Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dog Boots. Need them or not? Which brand?

It's a problem.  And, it's a problem bird hunters have groped with for years.  I have played with dog boots for well over 20 years, now.  Tried them all, from Scott's to Lewis.  Bass Pro to Orvis to duct tape.

Are boots important?  Heck, you may think, Buster looks like he's running fine.  I'll just check his feet when we finish for the day.  By then, however, Buster's feet will be past redemption.  He'll have given you all he had, endured the pain and done the job.  But, his feet will be shot for the next 3 or 4 days.  There you sit, down to one dog, or even no dog.  Yes, they are important!

Lewis Brand Vented Rubber Dog Boots -- Set of 4
Lewis Dog Boots

The Mac Daddy of dog boots, manufactured in OK, is the Lewis Boot- nuclear protection for your dog.  Rubber with vent holes, about $38/set of 4.  The downside, for me, is they are heavy,  and they trap sand in the boot to wear on the dog's feet.
Red Bark'n Boots Grip Trex Dog Boots by Ruff Wear -- Set of 4
Bark'n Boots, Grip Trex

 Another type of boot is a combination of Velcro, rubber bottoms and fabric top.  I've used these, as well. They worked well in the protection department, but I lost more than a few.  I tried the models that have a sock that extends up the dog's leg to deflect sand and they seemed to work OK.  I have dogs that run hard, all day, and these boots seemed to come off a lot. (Yep. I know how to tape them.) Couple that with the price of $70/set of 4, and I'm beginning to re-think the wisdom of these. 

There are innumerable combinations of these two styles sold everywhere.  The fact is you need them, or something like them to protect your dog's feet.  Few places I hunt, do I not use boots- Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Northwoods, North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho (most places) and parts of Kansas seem to be "boot free".  Anywhere there is sand, sage and copious amounts of quail, there is usually sand spurs, cactus and sharp rock. Also, sometimes hunting Chukar in the rocks requires boots for the dog. 

This year, I'm going to try a method I heard about 20 years ago and discarded outright.  Now, I'm thinking I may have been too hasty in my assessment.  (If I was, I apologize!)  The technique uses a motorcycle tire (yup!) cut to length.  I guess I won't do it justice jin my description, so here's the YouTube video.  I hope this is helpful to those of you Traveling Wingshooters out there!

How to Boot a Dog