As I write this post, the temperature in Antarctica is currently warmer than it is here in Milwaukee.
OK, that’s not entirely fair because technically, it *is* summer in the Southern Hemisphere — which explains the obscene heat tormenting the fine folks in Australia right now. But with wind chills plummeting to 50-below-zero thanks to a polar vortex that dislodged from Santa’s neck of the woods and settled over the midwest, I would be more comfortable in Alaska, Siberia or even in certain places on the planet Mars than I would be if I stepped outside my front door over the next 30 hours or so.
Fortunately, I have an arsenal of Milwaukee heated gear to get me through this nightmare: two jackets, two vests, a hoodie and gloves; along with my insulated overalls (I really wish I’d have picked up the base layer and balaclava) to keep me warm when I need to venture out in to the frozen hell that is my universe right now.
Unfortunately, my dog isn’t quite as lucky. He’s got boots and a good thick coat, but none of that is enough to keep him safe on days like we’re about to have. And even when the temperatures and wind chills aren’t at life-threatening levels, it’s still not enough sometimes to make a good, brisk walk tolerable or even possible.
And fortunately, again, there is a solution.
Home Depot is one of several stores in my area with a dog-friendly policy. I emailed their media relations department a little while back asking for more information, and they explained that while it’s ultimately at the discretion of each store, well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome in their stores.
That’s great news for me — and Hollywood — especially during the winter time when walking along salt-laden sidewalks make daily exercise nearly impossible and cold, harsh conditions can make it dangerous to the safety of both of us.
Stuart wrote last week about how much he enjoys visiting his local Home Depot, and I couldn’t agree more about my own local store. Thanks to the dilapidated hoarder’s nest I’m currently taking through probate, I visit my store several times a week (Store 4902 in West Allis, Wis.), or several times a day if I’m working on a project, and 90 percent of the time, I’ve got my little buddy in tow.
He loves every second of it. The floors are clean, the aisles are wide, there are plenty of smells and the staff genuinely seems to enjoy having furry friends in the store, especially mine, as evidenced by the amount of puppy love he gets during each visit (especially from JoAnn at the front desk, who I think he likes more than he likes me).
Just the other day, hours before a storm was expected to dump roughly a foot of snow on the area, we ran to the store so I could pick up some new furnace filters to prepare for the eventual arctic blast. We took the “long way” around the store — walking in, going up and down each and every aisle and back to the car — which comes out to almost exactly one mile.
We weren’t alone, either. During our 30-minute stroll, I counted six other dogs getting their steps in while their owners picked up supplies.
Home Depot isn’t the only pet-friendly store, either. Lowe’s has long welcomed dogs into its stores, again if they’re well-behaved, friendly and on a leash, and Farm & Fleet recently changed its policy, too, allowing dogs in its stores, which made it a lot easier to get my dog new boots last weekend.
It’s worth mentioning, of course, that these stores are still retailers doing business, and not doggy daycares or dog parks. My closest Home Depot location draws a significant amount of commercial traffic, so I know to stay away during the early morning and lunch hours, as well as early evenings when I know the store is going to be exceptionally busy. And while I’m fortunate that my pooch doesn’t “go” indoors (though, right now, I wouldn’t be against it), I always make sure to keep a baggie or two and a handful of napkins in my pocket, just in case.
So while he and I are hunkered down for at least another 24 hours, I’m relatively sure our first stop, once temperatures return to tolerable levels, will be Home Depot. And I’m reasonably sure he’ll enjoy it even more than I do.