SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dog Booties… again

Every season it seem we talk about dog booties.

So, here we go again:

Dog booties are critical.

They protect dogs' feet before any injuries can occur. That's key.

We use booties at various times and for various reasons. They are distance dependent -- we might booty all dogs for long runs. They are temperature dependent -- we might booty all dogs at temperatures below -20 degrees F. They are dog specific -- we might booty individual dogs all the time.

Scout (above) thinks that you shouldn't talk badly about his booties!

Here is a little BOOTY RANT by Aliy:

All in all, booties are a pain in the tush. They require a musher to assume the 'standard musher position' (bent over at the hip with my head down by my knees) for extended periods of time both putting on booties and taking off booties. They require ungloved hands in order to get that velcro strap just tight enough to not slip down a dog's foot. Therefore, booties, notoriously, create cold hands. Really cold at -30 degrees F! After each use, booties have to be dried out. What do you think our garage smells like? And mind you… there might be a little bit of dog poo on the drying canine footwear. That's not all. Then, booties have to be sorted after they dry: trash booties with holes and reuse booties with out holes. You are not done yet. Now booties have to be sized. WHAT?!? Not every dog wear's the same size booty? Nope. Have you looked at Mismo lately? Now take a look at Lydia. Yup. Different booties for different dogs. Our system of dog booties have different velcro colors that differentiates sizes. Last step. Each dog has four feet. Huh? Now take four (dried, sorted, sized) booties and link them together with the velcro into sets of 4's. Now… go back to your dog team and get after it!
You gotta LOVE booties!

2015 Yukon Quest
-37 F start: How do those fingers feel, Aliy?; Mile 900: How does that back feel, Allen?


Ready-to-train dog booties.

The Booty Fairy was at SP Kennel this weekend and decorated the garage with a Christmas booty theme. Let's just say that it doesn't quite smell like Gingerbread around here!

The Christmas Booty Fairy was a SP Kennel yesterday!

At various times throughout the season we have had Booty Fairies drift through SP Kennel, pick up a sack of "to be sorted" and bring back a sack of "ready to train".
Thank you to everyone of you Fairies! (And please… come on back… we've got more!)

18 comments:

Ruth said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading the article well done Aliy! Informative and humorous at the same time - good combination.

A-town's Becky said...

CUTE!
Thank you booty fairy!

Anonymous said...

Bootie Duty was never as exciting as I thought it would be

Wes

Anonymous said...

Love your model. I'm sure Scout is saying "thank you" for all your bootie efforts that keep his feet comfortable and ready for racing.
Good job all.

Ann and Tom

Anonymous said...


I know Chena is very grateful for her lovely, we are guessing here, ORANGE booties.

She is very proud of her booties and tries to keep them clean if not dry. And she really admires Wes and Wendy.

Thought you should know,

Best,

Margaret

Dawn E said...

Booties! Love booties. My dog won't have anything to do with them.

patricia lewis said...

Do you shave the fur between their pads? Some mushers do, but I've not heard you mention it.

Barb, CO said...

Loved this post! I bought booties to give as Christmas presents while at the Iditarod this year. Now I have a wonderful little note to put on them. I love how you take care of your dogs and all of us.

Aliy Zirkle said...

Most of our dogs don't have lots of hair between their toes. I think longer coated dogs like Malemutes and maybe some Siberian lines have more furry toes. The thing we keep an eye on most of the time is their toenail length -- which come to think of it, I'm supposed to be outside cutting toenails right now! We try to keep their nails medium length. So that they might have traction on ice but they aren't pointy and sharp. We also look between their toes on a regular basis to see if they have dry skin or minor abrasions. Dogs, like humans, have particular gaits and some dogs press more on their hind toes or right side or left - so the wear on their feet (and booties) shows up.
The "Join the Red Team" members who got booties with their Team Certificate also got one used booty from Iditarod last year. These boots showed a great deal of wear and some even had holes and a worn "foot print".
Okay… off to cut toe nails. My back hurts thinking about it!

Nessmuk said...

I believe Lance Mackey described Zorro's feet as "perfect".....I wonder if Chica, Nacho and Quito inherited Zorro's feet...if so there are a lot of "perfect feet" at SPK! Bootie up pups! Im sure each one of us here at the Dog Log would love to be SPK "Bootie Fairies" if we just lived closer! Jeezum Crow my back hurts just thinking of how many times you all have to "assume the position" in the name of canine foot care! Thanks for the awesome post and great insight!

patricia lewis said...

Aliy, so appreciate the reply. We "eat up" everything you share! Every aspect of kennel life, no matter how mundane, is interesting to me. Hope all went well with nail cutting today.

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

Having done my share of hoof pick duty, pulling worn shoes and trimming hooves in my day I can sure 'feel' for those tired backs. At least I was not working in sub-zero. But thanks Aliy for the humor that you bring even to some unfunny things. That wonderful smile of yours comes from the heart as I know and reflects your positive take on almost everything. I admire and envy that!! I am even thankful for the idea of booties because down in the lower 48 we can use them to help an aging dog that slips on slick floors or to protect paws from cactus, sharp rocks and hot cement or pavement. It is great how much mushers and their care and learning about dogs has helped all the canines in the world!

Hannah Keefe said...

Hey Ali,
Great post. Booties are such a pain but very mandatory. Thank goodness on the team I've run using one size was able to slide. I secretly enjoy putting on booties though, gives that extra minute close to my dogs before the race and give them a pep talk along with some quiet after a race to tell them how good they did. Do you enjoy those extra few minutes with your dogs when your back's not hurting at least?
-Hannah Keefe

Brianna said...

These booties are adorable!! I have to get them for my husky before the cold weather starts to come in!
Thank you for the post

Cindy Schaus said...

Very informative. Interesting that the dogs have pressure points on the booties that wear out just like my workout shoes show wear in certain places. And I never really thought of individual dogs needing different sizes. You all have a big job. Thank you for keeping your fans informed. I'm in Colorado on vacation watching it snow and hoping to get to go on a dog sledding tour. One kennel cancelled due to lack of early season snow and I'm waiting to hopefully fill a cancellation spot from another kennel. I am so hoping to get to interact with some sled dogs this week, I also wish I was closer to SPKennel so I could be a bootie fairy too!

marilyn cozzens said...

The booty fairies strike again, and hurry back you hear! You should set up a regular schedule for the booty fairies. Love the Christmas decoration theme. Maybe Santa could bring some cans of gingerbread spray for the garage. Thanks for such an informative post. Scout is very styling in his booties. How long does it take to cut all the nails?

Anonymous said...

Not only do individual dogs need different size booties, but front feet are larger than rear feet. I use two bootie sizes for each dog to fit both front and rear.
Janet

Anonymous said...

Hey what a great nickname. its certainly better than other names I have been called.
Thanks Aliy!
Anonymous from Fairbanks