Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Well-adapted paws

Every winter, the girls grow thick, nubby calluses on their paw pads and long, coarse fur in between them.

It protects them against both cold and abrasion. Autumn and Linden and their family have the most perfect toe hairs for our conditions because they are coarse and thus don't collect snowballs, as some dogs do. SEM scans reveal that their winter toe hairs are just as smooth and coarse as the outer guard hairs of their coats. Since they are protected against cold, abrasion, and snowballs, my girls don't need booties. Dogs that have their kind of protection only need booties for harsh conditions, pulling heavy loads, or long distances.

The downside is that they can't walk so well on tile, so they don't come with me to work during the winter. Surprisingly, they walk fine on our hardwood floors at home, and on ice.

Here they are cleaning and sharpening their teef:

It amazes me how vicious they can be with those teef and still cuddle with me. In general, I see dogs differently now than I used to when I lived in an urban area. In the San Francisco Bay Area, dogs are generally urbanized, friendly, and relatively isolated, each one to his own family. Here, dogs are more common and wild, and while they are affectionate with their own families, when they are out roaming the neighborhoods unsupervised, other parts of their personalities show themselves.

It's a common saying that "there are no bad dogs, only bad owners," but I disagree. While a bad owner can mess up a good dog, a good owner can't turn a bad one good. And I do think there are bad ones. I've seen firsthand and heard reliable stories of dogs displaying all of the highest traits of humans: generosity, nobility, courage, loyalty, selflessness, affection, wisdom, and discretion. If we are to give dogs credit for those things, as I must, then we must also allow that dogs may also display our worst traits: malice, spite, cruelty, and willful destruction.

I'm fortunate to have such good-natured dogs! I do know that 'obedience' is not exactly their strength. Even coming when I call them is a crap shoot. But their natural kindness and affection make them good pets nevertheless, and those are traits that no amount of training can give a dog.

Also, also (since my blog is all about disparate topics crammed into one post), Boeing is utilizing this butt-ass cold weather to do cold-weather testing on its planes. Cool, eh? See what I did there? Cool!


Christy M said...

Puppy feet! Buddy gets his furry pads in the winter too. It's fun to play with, much to his dismay. ;)

DJC said...

How do you care for their coat? Do you have to brush them weekly?

Arvay said...

DJC, in summer months I brush them every day to pull out the voluminous winter coat, which comes out in gobs. In winter, I don't do anything. :)

b said...

I also noticed people in Fairbanks don't wash their dogs in the summer (I can understand not doing it in winter). So they are darned shtinky.

Arvay said...

Dogs? Stinky? Noooo...