Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

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Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Dog Shoes:

James Evans, while working as a missionary, describes an important item of care in the use of sled dogs:  dog shoes  (Reference Egerton R. Young, 1900). “Another important item of the load is a large supply of dog shoes.  Mr. Evans was always most careful about his dogs’ feet.  These shoes are very essential, as a dog’s foot is very liable to injury.  Sometimes on the rough, sharp ice, they cut their feet so that they bleed very much.  At other times in the rough places they break off the nails from their toes or run sharp spikes through the webbing between the toes.  When thus injured they are quite unfitted for work and speedily let it be known that something is wrong.  An experienced dog will stop and refuse to move until his sore feet are attended to.  The wise missionary will have handy a bunch of cotton wool as well as dog shoes.  A little of the wool, saturated in balsam gum, is fastened over the wounded part of the foot, then the dog shoe which is like a long mitten without the thumb, is drawn on the foot and securely fastened with a piece of deer skin.  The dogs get to be very fond of these shoes, and sometimes resort to queer expedients to get them on.  They will sometimes pretend to be very footsore; and, if the night be specially cold at the camp, they will howl and whine for them in a way that is pathetic though at times very laughable.  Mr. Evans’ train of half dogs, half wolves would lie down on their backs and holding up their four feet would howl for him or Henry to put on their shoes.”  

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