Winter reminders for dog owners

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter is certainly upon us, and unfortunately there is plenty of evidence on the local trails that Juneau's dog owners have been taking full advantage of winter time activities with their pets... so it seems an appropriate time to remind people that, even in the cold and dark of winter, our canine companions need our assistance in cleaning up after themselves.

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If you walk your dog before the light of day or after dark in the afternoon, it may be tempting to look the other way when he does his "business" - after all, no one can see you! But remember, that tell-tale pile will be there when the sun rises for everyone to see, and all dog owners end up getting blamed for the actions of a few. We dog walkers need to work together to ensure that we are welcomed users of our local trails and parks. Remember to stick a bag or two in your pocket along with your gloves whenever you leave the house with Fido! If you see someone neglecting to pick up after their dog, kindly offer them a bag. And if you see evidence that a less responsible dog owner than you has been out before you, please pick up for them - for all of us. This applies to our neighborhood streets and sidewalks, as well as recreation areas.

Like to ski with your dog? Remember that, like the folks who jog with their dogs in the summer, exercising and moving fast is no excuse for not picking up. It's not fun to run your ski through ... well, you get the idea. Allow your dog to relieve itself before starting your ski, or watch him carefully when you start out - most dogs will do their duty quickly so they can keep up with you on the trail. Yes, it means you might have to stop briefly, but consider it a necessary part of recreating with your canine companion. The rest of us (including the non-dog owning public with whom you share the trail) will appreciate it.

A few other winter reminders: Remember that extremely cold temperatures are hard on dogs. They may need booties so their feet don't get cold in the snow, or even a sweater or coat if they are short coated. Dark days mean drivers will appreciate a flashing light attached to your dogs' collar or leash so he is easier to spot when you are walking him; get one for yourself too! If your dog spends much time outside, he will need a sturdy shelter, some extra food, and plenty of water. Check his water frequently to make sure it's not frozen. All of the above mentioned items can be purchased at local pet stores or on line.

Take good care of your best friend. He'll thank you for it many times over!

• Sue McGregor is a member of Grateful Dogs of Juneau.

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