Comfy? Yes. But can these booties survive Slinky?
September 30, 2005
When it comes to buying gear, my dog Slinky can be one tough customer. At age 6, she has the energy of a puppy, but doesn’t know it’s time to slow down a bit. She loves to accompany me mountain biking, backcountry skiing and backpacking, but she has very dry paw pads, which means they get cracked and bloody on longer jaunts.Slinky and I are on the hunt for the perfect footwear – dog booties that are comfortable, that don’t fall off or chafe in spite of mud puddles and mad dashes through underbrush. We need footwear that holds up to the demands of an extreme canine athlete.We thought we might have found that in Muttluks, a Canadian brand of dog booties sold at both Aspen pet shops: C.B. Paws and Rocky Mountain Pet Shop. Muttluks were named the top dog boot by “The Whole Dog Journal,” and some 860 sets were used by search-and-rescue dogs in the sharp, dangerous rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
With those kinds of credentials, Slinky and I put them to test, on a seven-mile bike ride encompassing roads, rocky trails and plenty of muddy puddles. The first thing I liked about them is that the stretchy cuff made them easy to slip on – and comfortable from the get-go. Muttluks offers a handy sizing chart on its website (www.muttlucks.com), and seven different sizes – and as with any human sports footwear, it’s crucial to get the right size.
Slinky instinctively hates footwear, but she only spent about five minutes doing the Ricky Ricardo dance before walking normally. When I started riding, she tore off in front of me, dashing back and forth, not at all bothered by the strange things on her feet. As she thundered up Smuggler, I had to resist the urge to shout, “Hi ho, Silver!”Made from treated, water- and salt-resistant leather, the boot bottoms held up fairly well, except for, inexplicably, the one that got a little torn up. Even in dog-ankle deep water, the boots stayed dry, thanks to the high cuffs and waterproof coated fabric (water, dirt and gravel in a dog bootie could lead to little cuts and sores). And not once did the booties come close to slipping off, something that’s frustrated many a hike in the past.But somehow, three of the four booties kept flipping around, so that the durable bottom switched with the softer top. Each time I cinched the Velcro straps tighter, and eventually only one was slipping (surprisingly, I never cut off Slinky’s circulation). Unfortunately, wearing the booties backward gave them a harsh pounding. The side stitching on one bootie completely blew out, and the stitching holding the leather top to the bootie fabric was compromised on all four.
In the end, Slinky’s paws were healthy and she didn’t appear to be sore at all – and that was the main goal. On our next outing, I’ll make sure the booties are as tight as they can be from the start; but if the stitching still doesn’t hold up, we could go through a set per week.Muttluks are available at C.B. Paws ($48), Rocky Mountain Pet Shop ($40-$48), and online at http://www.muttlucks.com.