fearless calico cat.
Some winter mornings are glorious: here are Mo and Cuz relishing a walk in the hills above Wellington's Island Bay. Mo is a Huntaway-Wheaten Terrier cross, and Cuz is a Foxy-something.
Allie the Maine Coon is on the hunt.
Also loving the elevated views are Cloud, left, and Blue (though Blue seems to be experiencing some descent nerves).
One Boxer is a dynamo. Two Boxers, and you could power a city. Here are Bones (the brindle) and Tricks, her daughter.
Duke and Amber are in a well-matched tug-of-war.
Layla and Rocco have fun at the river.
This beautiful soft-coated Wheaten Terrier is named Bracken. I get the impression this breed is gaining popularity.
All Otto's senses are working at maximum. The perky Jack Russell featured in my post a while ago about the breed (and Fox Terriers). His owner, Sophie, told me about a traditional event: "Every year as part of the Wanaka A&P show, there's a Jack Russell race. The 100 to 200 dogs line up (being restrained by their owners), and on 'go' the dogs are released and they all race after a dead rabbit being towed behind a horse. It's absolute mayhem, as three-quarters of the dogs don't run more than 20 metres before giving up the chase and stopping to play with each other. The ones that do carry on run around the rugby field to the finish line - the winner gets a year's supply of dog food. The best part is after the race, watching 150 owners trying to find and catch 150 or so dogs! We have high hopes for Otto in the race, he just needs a bit more training."
Do you remember in the movie As Good As It Gets how the grumpy Jack Nicholson character had his heart melted by a little dog named Verdell? Verdell was a Griffon Bruxellois, a breed with lots of heart-melting ability. Here are two Griffons-in-sweaters - Bambi and Digby.
Even warmth-loving cats can have reason to venture outside - if the venue is sunny and sheltered enough. This is nine-year-old Scooter, robbing a little sun from a pot plant.
Kili has discovered the sweet madness of catnip and another reason to smile.
Mia has heeded the Call of the Porch, which is hard to resist for any domesic cat. Meanwhile, Fox Terrier Lucy sure-foots her way across a creek.
Dionysus takes up his hide amid the vines. His dazzling gingerness is a bit of a giveaway, though.
The gentle smiles of Buddy and Holly, Border Collies.
Sam and his daugher Cindy are agog at something.
Look at those ears! German Shepherd pup Gunner takes in the view (and scent, and soundscape) during an evening walk.
Look at that face! Pugsley's in a cat's preferred position, right next to the outdoors yet wihin a few leaps' distance of his food bowl.
Look at that jump! Roy goes for it.
To finish, here's a beautiful picture with two beautiful smiles - Sammy and Brina, in some mythical place where you'd expect Norse gods to walk their dogs. Great photo, Elspeth.
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