Battle Cry of a Canadian Dog Walker

This weekend, Nova Scotians suffered the first real deep freeze of the year. Now that the temperatures have taken their inevitable sub-zero dip, it is time to channel my inner penguin. Every die-hard dog walker in Canada knows it’s not what you wear that matters. It’s how much you can pile on while still able to hold a leash. I’m surprised it hasn’t reached professional competitive levels yet.

As this will be my third winter braving the elements with my dog, I consider myself pretty knowledgable when it comes to fighting off a bitter Nor’easter. Thus, I have put together a short list of essential items. No Canadian dog walker should leave the house without them.

Toque. Preferably one with ear flaps and a pom-pom. The latter isn’t necessary but it might help you feel more youthful. Nothing puts a spring in my winter step like a silly puff ball bouncing on the top of my head. If you live in the prairie provinces, you may want to consider a full balaclava. Something like this will do.

Mukluks.  You’ll want them at least knee-high. Don’t worry if you can’t bend your legs. With the snow drifts, you won’t be able to move very fast anyway. Boots that prevent ice chunks from sneaking underneath are best. Nothing spoils a good, frigid stroll like frozen socks. Those in the Maritimes will want to make sure they are waterproof. I once made the mistake of assuming my Albertan winter boots were enough for the wet and sloppy Nova Scotian climate. Don’t be like me and go for fashion over substance. Unless you don’t want that pinky toe.

via

Easy-open poop bags. It`s either that or I recommend pre-opening all of the bags before you leave the house. There is nothing worse than suffering frostbite because you had to remove a mitten to fight with a piece of plastic. Been there. It sucks.

Dog Sweater. I’m not usually a big “dogs in clothes” kind of person. Growing up with a Siberian Husky, I questioned why people thought their pets needed extra protection from the elements. Don’t they have fur? However, Shiva has shorter-fur. While it protects her from the majority of the weather conditions we face, I do worry about her walking around in thirty below. I also noticed some distinct shivering at the other end of the leash this weekend. It`s hardly fair for me to be all snug in my Gortex if she is freezing her tail off. A search for a practical and durable doggy jacket is on! I think this might do nicely:

Snowshoes. May as well go all out, especially if your city is like mine and employs the slowest plows in the world. The pathways and roads will be covered for the next three months at least. Snowshoes will also help you avoid those humiliating spills I mentioned above. Sure and you’ll look like a dork, but it’s hard to look cool walking three dogs decked out in reindeer sweaters anyway.

Flask. Not that I condone public drunkenness. *shifty eye* Nonetheless, having a little something in your pocket to warm your insides might be just the thing. Besides, you`ll need a way to celebrate walking across an icy street without landing on your bottom. If you are worried about local liquor laws, this site has some good ideas for how to carry one. In a pinch, you can use a Tim’s travel mug. It’s more Canadian that way.

Trendy scarf. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up on fashion. Think of how hot you will look in your parka and snowpants with a brightly-coloured American Apparel design around your neck. You will be sure to catch everyone’s eye. With the right style, no one will even notice your nose has frozen off.

via

With all of this gear, your winter will pass by like a gentle summer breeze. Four feet of snow? Meh. 100 km per hour winds? Pshaw. Eyebrows forming ice crystals? Baby stuff. You and your dog will be fully prepared for whatever the season brings. Never again will you cower in fear from a blizzard. No more will you have to worry about canine cabin fever during the long winter months. Now you can both head outside and enjoy the wonder of nature with the satisfaction of knowing you will remain nice and toasty. Take that winter! You can’t stop us from walking our dogs!

Who’s with me? 

Anyone? Anyone?

I suppose the other Canadian tradition of hot cocoa and down blankets also works.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, make sure to check out part two of the social media giveaway and get your entries in! Nothing warms a body like cold cash!

45 thoughts on “Battle Cry of a Canadian Dog Walker

  1. LOL all very good suggestions. I may consider some for when I am sitting out in a field for 4 hours while the dogs are training. The one about the flask sounds particularly tempting. 🙂

    Like

    • LOL. I don’t mind the snow, it’s just the deep cold I’m not adjusted to yet. It makes me wince when I even think about going outside. On days like these, I wish we had Shiva toilet-trained! 😉

      Like

  2. Good job Kristine, I might also recommend hand and foot warmers, because dang it sure does get cold.

    Seriously, I usually bundle up with snow pants when I walk the dogs in the winter, and I also got these flannel lined jeans at Cabelas. 🙂

    Like

    • I’ve heard very good things about flannel jeans back when my PH coached hockey and we spent a lot of time in cold, unheated arenas. I will have to see if I can find some for myself. Another layer is always welcome!

      Like

  3. GIven it was a whopping 19 degrees F this weekend, I had to break out my winter best as well.

    I’m in the market for some snow shoes!

    Like

  4. Blimey I am surprised you can still stand up, let alone walk in that lot. Should think Shiva is really gflad of her coat. Bet she’s also appreciate some boots:)

    If it was bad enough for snow shoes here, I’d have to strap a tennis racket to each foot:)

    Like

  5. I was looking for a balaclava to wear for winter bike riding. The one you linked to has the added bonus of being so scary no cars would dare to hit me.

    You didn’t mention long underwear. Black, high performance long johns are a regular part of my wardrobe. And all the Golden Retriever hair that permanently sticks to them adds to the warmth.

    I’m seriously thinking about sailing to Australia. Do you and Shiva want to join us?

    Like

    • Isn’t it hilarious? I was going to post a photo but I worried it would frighten people. Also, I didn’t want my site to become a a top hit for “images of serial killers.”

      I should have mentioned long underwear. It did occur to me but I have yet to get over my squeamishness. It must harken back to my youth when my mother would force them on me and I’d spend all day itching. They must make them better these days.

      Absolutely! Name the day. Though I admit Australia scares me with all the crazy things that can kill you. How about New Zealand?

      Like

  6. Hi Kristine, ha, ha, ha – my dad thought that your post today was really good. He and my mom usually wear “duck boots” when they walk us. They’re basically slip-on rubber boots that come up to your ankles – good for all the rain and puddles out here. My dad has a good bright yellow insulated coat that keeps the rain off him. For us, my mom and dad got us squall jackets from Lands End. There’s a promotion on right now for 40% off and free shipping into Canada. Here’s a link http://www.landsend.com/pp/PetSquallJacket~227863_-1.html?bcc=y&action=order_more&sku_0=::BSK&CM_MERCH=search-_-dog&origin=search

    Hurry, the 40% is only good until 11:59 PM Central time today (Dec 19) Here’s the code if you’re interested: At checkout‚ manually enter the Promotion Code DONNER and PIN 1585.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for the link and promotion code! I appreciate that. I will have to check it out ASAP. Free shipping is always welcome!

      Like

  7. My toque hat has a mane, ears and a lion face on it! And another one that I have is like the abominable snow-man.. it’s white and has got this crazy mane of yarn, big eyes and this scary mouth like thing in the design… it’s AWESOME.

    We are not a fan of cold weather… nope nope nope. Main reason is that i really hate wearing coats. I go as long as i can wearing fleece jacket with a down vest. It’s always a sad day when I have to bust out the winter coat.

    Rio is designed as probably the worst winter dog ever… very short fur, almost no body fat…. this boy starts to shiver at like 40degrees if we aren’t moving around. I made him a fleece coat last year that keeps his chest as well as his back warm. He’s such a funny shape, it’s hard to find clothes that fit tightly enough to keep cold air out but also long enough to cover his hips…

    Like

    • Love the toque! You’ll have to share photos. Did you make it yourself? I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that in stores.

      It is a sad day. I had to pull out the heavy-duty winter coat yesterday evening to take Shiva out for her evening walk and I almost cried. Shiva doesn’t have any body fat either, which could be her problem. It’s not for lack of trying!

      Like

  8. You didn’t mention one of the things I find to be essential in cold weather: Fleece footy pajamas. Its a whole fleece body suit, making it impossible for those little errant winds to find a way in.

    Like

    • Awesome! I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to wear that outside. Maybe when I finally have a private yard. But they do sound cozy.

      Like

    • While I can’t blame you, If I did that it might be months before we get outside. From January to March it’s pretty deep freeze all the time around here. I don’t know if I’d have much of a house left in that time!

      Like

  9. Pingback: Links and a Request | Life by Pets

  10. In Minnesota, without a dog, I would run in my snowsuit and boots, ending up like the Abominable Snowman with bruised knees. Here in Missouri, the snow, alas, is less but the ice can be formidable; my best find is a petite Carhartt coveralls (they replaced my ski pants which ripped out from crawling across the Billy Goats Gruff bridge with 250′ of water hose to get to the horses in pasture). A Gator (round scarf), a Toque (YEAH) and Muttens! mittens which let you pull out your fingers for those poop bags, then cover and keep them warm in your walk; the leash goes to your hand inside the Mutten. Good luck; think I’ll go have some cocoa….

    Like

    • Muttens! Yes! I was actually looking for that link yesterday but I couldn’t find it. They were on my Christmas list last year but tragically, I didn’t receive them under the tree. Maybe I was naughty? This year I will have to by them for myself! Thanks for the link!

      Like

  11. We don’t have any snow yet, but this weekend was the start of cold weather – really cold, on saturday!- so I’m going to have to start bundling up again. On my morning walks in the winter, I pull on snowpants (over my flanel pj bottoms, because I’m a classy lady), and usually have a fleece sweater under my heavy winter coat. Gwynn gets boots, but only because of the salt and ice buildup in his toes. I have been getting so many comments lately about how much effort it must be to keep his (now very long and wooly) fur unmatted and combed (all suggesting that I just keep his fur short year-round) – but why on earth would I cut off his nice fleecy warm fur coat, only to replace it with a man-made coat? While I’m shivering in my boots this winter, Gwynn will be lounging on a snow-bank, beard full of snow and looking like father christmas

    Like

    • I am no lover of maintenance. I can barely make the time to groom myself in the mornings. So I am always impressed when people have immaculately groomed dogs. You are an inspiration. I will be honest, one of the reasons I agreed to bring Shiva home was because she requires very little work in that department. Her fur is longer than it looks and she sheds a ridiculous amount, but there is no fear of matting!

      Gwynn sounds adorable. I don’t think I could bear to shave him either. He must worship the cold weather!

      Like

      • It isn’t as bad as it could be – he puts up with brushing pretty well, so he is my ‘tv watching hobby’ in the evening. He definitely appreciated the short hair in the spring and summer, but now, with his full fur on, he’s ready for the snow 🙂 But I’m still jealous when I hear people talking about how they just wipe their muddy dog down with a damp cloth to clean them up after an adventure – Gwynn definitely doesn’t comb clean 😛

        Like

  12. I’m sorry, I still don’t understand what a balaclava is and I’ve always wondered when I came across the term in a British mystery novel. And it’s not because I live in Arizona; I grew up in NY, where there was lots of snow. The picture you linked to, while extremely charming in a frightening way, still leaves me clueless about what this item of clothing might be. Please help!

    Like

    • LOL. I will try. A balaclava is something that fits over your whole head, including your face. There are just little holes for your eyes, nose, and mouth. Maybe this link will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaclava_(clothing)

      I’ve actually never worn one and I remember the boys in elementary school who did were made fun of. But I bet they are toasty! Not to mention, great for robbing banks.

      Like

      • Thank you! We had those items of clothing back east, but they were called…damned if I remember or every knew.
        I now feel far better prepared to read British thrillers.

        Like

  13. LOL a pom-pom should be required by law. 🙂 I wouldn’t know the first thing to do in weather that cold, so thanks! Even when we go up to the mountains for snow days, it’s never THAT cold. Glad you found Shiva just the right jacket. 😉

    Like

    • Heh. I agree! It was my favourite gift from last Christmas!

      Shiva agrees. Though I haven’t been able to convince her to wear it outside yet.

      Like

  14. Great list! I don’t expect it to get toooo cold down here but I did just order some amazing waterproof boots. And I’m knitting some legwarmers–we’ll see how they turn out! 🙂

    Like

    • I am kind of jealous. Though I do like snow, especially around the holidays. It would feel very strange to have a warm Christmas.

      Like

  15. Suddenly, I’m glad I live a bit closer to the equator than you Canucks! I am really liking those boots, though. Does a pink sock monkey hat count as appropriate dog walking gear?

    If you’re looking for a warm coat for Shiva, try Voyagers K9 Apparel. http://k9apparel.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=148 They don’t make reindeer sweaters, but they do make some very nice coats. The Greyhounds have very short fur and no body fat, so a good coat is a necessity! Another coat place you might like is Chilly Dogs. http://www.chillydogs.ca/

    Like

    • Thanks for the great links! What, you don’t think the reindeer sweater will cut it? 😉

      And a pink sock monkey hat totally counts. In fact, it gets bonus points!

      Like

  16. I’m laughing as I’m reading this! I went out today and was woefully underprepared and froze my buns off, it’s been the coldest day of the year by far.

    Since the dogs aren’t so much into cold weather, either. We have greatly redacted walks. They’d rather be chillin on a warm couch than freezing in a sports field.

    Like

  17. Pingback: Holiday Wishes for Homeless Animals | Something Wagging This Way Comes

  18. this is great. i would not survive up there at all. it’s been warmer than usual in long island, and i am freezing my buns off already. i’m wearing two pairs of pants, knee-high socks, two shirts, and a huge coat. i don’t know what i’m gonna do when it really gets cold. i’m gonna need that balaclava thing!

    Like

Comments are closed.