Ryan, Good color, but it looks like the item in the foreground was something that got in the way of the lens. If you can restage the photo, I think you might get some very nice results. Glad to see you so active in the forum…your enthusiasm is obvious.
Love the white snow on the black fur! Another element that makes this shot stand out from the crowd is the perspective: the eye is guided from an out-of-focus tail, along the spine and around to rest at the dogs eye. Problem is, this is not readily noticed….I only saw this after reading through the comments. I would crop to include more of that “swoop”. And since the dog’s eye is the subject, the fact that it is partially covered decreases the overall impact too.