Letters from Readers: January 2017
Prison Dog Training
Thank you for your article on prison dog training programs (“Prison Dog Training Programs,” May 2016). I love the concept of rehabilitating dogs and people simultaneously. I was a bit surprised and disappointed that the article did not include any information as to where or how someone could adopt a dog from one of these programs, though. Your readers seem like great candidates for doing so and the programs themselves mentioned the difficulty of placing dogs as quickly as they would like.
We’re sorry for not being more explicit about that! The shelters that provide the dogs to the programs mentioned in the article run their own adoption programs for placing the dogs who “graduated” from the prison courses. Many of the dogs end up getting adopted by prison staffers, as well as other correctional system employees and court officials!
That said, there are always more dogs than potential adopters within the prison system, so thanks for asking for more information. We mentioned this, but didn’t offer the links; sorry!
The dogs from the programs in Virginia are made available through Fetch A Cure. The dogs who graduate from the RESCUED program in Georgia are available through the shelters who provide them to the program: Castoff Pet Rescue and the Humane Society Mountain Shelter, both located in Blairsville, Georgia.
The Best Winter Boots for Dogs
I read “The 4 Best Winter Dog Boots Out There” (November 2016) with great interest, as I used to work at a dog boutique in central Michigan. We sold a lot of boots! A tip to see if the boots were on securely; tug on the toe of the boot. If it slips off, it’s not secure.
One of the things we did to get a dog used to boots was get them outdoors with the boots on as soon as possible – and I don’t mean in the backyard! We found that dogs then focused on their surroundings instead of their feet. We told people to bring their dogs in, put on the boots, and go! If you order online, don’t just walk around indoors at home thinking your dog will get used to them that way. Get out!
Also, you are right, you can’t beat Ultra Paws for a good inexpensive boot. A final note: You didn’t mention one of our favorites, Muttluks!
Just wondering why the Muttluks brand dog boots weren’t included; they have really worked great for me. They have winter snow mushers and summer mud mushers as well as leather-soled boots.
We chose our candidates for the review based on recommendations from people who work their dogs in harsh winter conditions as a profession – or very serious, nearly full-time hobby. Muttluks were not mentioned in this context, but based on your feedback, we will certainly include them in our next review!
I was curious about your bootie review, as my dog sustained a complete digital laceration through all the tendons and ligament on her front outside toe. In order to reduce sesamoidal damage of the toe overflexing upward on rough terrain, my vet recommended a bootie that would be stiff enough underneath to keep the toe from bending upward.
I cross-country ski a lot with my Airedale/shepherd-mix. On the cold days when snow seems to stick in her paws, I have found sled dog booties to be the best. Mine are fluorescent color (hard to lose), have stretchy Velcro, and allow the pads to move freely in the bootie, eliminating chafing and costing only a couple of bucks per bootie – fantastic to keep in your doggie first-aid kit for paw injuries, too. These would not be good for day-in day-out pavement walking or protection from road salt but for snowy adventures and as injured paw protectors, they rule, at least in my mind.
Now WE'RE curious! Martine, what boots are you referring to?
Late-Night Off-Leash Walking?
I am a huge fan but am a bit concerned about the editor’s note, “Protect Your Dog with Pumpkin and Peroxide,” (November 2016). I realize it’s important to give our dogs free play/run times in controlled, legal, off-leash environments, but is it really wise to advocate walking our dogs off-leash on a quiet suburban neighborhood street at 11 p.m.? I am sure there must be or should be a leash law in the city if there are resident houses in the surrounding area. I would not have appreciated running into people with two dogs off leash at 11 p.m., no matter how well-behaved.
Sandra Page Mitchell
For what it’s worth, I was for sure NOT “advocating” walking dogs off-leash in a suburban neighborhood, even late at night and two doors down from our friends’ home; if anything, the skunk story might have demonstrated how stupid it was! But you’re right! The fact that Cole was able to dart under a bush after a skunk proves he wasn’t under control. This could have been a factor had we crossed paths with other late-night dog walkers – which I happen to know is when the owners of many dog-reactive dogs choose to walk precisely to avoid other dogs!
Teaching a Dog Autonomy
Regarding “Training a Dog to Make Choices” (November 2016): That was a great article and an important one, too. I run a dog school in Arizona and we provide creative-thinking activities to our students several times a day. When dogs are rewarded for making choices, it builds confidence, helps with problem-solving, focus, and impulse control. I love the “Bucket Game” and will be incorporating that into our syllabus immediately!