I’m generally not one for having dogs wear clothing, probably because I’ve always had coated breeds who handled cold weather just fine. While I understood the need to put coats on Italian greyhounds and dobermans in the winter, I never saw the need for my own dogs to have a wardrobe beyond their everyday collars and their show collars.
Connor changed that. The winter of 2000-2001 was absolutely horrible. Not only did we get a lot of snow, we got a lot of cold, with air temps below zero for days on end and wicked bitter windchills. Connor did not want to go outside. After just a few minutes of running around to potty, his feet hurt. He did that pathetic “cold foot dance,” lifting first one paw then another. Several times I had to rescue him because he simply froze in one spot, unable (or unwilling) to walk back to the house.
So I got him a pair of dog boots.
You have to understand something about Connor. He loved to dress up. Seriously. He enjoyed wearing things. Anything. During his career, he wore all manner of bandannas, hats, a kilt and bonnet, a tuxedo and sunglasses into the obedience ring while doing the team class. Some dogs tolerated being dressed up. Connor genuinely liked it. He preened. He flounced. He never, ever tried to take anything off.
So I figured the boots would solve the cold foot problem. After some initial stiff legged marching and spastic paw flicking, they did.
When the temps dropped below zero for the rest of his life, I put Connor’s boots on him before he went outdoors. He trotted around happily and no longer suffered from the dreaded "cold foot." Once in a while one would fall off and have to be retrieved from a snow drift but they served admirably for the next 10 years. I still have them.
Flash forward to New Year’s Eve, 2012. I let the dogs out after supper. I let the dogs back in and watched in horror as they went frisking around the kitchen, leaving a trail of bloody paw prints in their wake.
There are several universal rules governing bleeding paws.
1) You will never get the baby gate shut before all dogs frisk their way off the kitchen vinyl onto the carpet in the next room.
2) Your spouse will unwittingly decide to call the dogs - from the other end of the house.
3) All dogs will become suddenly and mysteriously deaf to your commands to sit.
4) Should you grab a dog, it will not be the one who is bleeding.
5) The bleeding dog will be oblivious and could not care less.
By the time I got the Belgians corralled in the kitchen and inspected their paws, the floor looked like the Great Homestead New Year’s Eve Massacre had taken place. I won’t say there was blood spatter on the walls but it was close.
Phoenix had cut a pad on the jagged ice in the back yard. Not a big deal but definitely a bloody one. For the next few days, every time he went outside I vet-wrapped his paw so he didn’t tear it up any more. He was not a big fan of this. He hobbled around, carrying his bright blue paw up in the air. When he got outside, he forgot he was grievously injured and went running around like an idiot, which probably explains how he got hurt in the first place.
I finally decided to save on my vet wrap budget and just order a pair of boots for protecting any injured paws in the future.
Did you know there are entire websites devoted to dog boots? Amazing. I don’t remember there being that many sites when I got Connor’s boots but that was 15 years ago. Apparently dog fashion has taken off since then.
The boots have been ordered. When they get here, I’ll have both dogs practice wearing them, so when the next paw injury happens, the trauma won’t be increased by having a foreign object attached to their foot. I suspect Phoenix will be fine with it but Jamie is as much against wearing “things” as Connor was for it.
That’s okay. Jamie is also sensible enough not to go ripping around on the ice and getting hurt in the first place.