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Julia’s Column For the Middy!

Snowballs aren’t always fun, especially when they turn to ice!

“Julia, what on earth is this?”

Years ago, I had a lovely colleague called Maya working with us, who was from New Zealand. She was a Maori by extraction, with a huge smile, as well as being tremendously caring and quite experienced.

But one day she was stumped. It was wintertime, and her patient was a fluffy dog called Oscar, a bouncy two year old Bearded Collie, who was limping. It was during one of our really unusual snowy periods in Sussex, and we had all been enjoying a rare opportunity to go tobogganing the previous weekend.

Maya had examined him carefully and found some hard brown lumps between his pads, but had no idea what they were. I imagine she wasn’t from the mountainous parts of ‘down under’, because the lumps were balls of ice.
Ice and snow can be such fun, and beautiful too, when it’s all sparkling and new with the sun shining on it. But I never like the phase when the grit has been put down and it goes all dirty and slushy.

Some pets’ fur just seems to act like a kind of magnet to ice. I know many pets with long fur that have never experienced this problem. But Oscar’s coat had been left quite long to help him keep warm in the winter, and the fur between his pads had got all clogged up with mud, which had then frozen into incredibly hard balls – lots of them!

The solution was straightforward. We bathed his paws, encouraging the mud and ice to melt and wash away, then trimmed the fur to reduce the risk of this happening again.
I hate having even a tiny stone in my shoe – it really hurts. Poor Oscar must have really struggled carrying that lot around under his feet! Animals really are amazing!

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