Monday, December 10, 2007

Unhappy feet

Since December began we've had an unusual amount of snow. And, in these parts, snow means a heavy application of road salt.

This is actual text from our city's snow removal policy: Normally, the City does not plow streets unless the total accumulation of snow is three or more inches. Anything less is typically covered by salting operations.

And there is plenty of salt out there with no signs of going anywhere until heavy rains come spring.

Mark and I have a ritual of washing and drying eight paws after our dog walks that involve the city streets (which is early morning and before bed at least). It takes a while, and Diesel and Marvin comply, but it's not ideal.

I've noticed on cold but dry mornings the salt doesn't seem to bother them. However, the typical mornings we've had lately are wet and the roads are covered in a slushy, salty mess. This has a noticeable effect on their comfort. Diesel suddenly pulls a paw up to his body and hobbles along on three legs. When I stop to wipe his hurting paw with my gloved hand he gives me a look that says he wants to go home pronto. Marvin is less subtle. When he's uncomfortable he stops dead in his tracks, front paws forward and braced. He shoots me a look as though I've committed the ultimate betrayal and refuses to budge. I go to his side and, with a gentle tug, pick up the pace and he'll move forward again only to stop within a few feet. Eventually we make progress but it's not been a pleasant few mornings.

I thought yesterday I would remedy the situation by buying the least obtrusive dog boots I could find. I decided on Fido Fleece because they are soft and flexible (rather than the tough Cordura boots I tried with Diesel last winter) and they have a coated sole and toe so they should hold up for at least one winter season.

Last night I had the boys wear the boots around the house and their reaction was the typical freezing motionless followed by high stepping when lured by treats. We tried them outside and they did pretty well considering the newness. Marvin actually finished our brief walk with a normal gait while Diesel did some hopping along on three legs mixed with slow motion walking.

This morning was the moment of truth and it was a disaster. Marvin did "his business" and then braced himself for the long haul. I took him home and continued with Diesel. Diesel perfected a three-legged canter, favoring his right rear leg, just like he did with the Cordura boots last winter. Although he was amazingly fast, it wasn't natural, and I felt guilty.

I wish I had an answer. We have months of this ahead.


Blogger Opy - the Original GruffPuppy said...

Hi buddies,

Welcome to - it is great to meet you, and I am sure you will make lots of new friends here :-)


December 10, 2007 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Hey Guys,
Did you try cliping the fur between toe pads (to reduce the amount of snow that collects between toes) also they say that coating paws with cooking spray before walks can help protect paws and keep them from hurting.

December 16, 2007 at 4:59 PM  

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