Get involved with your dog!

If you can imagine I’m out all day walking dogs in all weather so often when I get home if I don’t hurry up and get myself right back out to walk and exercise my own dogs there are some days it just doesn’t happen, especially in the winter.  Once I’m indoors, the layers are off and I start the ‘thaw out’ it is SO hard to go back out into the elements!  Don’t worry, my dogs are certainly not neglected in any sense!  I will do indoor activities and training with them, however, this past winter I decided to try to embrace the fun of winter with my dogs.

I heard of this seven stage virtual race called Iron Paws and having recently tried some ‘mushing’ sports with my dogs I thought I’d try it.  This stage race is virtual so you do it on your own or with a friend, if you have someone local, and log your miles online.  There are also extra ways to earn some bonus points.  You are put on a team based on your location.  I was lucky enough to be relatively close to some other team members so we could meet up and get our “social” points.  There are different classes you can enter:  sled dog (self explanatory), skijor (dog pulls you on skis), bikejor(dog pulls you on a bike), competitive or recreational canicross (dog pulls you on foot walking, running or snowshoeing).  I have always run canicross style with my dogs so decided to try the bikejor class to get me out more on my fat bike.  Yes, that’s right my dog(s) were pulling me on my bike through the snow.  And yes, you’re right, if you saw that crazy person in town being pulled on her bike by a dog or two….that was ME!!!

It’s cold but we’re both happy
Getting ready for a ride.  There is lots of help at the Regional meet ups



Happy dog after a bike ride
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A ride early in the race, not much snow…yet


The point of my post is that I had an incredibly fun winter being involved in this event.  It really encouraged me to get out in the winter when I would most likely just melt into the couch and binge something on Netflix.  It helped keep my dogs’ fitness level up and possibly even improved it over the winter!  I met new friends, tried new things and the seven weeks FLEW by!  They even have a class for the ODRs (Old Dogs Rule) for older, injured or physically limited dogs.  I had two entries in that class also and just had to log a minimum of one mile per week.  There is a bye week so if you’re on vacation or sick or injured you get a week off.  It’s very simple to enter online and even the canicross recreational class can be done by anyone with any size/breed of dog!  You don’t need to have skiis or bikes or a dog sled or huskies.  There was a lady in Quebec who did this with her 3 Chihuahuas!  I WILL be doing this again next year and I hope you and your dogs will join me!


Winter and Holiday Hazards

Well the holiday season is well under way and as we prepare our homes for family and other guests we must remember to keep things safe for our furry residents as well.  The holidays are an exciting time with celebrations galore, breaks from school and work, decorating and gift-giving.  Our pets feel that excitement and energy from us, they notice the smells of baked goods, the giant tree (what? there’s a tree in the house!?), the decorations on the tree and the packages under the tree!  The excitement can make them curious, make them want to investigate these new things and new smells some of which could be dangerous for them.  Here are a few things to keep in mind over the holidays to keep our pets safe in our homes:

  • holiday ornaments, gift wrapping and tinsel can look like bright, shiny toys to our pets so ensure they are unreachable and up high on the tree or the tree somehow blocked with a baby gate when you can’t supervise your pets near the tree
  • holiday plants such as lilies, holly, mistletoe and pointsettias can be toxic to pets
  • alcohol should be supervised and kept away from pets as well as any baked goods containing alcohol
  • holiday foods such as chocolate, baked goods and fruitcakes with grapes and raisins, sugarless gums and candies containing xylitol can all be toxic to pets
  • leftovers and table scraps can be fatty and cause pancreatitis as well as the risk of cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal damage

It is a good idea to know when your regular veterinarian is open over the holidays and to have a back up plan for when they are closed.  It wouldn’t hurt to find out where your nearest Emergency Vet is and what their hours are, even if you don’t need them for your own pet a family member or guest visiting with their pet might!  Another good resource is the Pet Poison Hotline.  They can advise you in advance based on what you are able to report to them if your pet should be rushed to an Emergency Vet in the case of an incident.  That number is 855-764-7661.  There is a fee and you will be given a case reference # to take to the vet if they feel your pet needs immediate veterinary care.

Even once the holidays are over there are a few extra things we need to be careful around with our pets over the remainder of the winter.  Some things to remember for winter:  keep antifreeze up high and away from where pets can get it, beware of what ice melters/salt you are using, checking vehicles for cats sleeping in the engine space or wheel wells to keep warm, get your dog a coat and/or boots for extreme cold days.  Our pets still need to get out and get exercise but in the cases of extreme cold I’m sure they’d be quite happy to potty in the yard and spend some time with you indoors.

The better prepared you are the easier the holidays will be for all!  Merry Christmas from me and my fur family to you and yours!