I got Gwynn in the fall, at 6 months. My neighbour, longtime dog owner, asked me if I would be getting Gwynn some boots for the winter.
I scoffed. I proudly informed her that I would never dress my dog up in silly and unnecessary people-clothes. He’s a dog. I’m letting his hair grow long to keep him warm in the winter, and mid-October he was already deep into his transformation to wooly mammoth. Wooly mammoths don’t need boots or hats or coats or vests.
You know what else wooly mammoths are? 55 lbs of dog whose feet are being burnt and cut by the massive amount of road salt my neighbourhood is coated with in winter. 55lbs of dog is A LOT to carry home, having made it 4 blocks before he refused to budge. And in winter, my hands were unimpressed at their new use as de-icer of dog-paws.
I also discovered that the fur between his toes, no matter how I trimmed it, still collected clumps of snow until his toes were splayed painfully and a wad of ice was applying pressure to his palm. Yet another painfully-cold hand-melting of puppy paws on the side of the road.
I ate my words.
The boots I bought him that first year were useless. Within days of first purchase, the straps were fraying. If I’d left them as they were headed, the boots would have been strapless by the end of the month. Velcro, by the way, does NOT hold up to being covered in snow. Nor does it work to re-velcro once there’s snow in the tines. The leather sole to the boot also started coming unwound within a few uses – yet another sewing project for me. The damn things didn’t stay on at all well, either – they flew off no matter how well I’d snugged them on his feet.
Uninformed about other types of boots (unwilling to just refund/exchange the damaged boots every few weeks), I stuck with them, adding snaps, sewing repairs and turning them into frankenboots that still… really didn’t stay on adequately. We ended up using hockey tape at the ankle every time we went out skiing. We still played the 1-2-3-4 game, and I carried spare hockey tape in my pocket.
Last year, I contacted RuffWear and asked if they’d be interested in a review of their Polar Trex boot. It looked like it already had a lot of the things I’d added to the frankenboots, without any handiwork on my part. I’d read some good reviews of their other projects by You did What with your Weiner, so I had hopes that this product might also be good. They were nice enough to send me a set.
It was fate – that (and my own purchase of new Sorels) would explain why Toronto’s winter last year consisted of a low of just about freezing, no snow, no de-icing salts and a whole heck of a lot of rain.
This year, however, do I got a tale to tell! We had snow for a little while, we’ve had some bloody cold temperatures, and my neighbours are putting salt down like it holds the key to spring arriving on time.
Gwynn and I have finally had a chance to give these boots a thorough workout, and I’m ready to give you all my honest opinion of them. I’ll be posting that this week, so stay tuned!