Thursday, December 08, 2016

Ruby's New Shoes and Cik Cap Training

It's that time of year, snow plus single digits equals sore dog feet.  Obviously Ruby doesn't fit in the big dogs' hand me downs so I had to take her shoe shopping.  It's been about 10 years or so since I bought dog booties and while Ruff Wear still exists they no longer make the booties that worked so well for Strummer and Cody.  All the styles I found online had a hard, vibram type sole that I think is a bad idea for dog feet since they can't move and flex their feet normally.  Sort of like minimalist shoes vs big Hoka type mega cushioned/stability shoes for humans.  So I headed over to P.C.'s Pantry, one of Boulder's locally owned high quality dog and cat supply stores.  P.C.'s is great for getting good stuffs for dogs but it can be quite the 'scene' in there with crazy Boulderites and their dogs.  I didn't get there early enough so the place was hopping with crazy dog people and their dogs.  Poor Ruby, she's such a good sport but she did not want to try on shoes and especially did not appreciate the zillions of 'friendly' dogs trying to get in her face while she was getting stupid shoes shoved on her feet.  I did my best to shield her and give her space and I did end up clocking a 7 month old Bernese Mountain Dog in his thick skull with my my elbow to keep him away.  Actually I lifted my elbow to keep him from charging at her and he ran into me and he smacked his thick skull into my elbow.  The owner mumbled an apology and moved on.  The nice ladies behind the counter gave Ruby plenty of snugs and delicious doggie cookies from the bakery while we waited to be rung up so it wasn't a total horror show experience for her.  Pretty sure I came out of the place with a few new grey hairs though.

We've tested her new booties twice so far, once was a dry run on a short old dog walk on a cold morning with no snow and only the front booties on.  Then we went out yesterday in the 6" of new snow and 11 degrees cold with all booties on.  She was not happy about any of it but I needed to get some poop out of her since she seemed unwilling to go in the backyard and I figured if I took her for a short walk she'd oblige.

The booties?  A brand called Ultra Paws and so far they get the thumbs up.  We were only out for about 10-15 minutes and only 1 block was in the deep snow, everywhere else was plowed so I don't have a lot of experience with them.  But they stayed on and kept the snow out for a short, utilitarian type walk.  Actually it was more of a run because Ruby was so cold and she pulled mightily so I ran, clomping behind her in my big old school Sorels.  Funny, I bought my Sorels in the 90's at a heavy clearance discount from the army navy store in Boulder when they were falling out of fashion and now they're all the rage again and cost 3x what I paid.

Rockin' it Old School

Ruby's New Shoes

They have a unique feature that I've never seen in dog boots and it's 2 pieces of foam at the top.  The foam serves the dual purpose of keeping the booties on and keeping the snow out as you can see from the photos.  This design also allows the top part of the bootie to be split so that you don't have to force the paw into the bootie through a lot of material so they're much easier to get on and off than other booties I've had.  I particularly dislike booties with elastic cuffs at the top even though the cuff helps keep the snow out because they're so hard to get on.

Ruby's feet were dry though this design does hold the snow/iceball next to her leg.  Her feet were cold to the touch but not as cold as other days when I've had her out with no booties in milder weather.

As long as I'm yammering on about dog shoes I'll also give a shout out to Pawz rubber booties.  I've been using these for Lola because she has that old dog neurological disease where she flips her feet over and can't feel them to flip them back.  Her feet were getting cut and bloody and dirty on walks as she'd scuff her feet against the pavement.  For a few months I wrapped her feet in vet wrap but this got spendy and was a pain to do each time we went out.  Also it didn't always work and often the tape would come off.  These booties work great and would also be great for those days when the ground is covered with salt and de-icer.  Not sure if they would keep paws warm enough on bitter cold days but for basic protection they're pretty handy and easy to get on and off.  They're also pretty durable for disposable booties, Lola's still on her first pair and we've been using them twice a day for about a month now.

On a completely unrelated note I was inspired to shoot some video yesterday of Ruby's Cik Cap training.  For those unfamiliar with Silvia Trkman's techniques, cik means a tight wrap around the jump to the left, cap means a tight wrap to the right.  I've been practicing both shaping and luring this with Ruby around a small cone (we started off luring because this was a rehab exercise for her and no way she was going to offer the behavior and I needed her to do it right away).  This is her first session with my brand new fancy pants jump wing.

I'm pleased with her enthusiasm and the fact that she never stalled out and sat down.  But my reward placement is crappy.  It was hard to maneuver around that big jump wing.  Something to work on.

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