YakTrax

I live in Canada and our winters are weird.

I grew up in the Toronto area and I have to say, our winters have gotten weirder and weirder as I’ve gotten older.  This past week we had the strangest weather.  After a snow storm a couple of weeks ago, we had spells of mild weather and rainy weather.  It caused quite the fog and melted some snow then froze it overnight.  So walking on some of the trails have been like walking on a skating rink.  Pretty slippery!!

I’ve tried a few clamp on your shoe type grips to help me walk on ice.  Here’s the pair I’m using now. It’s called the Yak Trax.

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They have metal coiled around the bottom and create a good grip on ice.

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I’ve worn them 3 times so far.  They just fit my hiking shoe and my rain boots.  They are pretty narrow.  I have a pair of Sorel snow boots but I really doubt I can stretch the YakTrax without hurting myself.  The top part has a velcro strap which is different from my older pairs I had, it provides a little more snugness but it still slips off at least once during my one hour walk.  So for this product, I’ll give it 3 paws out of 4.

They work and do the job (not letting me slip), but they slip off my shoe at least once per time I’ve worn them.  They are a bit of a pain to put on because they are just the right fit but I have to pull them using a lot of force to get it over the heel of my shoe.  These hiking boots are Ladies size 7(US)  which is 38 in UK and they just fit the Small YakTrax.  I can’t imagine stretching a small over a Ladies size 10, as the range on the box suggests.  You know that fear of a rubber band hitting your hand, that’s what I would fear / feel trying to put it on anything bigger than my Ladies size 7s.

Someone I spoke with on the trail told me they had a pair of Yak Trax but they didn’t last for more than a season.  I’m hoping the ice will melt and spring will be around the corner. Let’s hope!

UPDATE: DEC 17, 2018

I still have this pair of YAKTRAX and have used them more than a dozen times last season and again today on my trail walk. I love the security I feel, the grip under my shoes, it really helps me on my walks. They are essential to icy walks. 🙂

Raw food for dogs

Today I had an interesting conversation with a dog owner who feeds her dog a raw diet.  She told me that her dog’s food costs approximately $60 (in Canadian, I’m in Canada) a month and buys meat for no more than $2 per pound.

I fed Bolt and Dutch (my foster dog) a raw diet for several months while I was able to get a discount working for Pets Get Physical back in 2014.  Here are some of the benefits I noticed:

  • they loved it;
  • they pooped less and it biodegraded more quickly;
  • their teeth became whiter;
  • their skin looked better;
  • their fur was nicer, as in less grimy and more shiny.

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Here are their bowls of raw meat. I also used a supplement that I got from work to help clean out parasites.  I’m not sure if it worked, I’m hoping it did!

I thought feeding them a raw diet was a more natural and cleaner eating choice than processed dog kibble.  But after I stopped working for Pets Get Physical and lost my discount, I went back to dog kibble.  I try to buy holistic or grain-free and GMO-free kibble.  I think better ingredients make a difference.

I learned a secret from PJs Pet Express before they went out of business.  I was told that it’s okay for dogs to eat dog kibble that has expired.  Apparently, it’s still good for another 3 to 6 months!  Pet stores are just not allowed to sell expired foods (obviously).

So, I became good friends with the staff and I would drop by when they were doing their monthly clean up of their shelves and discounting the food close to expiry.  I saved hundreds of dollars doing this and I was getting high quality food from PJs for huge discounts.  I wonder if it had anything to do with their business going down?  Haha..oh..oops.

Well, the lady I spoke with today about her dog’s raw diet made me think about putting Bolt and Smokey on a raw diet one day.  She had some interesting tips on getting raw food cheap. She spoke confidently and sounded like she did a lot of research, but I didn’t agree with some of the things she said.  It just didn’t sound right in my gut.

Here are some of the things she said:

  1. She buys her food with other people in bulk from a supplier.
  2. She buys some of her meats on sale at supermarkets like T&T.
  3. She feeds her dog a variety of meats, including pork.  I agree with feeding a dog a variety of animal meats.  Keri Lynn at Pets Get Physical told me that switching from chicken to lamb, then to beef, and then to tripe a week or two at a time was good for the dogs — not in that particular order, but the point is to change it up once in a while.  I felt that was a big difference from the dog kibble world where we are told to stick to one food and flavour for the dog’s entire life — ever heard of that?  I was all for giving my dogs variety as long as it didn’t upset their stomach, and raw food never did.  So, I agree to mix it up and feed a variety of raw meats to the dog, but I wouldn’t feed my dog raw pork.  Just the thought of feeding raw pork to my dog sends off alarms in my head.  Maybe it’s due to the years of being told to cook pork thoroughly, but I just wouldn’t want to take any chances.
  4. She finds cheap or free raw meat by asking people online for their freezer burnt meats.  I know it’s not good to be wasteful and, sure, the meat in our freezers are meant to feed humans, so the grade is higher, but have you ever cooked freezer burnt meat and eaten it? Trust me, it tastes gross. So, here’s another “hmm…interesting, but no thanks.” If I’m going to give my dogs raw food, it will be the good stuff and not the forgotten blocks of mystery freezer burnt stuff at the bottom/back of the freezer.  Sorry if I sound judgy or snooty, I just personally wouldn’t do it.  To each their own — I didn’t tell her I disagreed with her, I just listened and I respect her choice for her dog.
  5. She said it’s okay to give dogs meat that has been thawed and frozen a number of times. So, again, it’s the brain washing at work here for me. I’ve been told since I was young that food isn’t safe to freeze again once thawed (something about bacteria). So, I’ll pass and won’t refreeze thawed meat to give to my dog later.

Sometimes, no matter how much you concern yourself over feeding your dog properly or with the best ingredients, they can still get a health issue and it could be out of our control.  There are no guarantees, ’tis life.

Whether you cook your food for your dog, feed him raw food, or buy him processed kibble, it’s your choice.  I would suggest that we do our own research.

If it’s processed, then read the label and ingredient list and be aware that higher quality and better ingredients will probably be better for our dogs in the long run.  Just like us, we know that eating processed foods all the time is junk to our bodies and it’s better to eat the real, or closer to real, stuff (unprocessed whole foods).

I’m glad my dogs are not picky eaters and are happy eating dog kibble, and that they would be estatic eating raw food when I can afford it.

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Here are Bolt and Dutch getting Big Country Raw Bone Marrows as a treat and to clean their teeth.  They spent a good couple of hours enjoying their marrow outside that year.

UPDATE: During my dog training with CampSK9 in 2018, one of my homework assignments was to watch the Netflix documentary called “Pet Fooled”, it was about the pet food industry and boy is it an eye opener!  Please try to watch it if it’s still available on Netflix.

Since watching that documentary, both Smokey and Bolt are on a raw diet. We get our food from Maddie’s Dog Grooming & Boutique on Main Street in Stouffville. 20170511_161254The brand they sell is called Iron Will Raw.  They love it and I feel more peace of mind with them on raw than on kibble.  The biggest and most satisfying results I’ve seen in their health are their teeth, they have very minimal tartar and it’s a relief since a vet told me in 2017 that he strongly suggests a $500 scaling for each of them. Umm..NO THANKS! LOL

UPDATE: April 30, 2019

Due to the raised costs of raw food for dogs, my two dogs are toggling between raw food and high quality kibble from Global Pet Foods when raw is inconvenient.  I’ve been trying out the tips from my original post above, especially tip #2 and have bought chicken drumsticks for $0.88/lb at T&T and fed them to Bolt and Smokey.  It lacked organ meat and fats, and I had to add pureed pumpkin so that their poops would have some substance.

Overall, I believe a raw diet is best but kibble is my go to when it’s economical and convenient. I’m keeping an eye on my dogs’ teeth and making sure there’s no build up. It took a while for me to brush and scrap off their tartar in the last year.

The documentary “Pet Fooled” definitely gave me a scare about pet food recalls and the quality of process foods.  I think it’s important not to feel shamed for the food you feed your dog, do your best research and offer nutritious food to your dogs to the best of your knowledge.