After Peat’s pad debacle, and the post that generated more comments than any other post on this blog, along with a boatload of very helpful recommendations and suggestions, I’m writing to report on a successful first try of one of the recommended products (thanks, Jeff): 1000 Cordura booties from dogbooties.com.
At only $3 each (yes, they’re sold individually), we thought we’d give them a shot. We bought four size small blaze orange booties with the Velstretch fastener. Dogbooties is in Anchorage, Alaska, and makes thousands of these things for sled dogs, so the booties are effective in snow and ice. Shipping for two pairs cost about $8, and they came Priority Mail in three or four days. (We just ordered 4 more X-Small since these had a wee bit too much breathing room; hopefully they’ll fit better.)
Yesterday we went on a short hunt (2 hours, 3.5 miles). The terrain was moderately abrasive, and Peat ran 10.5 miles. I was able to “install” the booties on both his rear feet (even though only his right foot had the messed up pad; we were advised by Jeff and our vet to go bilateral, which makes sense) in about two or three minutes before letting him out of the truck, including adding a couple wraps of duct tape over the Velstretch fastener. He hopped out of the truck and comically tried to propel himself exclusively with his front legs for about 30 seconds, before apparently saying, “Screw it, I need those rear wheels!” In less than two minutes, he was sprinting around like his normal bat-out-of-hell self whenever beginning a hunt.
The rest of the hunt I monitored the booties, which were easy to see since they’re blaze orange, somewhat worried they’d come undone. They never did, and he never slowed down. I’d have to say he didn’t let them impede him in any way. It was actually sort of funny since I could hear him coming with the fwapping of his booties, so I could tell which dog was coming up on me from behind just from the sound.
Another thing I worried about a little bit was whether the foreign objects on his hind feet would mess with his mind, which must play a part in his prey drive and pointing instincts. He pointed coveys, and backed Angus’s points, like normal.
After the hunt, I removed the booties (which only took a second, even with the duct tape, which I’d “tabbed” by folding a diagonal at the end so I could easily grab it to remove afterward). I kind of expected them to be thrashed. There was a little wear on them, but I’d say we could get another three to four hunts out of them, as long as they don’t come off. See the photo above to judge for yourself.
So, after just one outing, I’ll go out on a limb and say these things are worth a shot if your dog is suffering from abraded and abused pads. We mobilized to make the DIY motorcycle tube booties (cool videos; thanks for several commenters for references to this!), and actually bought all the stuff for it but managed to get a motorcycle tube that was too small for Peat’s tiny rear feet (I got a 2.25″ tube, but couldn’t get it over his foot). I’m going to pass on going back to this idea since the snow should start falling, and (thanks again, Jeff) the rubber bootie option in the snow doesn’t seem like the best solution given the potential for slippage.
Peat’s pad healing is still a work in progress. We took him to the vet earlier this week, and he put some antibiotic ointment on it and wrapped it, saying Peat would be able to hunt by the weekend with some kind of booty. So we kept it wrapped for a few days and kept it moist. Yesterday, some Pad Kote (thanks, Ron) came in the mail, and I applied it last night while Peat was sleeping. I couldn’t believe he didn’t wake up because the turpentine/smoky smell was overpowering. I put the dogbootie on it to keep the purple die from staining everything it touched. He pulled the booty off in the middle of the night, but by that time his pad was dry. Today, it’s still the color purple (apologies to Alice Walker), and it’s got a sheen to it like a kind of coating. I’m not sure I’ll continue putting this stuff on his cracked pad since it makes more sense to me to keep it moist instead of drying it out, but that could change. Anyway, I’m glad we seem to have found a sort-of solution, for now. He’s not limping, he’s getting exercise, and all is well-ish.