Every fall, dog owners face a forest full of hunters, which necessitates bedecking one’s black lab Madison with enough bright colors so Joe Midwest doesn’t blast her when she bounds out of the brush. But other than some hi-vis accouterments, how can you keep Madison happy and safe as summer turns to fall, and fall to winter? Here are a few items to consider.
On the Trail
Montana’s hot and dry summers leave our trails rocky and dusty—prime conditions for paw damage. Now, there’s no need to disrespect (and embarrass) your dog by putting boots on for any old hike; but, if you’re going to cover a lot of rugged miles, it’s a good idea to bring a couple along for the journey. If he does come up limp, the boots can act as a great temporary bandage and provide extra padding. My dog Hank uses the Grip Trex from Ruffwear ($75; ruffwear.com) when Stone Creek gets a little too stony. —DAVID TUCKER
To avoid unwanted trail encounters (like the aforementioned run-in with Joe Midwest), keep your dog closer than you might during the summer months. I make this decision on a trail-by-trail basis, since many area trails are still relatively vacant if you plan wisely. A stretchy leash, like Ruffwear’s Roamer ($40; ruffwear.com), is a good way to ensure Hank still gets his exercise, without him jumping up on people or surprising anyone coming around a corner. It buckles around my waist, so my hands are free, and stretches, so Hank doesn’t get tangled or caught up in my feet. For walking the dog to work or around town, though, stick to a leash with no give; the Roamer really allows Hank to roam, and more than once I’ve had a close call standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. —DAVID TUCKER
By the Fire
Even our wildest adventure buddies can get themselves into trouble in the backcountry. In Canine Field Medicine ($15, Tender Corporation), local veterinarian Sid Gustafson reveals preventive methods to take with our pups, plus ways to effectively respond to wilderness emergencies—everything from altitude sickness to head and spinal injuries. With over 35 years of veterinary practice, Sid applies his knowledge in this clear, concise, intensive guide so that we may fully enjoy our time out there with our fearless friends. He reveals that there’s no need to leave your canines behind when you go on great adventures, but it’s up to you to do the research before you leave—and this guide is a great place to start. —EMMA NORD
Humans have plenty of variety when it comes to quenching thirst, but canines—not so much. For most dogs, it’s the same-old clear-colored refreshment waiting at the car. A locally brewed “beer,” specially formulated for canines, recently won over my pup’s taste buds, putting an end to beverage boredom. Bozeman-based Happy Dog Beer Co. operates out of Amy Henkle’s basement, and her two non-alcoholic brews are distributed locally as well as shipped nationally. My guy quaffs both—Irresistible Pooch Ale (chicken) and Dubble Dog Dare Ya (beef) ($5; happydogbeerco.com)—with astonishing urgency. Henkle holds her chicken-beer secrets close to the vest, but divulges that the beef brew is made from marrow, rib, and knuckle, sourced by local ranchers. Both varieties are concocted—in part—using regular beer-brewing equipment. Pop the top off a bottle and serve it to your pooch straight up. —ERIN ENGLISH