A blur of black zipped in and out among the trees.

“How many miles do you think Logan has run around?” I said.

“At least twice as many as us!” Bryon replied.

But all that romping in the deep snow eventually took a toll.

“Oh my gosh, he’s got snow balls, just like Simon did that time!” I said.

Long-furred dogs present special challenges in the outdoors, especially in winter.

Our previous dog, Simon, had long black fur and extremely fuzzy feet.  Bryon called them hobbit feet. Though Simon adored the snow, those “hobbit feet” would cause him undo stress, collecting snow into tiny snow balls between the pads of his feet.  It would get so bad, that eventually he would stop from the pain.  He would nibble, chew and pull at those snow balls to get rid of them.

The answer?  We invested in dog booties.  After a few tried with more expensive ones, we found the best were ones bought in bulk from Dogbooties.com.  They are reasonably inexpensive, made of tough cordura fabric and easy to put on and off.  They also have a very sticky velcro closure that keeps them on.

Logan and Shawnee now wear the same blaze orange dog booties to keep them snow ball free during our winter adventures.  But unfortunately. Logan’s sticky long fur collects snow in other places, notably his belly and inner back legs.

We’d seen this before.  When we lived in Palisade, Colorado, we used to frequent The Grand Mesa in winter.  The Grand Mesa is the largest mesa in the world, and at 11,000 feet received lots of snow.  The Grand Mesa Nordic Council grooms over 40 kilometers of cross-country ski trails.  Being on Forest Service land, you can bring your dogs with you on most of them.

One day after a new snow, we took Simon on a ski with us.  We decided to break off the packed trails groomed out by the snow cat and go out out in the woods.  The farther we went, the slower Simon got, which surprised me.  Being only 5 years old, he was normally a very active dog and went on many hikes with us.

Finally, we broke out of the woods back to the groomed, packed down trail.  We quickly discovered what the issue was.  Simon’s belly and feathered legs had more than 50 baseball-size snow balls stuck to him.  We could only imagine the extra weigh and discomfort this caused him.

Using the tips or our poles, we did our best to break up the snow balls. Though we made some progress, but couldn’t completely remove them.  Ultimately, he didn’t get rid of his snow balls until the heater in the car melted them off during our drive home.

Though Logan collected snow balls on his belly and his haunches, he never slowed down.  Nor did he avoid the deep snow. He just kept happily romping along.

Once he got on the car, he set about chewing, pulling and trying to get rid of them.

I guess we’ll have to invest in some musher’s grease if we’re going to take him on more ski adventures.