Toby padded outside even though he would have much preferred to stay curled up on the sofa, drowsy with sleep and snuggled against Janet’s thigh for warmth. He stopped just across the threshold. His hearing, usually so sharp and reliable, was dulled. Night sounds were dampened all around and he raised his head in case anything was approaching. Satisfied he was alone, Toby took a few more steps.
Under his feet the floor gave slightly, depressing a little with each step. White crunches fluffed around his toes, filling the gaps between them and matting in the hairs. It felt strange, definitely not like the sofa or the carpet, not like the normal green outside or even the sticky brown of the path through the woods they walked on weekends. It was wet, not quite like the stream or a puddle. More like standing on a towel used too often, where the dampness seeps slowly.
Toby walked to the closest bush and raised his leg, just high enough. Steam clouds rose as he emptied his bladder for the first time since morning. His long stream dribbled and melted a patch, the diameter growing steadily as he relieved his internal pressure. Falling onto white, it splashed and echoed less than normal.
Feeling more comfortable and his interest peaked, Toby pushed his face into a pile of snow that had drifted against the garden wall. His nose, dry from a difficult day, was shocked by the biting coldness. He jerked his head back and flicked snow up and behind him with the edge of the safety collar he had been fitted with to stop him biting out his stitches. Surprising himself, he snapped at it, trying to catch it in his mouth. He pushed, jerked and flicked again, and then again until his back was sprinkled like icing sugar on a yule log.
Tiring quickly, he turned back to the house. Janet, watching from the window, opened the door to let him in. The crunches between his toes had grown larger and frosted together, so as he walked across the tiles he tapped just slightly. They both returned to their places on the sofa. Toby rested his feet against Janet so they warmed and thawed, making her trousers damp as they did.