It’s painful to have to walk a dog around 5:45 a.m., especially in winter.

But in some ways it’s rather peaceful.

If it’s not cloudy then you can see the stars. There’s hardly any cars on the roads. There’s a bunny here and there.

And all you can hear are our footsteps. The world feels fast asleep.

Lately it’s been rather playful on our walks, too. I’ve brought along a cloth frisbee or a Kong toy on the end of a rope and tossed it for Spirit, our almost-one-year-old border collie/lab mix, in a schoolyard nearby. Spirit is a natural at fetch. There’s something about seeing her race after the toy, grabbing it, and proudly prancing back to you, that warms the heart. Especially when she does a little victory lap before dropping the toy at your feet.

It’s also endearing to see the accumulating frost around her snout and on her whiskers, the longer we play in the cold.

By the time we need to head on home, the chickadees have woken up and are chirping their hellos. The sky has turned an almost sepia tone.

And Spirit is still prancing. And I have a bit of a spring in my step, too.

Simple pleasures: a dog, a toy, and a field.

Spirit with her chin on her favourite blanket.

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