Winter in Chicago is a lonely season. Bundled against the elements, people brave the outdoors only when necessary. The lakefront, vibrant in the warmer months, is desolate in deep winter. For Penny and me, this year’s solitude is especially pronounced. She no longer shares warmth with Eko on the couch, and there’s often no other dogs at the beach for her to play with. I can do a lot for Penny, but I can’t offer her the companionship that another dog can.
So I was happy to help when our friends needed someone to watch their pup while they went on their honeymoon. Losing Eko left a big hole in Penny’s life, and if you have a big hole to fill, our pal Leo the Bernese Mountain Dog (emphasis on mountain) is the right guy for the job.
We call Leo our house guest not because we have a house, but because he’s the size of one. This massive, loveable lug moved in on Thursday and will be staying with us through the week. Even in the few days he’s been here Leo has already helped stave off our winter isolation. When I leave the apartment Penny has someone to hang out with, and there’s always another dog to play with at the beach.
Even the most ferocious of winter weather doesn’t deter this friendly beast. And best of all, big friends are perfect for big battles. Penny gets a real kick out of stalking her mammoth pal.
And Leo good-naturedly plays along.
The rest of the city may shiver and hide, but these two revel in the storm.
To borrow from Camus, Leo reminds us that while we are in in the depths of winter, within us there lies an invincible summer. Sometimes you just need a friend to help you find it.
There’s no replacing Eko, and as strange as it sounds, that’s a good thing. Because instead of trying to replace what we’ve lost, we can instead spend our days enjoying what (and who!) we find along the way.