Mud Vessels

How to avoid murdering your dog. 

It’s that time of year: the birds have returned, the animals are twitterpated, and the first green tendrils have emerged from the fresh bare soil. In Montana, this is where the resemblance to a Disney movie ends. Otherwise, spring means mud, and we’re more than a little sour about dealing with yet another hindrance to our trail time. To add insult to injury, our four-legged companions have zero awareness of the strife that all this slop causes in our homes. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can employ to ease the tension between you and your mud-covered canine.

Just the Paws
Protective booties can work, but your dog will likely be as uncomfortable with them as your friends are. Instead, trim long hair on the paws and legs. This helps prevent mud and ice clumps from forming, and makes cleanup easier. Another trick is to try out a paw plunger, which looks like the world’s strangest Nalgene but is actually an encapsulated scrub-brush—simply add water and dunk your pup’s paws inside. The bristles scrape off the mud and leave your dog’s paws squeaky clean—or at least clean enough to let him or her in the house. There are several brands to choose from; check Dee-O-Gee or your favorite pet store to see what’s available.

Car Trouble
Mud or not, keeping a car clean amid all the dog detritus can be a full-time job. Help the situation by stashing an old towel and some window wipes in the trunk or back seat. To fully commit to the mud-free lifestyle (and impress at the trailhead), bring your rarely-used camp-shower kit and spray your pup down after a muddy hike. A wet dog is better than a dirty one, right?

The Point of No Return
Maddie has fully immersed herself in nature’s embrace. She found a huge mud pit and wallowed in it like a bull moose. The inside of your car has become an abstract art display featuring a splatter painting by a color-blind artist. You just cleaned your house, and your backyard hose is still packed under a precarious pile of patio furniture in the garage. Fear not—before heading home, stop by one of the DIY dog washes in town (Dee-O-Gee, Bridger Bubbles, and Duds N Suds). They supply the shampoo, aprons, towel, and scrubber; all you need to do is show up with your muddy dog and be ready for even more Jackson Pollack action on the shower walls.

Last Resort
If you’re late for a hot date and don’t have time to scrub mud off your happily filthy beast, there are a few services in town beyond a groomer that may be able to help. Call your dog walker, or if you don’t have one, try a local business like Adventure Pawtners. They’ll pick up your pup, take him through the doggy wash, and drop him back home, spick and span. Heck, they’ll even take Bridger on the hike for you, so you can keep yourself clean, too.