Lockup

Lockup

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Layne, Liz

Fall is one of my favorite times to get outside with my dog. There are no mosquitoes, ticks, or flies to drive her crazy; the risk of heat exhaustion is virtually nil; and we both like to get muddy. But we are aware that it's hunting season, and so we take precautions to avoid disturbing hunters, or being disturbed by them. We are also aware that many wild animals are breeding during this time and disruption from an inquisitive dog is unwanted.

There is, however, a risk to our canine friends during the fall and winter that takes most dog owners by complete surprise: fur-bearer trapping on public and private lands. Most trappers are highly skilled and leave no trace of their activities; this minimizes the risk of conflict with pets. They set their traps in a way that makes it impossible for a dog to get caught; they also choose areas most recreationists avoid.

In spite of this though, a few dogs in Montana die every year after being inadvertently caught in traps. Regardless of your opinion on trapping, if you recreate with your dog on public lands in the fall or winter, you need to be aware of a few things:

- Trapping is permitted only during certain months on these lands. Trappers are not required, and generally do not, post the areas they are using.

- Bait is used to entice the fur-bearers; dogs will be attracted to this too. Keep your dog in sight and under voice control. We hear this often and tend to ignore it, but in this situation it could be the difference between life and death for your dog.

- If your dog does get caught, you’ll see it because you’ve got him in sight (see #2), and you’ll know how to release the trap because you’ve studied the information from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks about releasing traps.

- You need to carry a multipurpose tool with pliers and a saw (a Leatherman, for example) and a sturdy belt or strap in order to release traps. These are things you should have anyway when heading out in to the woods.

Liz Layne practices small-animal medicine at Creekside Veterinary Hospital on Blackwood Road. She recommends Field First Aid for Dogs, by Randy Acker, DVM as further reference. For instructions on how to release snares and connibear traps, visit fwp.mt.gov/hunting/trapping.




Orbee Tuff Cosmos Luna dog ball—PLANET DOG
The day I brought the Orbee-Tuff Cosmos Luna home, my puppy hid it. I could have sworn he was too big to get under the bed, but turns out that in the middle of the night he likes to belly-crawl in there and gnaw on the Luna ball. Thank god it's not a squeaker.

I can only assume it’s made out of Space Shuttle O-Ring Booster rubber (the new ones, not the old ones), because it seems indestructible. The ball is hollow but has weight. I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn't make as much noise as a bone being thrown up in the air and landing on hardwood floors over and over and over.

The mint-flavored ball has a cool little eccentric bounce and survives multiple games of tug-of-war (the last game we played I thought for sure Cole was going to leave a tooth in the thing). Although my pup still seems to love the squeaky ball and squeaky hedgehog, this ball has definitely become one of his top toys. $15; planetdog.com.

—Brian England




Don't Shoot Spot
Practical tips to keep your pup out of the line of fire
A friend of mine spent years guiding grouse hunters in Wisconsin; he finally quit because, among other reasons, he couldn’t take the stress of clients shooting holes in the air around his dogs. Sooner or later, he reckoned, one of those holes would be in one of his dogs.

Keeping your bird dog safe takes common sense (you) and training (the dog). Here are the do’s and don’ts. In a fit of literary license, I’ve decided to call them Carty’s Rules.

- When a pheasant flushes, does your dog break and chase it over the horizon? Of course he does. But that’s dangerous. Train him to be steady to flush and he won’t be in the line of fire when you shoot.

- Train him to come when he’s called—every time. If you know where he is, you won’t shoot in his direction.

- Never ever walk in on a dog with your safety off. I know you think you won’t trip or accidentally misfire, but how can I put this delicately: you’re wrong. I’ve seen it happen.

- Point the barrel of your gun away from your dog when accepting a retrieved bird. Better yet, break the action.

- Always break the action or unload your gun when laying it on the ground. Dogs step on exposed triggers all the time. Your pup may be okay, but he could shoot your foot off. And a missing foot is something you’ll notice.

—Dave Carty




Doggie Belles—Elle's Belles Bakery
If you like sweets, you’re probably all too aware of those preeminent taste-bud tantalizers known as Elle’s Belles cookies. And if you have a dog, chances are it shares your mammalian delight for mouthwatering treats. With this in mind, Elle’s Belles Bakery (on Tai Lane near the MSU campus) has introduced Doggie Belles—all-natural, handcrafted dog treats for your canine pal to savor. Three flavors—Cheesy Beefy Squares, Peanut Butter Loves, and Bacon Buttons—will please even the most finicky pooch. $3 per bag; ellesbellescookies.com.

—Mike England

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