Paws Along the Trail with Booties
One of the favorite aspects of watching the dog teams come in and leave is the dog booties. Mushers put cloth booties on the dogs’ feet to prevent the wet snow from gathering between their toes and then freezing. A bootie is just a little bag with Velcro that wraps around a dog’s wrist to keep it on.
When teams arrive, usually taking off booties is one of the first chores for the musher. I have noticed that most mushers toss the used booties off to the side or into a pile. Volunteers or villagers gather the booties as souvenirs. One lady in Anvik asked Noah Pereira to autograph a red bootie for her. If the musher is doing something else right away, some of the dogs take it upon themselves to bite and pull off their booties!
There have been a couple of mushers who carried a bag and collected the booties. They can be laundered later and reused. Booties cost mushers about $.80 each or more! If a musher has 16 dogs, how much does cost to use new booties at 20 checkpoints?
Mushers generally stand over the dogs to lift paws, wipe off snow, and strap a bootie on each foot. The dogs don’t seem to mind. The booties come in all colors and in three different sizes: small, medium, and large. The mushers also use booties (as do I) to store their GPS trackers on the race. Large safety pins hold the tracker-filled booties in place.
One more bit of information: dogs sweat through their feet. Used booties are great souvenirs, but they stink!