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Beacon Blog: It's a wonderful life ... for my dog

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2010 - This past week the bitterly cold (especially in the morning) temperatures prompted me to purchase my first two articles of dog clothing.

My previous dog several years ago was an overly furry Rottweiler who loved the cold weather and could lie on the ice and snow for hours. My current canine companion has a much shorter coat of fur and does what he can to avoid the cold. That said, he does not avoid walks, and so out we go at 6:30 in the morning.

Last week I woke up and checked the temperature on my cell phone and it read 8 degrees. "No way," I thought to myself and hit the refresh button to get the correct temperature. 6 degrees. Great.

The pet store had a large selection of dog-wear including a Martha Stewart line of trendy sweater primarily for smaller dogs. Since I am not trying to make a fashion statement, I kept looking for a more practical solution. I found a "coat" that is more like a cross between a cape and horse blanket. You place it on the dog's back and Velcro closures fasten across the front of the chest and another one that fastens under the dog's belly.

The coat is made of a red nylon material, like a windbreaker jacket, that is quilted underneath with a plaid fleece. My dog is a pretty docile animal and he tolerated the jacket very well and didn't try to squirm out of it. You could even say he liked it.

The matching boots are a different story. For one, I think I bought them too big. They went on easily enough, but after just a few crazy steps that looked a little like Cossacks marching, he was able to kick them off his paws. I'm going to return them and try a smaller size because the ice and chemicals really are hard on his feet.

It all makes me realize what a great life my dog has. To begin with, he was homeless and on death row at the Gasconade shelter when I found him. He doesn't really have to work. He gets to sleep all day. He has a personal chef and trainer. His dog bed is filled with memory foam. I can't say I would want to eat his dog food, but he seems to love it; and he gets two square meals a day. In between he gets dehydrated chicken breast strips. And let's not even talk about picking up dog poop.

Oh it's a wonderful life all right ... especially if you're a dog. See you in the park.

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