>> Thursday, October 15, 2009
Spouse and I are on a constant quest for great hiking and outdoors gear, and spend far too much of our incomes on it. We've been on a major boots quest lately. The results for the humans have been utterly unsatisfactory, but I think we have finally had ONE boot success story - for the dog.
Allow me to properly introduce said dog. This is a Lucy:
Isn't she cute? She's also awful. Basset Hounds are notoriously stubborn, we have been too lax on the training, and she and her scheming brother Simon get away with way more than they should. Honestly, though, with a face like that, could YOU hold a grudge?
Not only does she have winning, limpid-pools-of-brown-you-aren't-really-mad-at-me sorts of eyes, but Lucy is a special needs dog. (Ha. I'll say. She's special in more ways than one. For pity's sake, she eats her own poo!)
Her real disability, though, is that Lucy has a stump.
Spot it? No? Allow me to zoom in.
That, my friends, is not a foot. It's a stump. Hence her nicknames of "Stumpy" (to which I am embarrassed to admit she actually answers) and "Nubbins". Lucy's whole leg is deformed from birth, and she has no toes, no ankle, and the main bone from elbow to foot is oddly curved. She's got the sharpest elbow I've ever had the misfortune to be jabbed in the ribs by.
Luckily, Lucy has absolutely no idea there is anything wrong with her, and she's far more agile and athletic than her stockier brother. However, without an ankle the stump doesn't flex, so she perpetually scrapes that nub along the ground. It creates fascinating tracks that could keep wildlife experts guessing. But it presents a major problem for a hyperactive outdoorsy dog like Lucy.
In the year and a half that we've had her, we have gone through miles of athletic tape and gauze, and have purchased every major brand of dog boot there is in an attempt to keep those poor non-toes from getting raw and bloody on frolics. I don't want to contemplate the total cost.
The results have been mixed, but overall none-too-good. Some have given her blisters on her poor little non-ankle. Some won't stay on. Some she has become an incredible expert at removing herself. Some Simon has become an incredible expert at removing for her. Some have crushed the only toe she's got, which is a weird crooked little half toe with a creepy gnarled little toenail. Others have worked fairly well but get worn through in one hike, and if you've ever bought dog shoes you know that's an expensive proposition.
We recently managed to make a tolerable boot out of a too-large boot we had for our old, considerably larger dog, which we spent hours cutting down and adding grommets and laces to. However, not only did it give her the smelliest, cheesiest non-foot imaginable, but none of our experimental boots have given her any traction. That means she takes occasional headers, which I feel awful about. Mind you, even with traction she'll still bite it once in a while as she and Simon both quite literally trip over their own ears on occasion. Now there's a design flaw for you.
However, I think we have finally found THE Lucy boot:
It's even got a Vibram sole on it. A package of four of these suckers cost $59.95 at EMS, which left me staring at the salesman, blinking and open-mouthed. (sound effect: crickets chirping)
But after all our other failed attempts, and a few moments to adjust to that price tag, we felt we owed it to poor Stumpy to try to give her a pain-free hike with traction. Lo and behold, it worked! It stayed on all the way to the top of two high peaks and didn't seem to bother her at all. See photos here.
And afterward, it looks like this:
Ew. Allow me to assure you it smells worse than it looks. But this sucker hasn't a worn spot on it, and it's going to get a bath. I'm hoping that, for that price, a set of four will last a while.
Thank you, Ruffwear for making a real dog shoe.