U.P. winters are going to the dogs

Karen Wils photos Miss Mabel wears her stylish, pink winter sweater as she hikes in the woods with owner Debbie Rose.

ESCANABA — Most dogs are snow dogs.

We all marvel at the magnificent huskies and Alaskan Malamutes we see on TV pulling sleds.

It seems like there’s a little bit of Balto or Togo in most of our pet dogs.

A fresh snow fall acts like an upper to many dogs. Even old slightly arthritic golden retrievers and collies are rejuvenated by the cold, white, powdery stuff. A snowfall can put even the couch potato pooch into his second puppyhood.

Like little children, some dogs love to play in the snow and usually don’t want to come in until they’re good and wet or until you’re good and cold.

My family and I have kept beagles for many years. Sometimes people would ask if it’s hard to keep beagles in the winter months. Even though beagles have a shot coat of fur, they thrive in the wintertime.

It is always harder to keep them cool and comfortable in the summer when it is hot and humid.

All dogs do need some extra care in the winter. A warm place to sleep, little extra food, plenty of water and the right amount of exercise are musts.

Dogs are a bit like people. If your pup loafed around all during deer season and the holiday season, don’t expect him/her to be in tip-top shape to go plowing through snowdrifts.

Start out gradually with small walks and short adventures. You can buy a variety of dog jackets and sweaters and boots to make it easier for Fido to enjoy the outside elements.

Keep in mind that some dogs are designed to hunt in the snow, or pull sleds in the snow while other are designed to accompany their owners on short strolls through the winter wonderland.

Skijoring is a fun looking winter sport that is catching on in the U.P.

In this sport, a person on skis is pulled by a dog or several dogs. The skier needs to wear a skijoring waistband belt and the dogs need harnesses like that used by sled dogs.

Any dog over about 40 pounds makes for a good pulling candidate. Note: I won’t be trying this with my beagle any time soon. I’d end up in the middle of the swamp on a rabbit run way.

No matter if your snowy walk is simply around the backyard or a mile hike in the woods, fresh air and exercise is good medicine for people and their pups.

If you don’t have a snow dog of your own, you can watch some pretty amazing ones on TV.

The new movie “Togo” (Disney Channel) is an excellent true story about the diphtheria pandemic in Nome, Alaska and the sled dogs that brought the antitoxin serum.

“Iron Will” and the “Call of the Wild” are good movies that will get you mushing from your own easy chair.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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