The Booty Dilemma

By Ann Chiappetta

Yes, it’s that time of year again, so dust off those fleece lined boots and air out your winter coats, gloves and hats. Don’t forget the lip balm and sunglasses for chapped skin and snow glare.

While we’re on the subject of winter accoutrements for the two-footed species, being a dog owner and most importantly, a guide dog handler, I am reminded to make sure Bailey has his winter outerwear as well.

The type of doggie gear I am referring to is the dreaded booties. I don’t think any dog likes them, but rather, dogs tolerate them. Some dogs refuse to wear them. Bailey, thankfully, is putting up with them, preferring them to ice-crusted toes. We trained together in March in New York and it was still frigid, cold and wet during training. We had plenty of booty practice during class.
Brrr, sounds uncomfortable, right? So, then why do dogs dislike booties? Why, if they are above the grade in intelligence because they are guide dogs, can’t they at least embrace the booties?

This is what I say to Bailey when he assumes a defeated posture whenever I bring out the footwear and ask for a paw. If I were a dog and I had to slosh through icy water I think I’d want some protection, right?
First, the tail drops, then the head droops and the ears hang low, and finally, dejectedly, he allows me to pick up a foot and insert a paw into a booty.
If that isn’t bad enough, he assumes the duck walk, which is very humiliating for a dignified Labrador. I realized how much she disliked his booties by the mere fact that he will not take the proffered treat after a paw insertion. Thankfully, after ten minutes or so, the duck walk becomes a prance and the tail and head return to almost normal as we tromp outside into the cold, wet, salt sprinkled weather,
“It’s better than cold feet, right?”
I say as the wind whips past my collar and stings my face and cheeks. He shakes and I wish I could read his thoughts. My mothering instincts know that his big, dumbo ears are getting colder by the minute. I wonder if someone has considered inventing doggie ear muffs, and if I could get him to wear them.