Dog walkers challenge: a winter balancing act

Dog walkers challenge: a winter balancing act
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NORWELL, Mass. — It has been a tricky balancing act this week for dedicated dog walkers at area parks and trails, as an icy crust covered many of the walking paths and the sun didn’t seem to be melting or softening the surfaces.

“It’s a little icy,” Julie Head of Marshfield said Wednesday as she gingerly made her way around Gordon Pond in Norris Reservation in Norwell.

Her rescue dog, a Brittany Spaniel, was on a retractable line and keeping a steady pressure up in front of her.

Jay Fleming of Norwell was moving right along with his dog Oscar, even though he also didn’t have any traction devices on his boots.

“I was hoping it would be a little bit warmer so the snow would be softer,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s tough today — it’s like a skating rink.”

Head was being extra careful to stay upright with an inquisitive Pele, named after the Hawaiian Fire Goddess. A maternity nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she had worked in Boston during the Tuesday storm. First thing on Wednesday morning, she was out with Pele.

By Friday, temperatures had climbed into the low 30s and the sun was shining, but little had changed on the ground surface at Norris Reservation.

Kristen Sherman of Scituate finished walking her four-year-old dog and said, “It’s beautiful in there, but you have to walk slowly with your knees bent or you might fall and break a hip!”

Karen Kane of Norwell came prepared for her regular walk with Rex, her seven-year old Portuguese water dog.

“This is as much for me as it is for him,” she said. “He loves being outside but I’m worried about ice and falling, so I wear these things. She pointed to metal cleats, called Yak Trax, on the outside of her shoe treads. “Without these I wouldn’t be here.” Kane said virtually most people who walk their dogs have traction devices or foot stabilizers of some kind.

Kane said she had fallen walking Rex at Bare Cove in Hingham, not in the winter, but just by stepping the wrong way on an ankle. In that case, she said, Rex was there in an instant, standing over her and licking her face.

Andrea Pizzi of Hanover, had her cleats on for her jaunt with Colby, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Colby is almost seven years old and Pizzi has walked him every day since he was a puppy at Norris Reservation, missing only about seven days.

“He loves to come here and I do too,” Pizzi said. “The hardest conditions are when it is a foot of snow and a blizzard because it is just so hard to walk, or when there is thick ice, harder than this, with footprints in place.”

She had some advice for other winter dog walkers: “Be prepared, have warm shoes, be hydrated, be rested and have a cell phone in case you get stuck in the woods.”

Post source : Sue Scheible/The Patriot Ledger

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