The (almost) End of the Long, Gray Winter

It's February in Cleveland. Just that phrase conjures images of gray skies and slushy streets, bone-chilling cold -- and reluctant dog walks. Looking out the window as I write this, I note that Cleveland does not disappoint: the sky could not be more gray, the powdery whiteness has given way to pale brown slush, and it's pretty stinkin' cold out there.

But it's almost spring! This is what we tell each other starting around March 1 to assure ourselves that it will indeed, despite all current evidence to the contrary, eventually be springtime, beautiful and balmy and even (for a time) sweet-smelling.

For dog lovers, it's an especially welcome vision: no more begging the dog to "hurry up" so we can rush back inside, no more worries of taking a bad fall on an icy sidewalk. We just can't wait to enjoy leisurely strolls and conditions that allow our furry friends to explore the trails (and sidewalks) freely once again.

So, as much as the Cleveland winter dreariness can be overwhelming, we know that soon the green will reappear and we will be able to go to Edgewater beach and the Metropark trails as well as the backyard patio, dogs by our sides.

And those outdoor moments of springtime are wonderfully picturesque -- be sure to let us capture your dog's antics on film this season. (And at this time next year, you could be looking at a framed photo of him or her happily frolicking in the green, green grass. It could make next February a little less dreary!)