Boston for grownups. BostonZest is your guide for enjoying a full-flavored life in an unbeatable city. We'll show you that there is life in Boston beyond the "club kids" and students.
Whether you live in Boston, plan to visit Boston, or you are moving to Boston; we'll help you locate great food, fun events, and reliable resources.
It was such a pleasure to see Winston and his mounted Park Ranger adding a highly visible degree of protection to our parks.
Watching this pair interact with park visitors proved what great ambassadors the mounted patrol and their most attractive horses are for our parks. Each year The Friends of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit have to raise enough money to keep this program going.
For those of us with dogs, our daily routine includes a number of short walks to take care of their needs. Somewhere in that schedule is a longer walk to give you and your dog some exercise and perhaps a bit of fun. On weekends or vacations, these walks may turn into adventures in new settings with great things to see, hear, and for your dog to sniff!
Two-year-old Sam loves his early morning walk. He practiced hissitwhen Penny met him. His person said this daily routine gets her going too!
One friend calls this “the long walk.” We call it "Poppy’s exercise" because she will gladly go inside on her puppy pads to avoid being outside. But she does need to move her little body and get her pulse rate up at least once a day, so we take her for a mile or two trot around the neighborhood.
It makes you think about the interactions you see as people walk their dogs. Is the dog having fun? Are the dog and human interacting or are they on separate missions? Who is training whom?
One of Poppy's favorite snow day activities is to run in the snow with Ed. Look at that waggin' tail to see how much she enjoys this.
Be A Dog!
One command you should regularly give your pal on the other end of the leash is, “Be a Dog!” To us that means Poppy can follow her nose, sniff at the corners, or hop up on a bench and relax. She gets a turn to do what she wants on the walk.
Other times we may need some faster-paced exercise and she will have to walk along with us to allow us to get what we need from the walk.
It's a matter of give and take. Sometimes Sam gets a longer walk. Sometimes Poppy gets to play in the snow. Sometimes Sam's person wants to get home sooner. Sometimes we want to walk faster. Everyone should get a turn now and them.
As we walk along, we have a system to be sure she hasn't thrown a shoe. Salt is the reason she is wearing boots, so each time we cross a salty intersection, we do a mental boot count.
Once you get started on this habit, it becomes almost automatic. Road = Salt = Boot Check! Then if we count three boots instead of four, we only have to backtrack one block to look for the missing paw cover.
Does your dog hit his “four-paw-braking” button when you open the door to a rainstorm? Or do you have one of those canines who doesn’t mind being wet? So far, our Poppy doesn't seem to mind a rainy day. But, with some rain in the forecast, this is a good time to discuss rainy day dogs.
A dog's attitude to rain is a case where breed, age, and size may make a difference. A tiny, short-haired dog may be cold and miserable in the rain, while a hardy water dog may love a dripping wet walk.
What’s the Problem?
Mary Fuller, DVM, writing about this topic for www.vetstreet.com, points out that for some dogs rain brings on their fear of thunderstorms, “It’s not always clear what brings on the fearful behavior. It may be changes in barometric pressure, static electricity, the crack of lightning bolts or just the sound of wind and rain.”
Dr. Fuller warns that you should never punish your dog for this fear or force her into the rain, but rather use rewards like exuberant praise or treats to coax him outside. She adds that you should see your veterinarian if this behavior is becoming a real problem. A vet may be able to help with guidance or medications.
Poppy figures a good shake solves her rainy day issues.
Our last Westie Maggie Mae did not mind light rain but hated downpours. Try to see if this is the case with your dog and, when possible, watch local radar and pick a break in the storm to go out.
You could also bring along a favorite squeaky toy and a high-value treat. We suggest that the treat be something special that the dog only gets for rainy walks. This is the time for smelly treats that your dog loves. Try a piece of dried cod skin or a stinky cheese that will set your pup drooling.
Finally, try to hide your own distaste for a rainy walk because those feelings may be traveling down the leash to your dog.
Poppy, our Westie, puts on a little weight every winter. Ed, who weighs her regularly and keeps a log, has noticed this seasonal increase for the past three years.
Besides snow walking, Poppy loves “snow hopping” (her favorite sport). Both give her a good workout and help control winter weight for all of us!
This winter, because she’s had more exercise than in past years, we’re scratching our heads to figure it out. We weigh her food and monitor her treats so we’d know if she were eating more. She’s not. Is there something in a dog’s nature that hangs on to calories in winter? Does her metabolism slow down?
The Thrifty Gene
After some research, we learned the answer to those questions is,”Yes!” Ken Tudor, DVM, on the Pet MD website wrote, “Shorter days signal to the dog brain that winter is coming. This sets off hormonal changes to slow metabolism and conserve calorie expenditure.” He says, “These changes also promote the deposition of fat. This phenomenon is a result of a genetic adaptation called the ‘thrifty gene.’ The thrifty gene prepares the dog for the harsh winter and allows for normal performance in harsh conditions.”
We have to offset the thrifty gene with more attention to the “food in/exercise out” balance. Just as it is with humans, dogs have to eat less or exercise more to keep from gaining weight.
We're taking the weekend off, so here is our weekly Sunday Dog feature on Thursday! One way to protect your dog's paws is a good pair of dog boots. We use Pawz for Poppy.
While footwear certainly can help shield those paws from salted walkways, there are other alternatives. It looks like the dog in this photo has boots in this style.
Sometimes we forget that the city has dumped an unreasonable amount of salt on the streets that will sit there for months. Then we have to take other measures to ensure that Poppy does not have sore feet or get sick from the salt.
A Good Rinse
For any barefoot walker, rinsing salt off paws when you reach home is a good habit. Jake Tedaldi, DVM, author of “What’s Wrong with My Dog?” and founder of Vetcall.com, recommends rinsing, “... because the various forms of ice-melting salt can be quite irritating to dogs’ paws, causing them to lick and/or chew those paws to relieve the irritation.”
He went on to explain when that irritation may be a more serious matter, “Excessive licking/chewing of the paws, pads or toes, or swelling, redness or bleeding from any part of the paws would be good reason to seek a veterinarian’s advice.”
Not only will your dog’s feet stay healthier, but your home will also stay cleaner. You’ll be amazed at how much salt and sand you’ll find hiding in those furry feet.
Wax Those Paws
Waxes, like Musher’s Secret, are a popular alternative to foot coverings. The company calls their product, “the invisible boot.” Dr. Jake says, “Musher’s Secret is quite safe to put on your dogs’ pads. It is designed to serve as a barrier to protect dogs’ paws from harsh materials, including road salt and other chemicals that might be either abrasive to or absorbed by dogs’ paws.”
One More Step
Ask your building management, condo association, and neighbors to use sand in place of chemicals or to choose paw-safe chemicals if they are going to use ice melt. Explain that harsh chemicals not only hurt dogs, but will also damage sidewalks, fences, plants, and trees.
Ice melts can also make your dog sick. “Salt and other ice-melting chemicals can be harsh on a dog’s stomach and entire digestive tract," said Dr. Jake. "Inappetence [loss of appetite], vomiting, regurgitation, diarrhea, or simply overall weakness, and lethargy could be symptoms brought on by ingestion of such substances.”
With more nasty weather ahead, make your paw protection plan and prep your pup for a healthy rest-of-the-winter.
Note on Comments: We monitor comments constantly and anything that is pure spam, inappropriate, or nasty is swept away. In addition to readers' comments, we welcome hearing from the people, places, and services we cover. Often, those add great insights for our readers. As long as it doesn’t become a pure ad, we’d love to hear from you. We do reserve the right to edit ads and links out of comments.