Hardly. For newcomers, the HuggaMutt has arthritis in her hind end and a recently broken dew-claw up front. We have been advised to keep her weight down and watch for signs of distress.
No problem. Ellie comes with me every time I visit the river in the winter. We can bundle her up according to the temperature, all the way up to--but not usually including--boots to protect her from ice. Feeding is a different problem. She has her special dog foot, designed to keep down her weight, and she gets only dribs and drabs from my plates. She also, unfortunately, is constantly fed on chicken breast by Husband RJ. That's a lot of chicken breast.
So the remedy is exercise morning and afternoon.
On really cold days, we can usually get the Grove Street River Access all to ourselves, and Ellie runs off leash. She is trained to come to my whistle, and usually does. If I must track her down, she immediately goes on leash, necessary or not.
She comes along for my walks, nosing about for good things to eat. And, I swear, she actually finds things! I don't know what they are, but they usually look like pink meat. Like clean, uncooked meat. God alones knows what they are, but she finds them under tufts of coarse grass. So far, no adverse effects.
What she doesn't find are the smaller critters that I have learned to spot in the distance.
I was birding, as usual, and expected to find some smaller heron near the bank. When I noticed movement some 50 yards ahead, I focused my camera and zoomed in close.
I took several shots as we neared the animal, fearing it would take flight. In fact, we were just across the mouth of Hoffman Creek before it finally reacted. I saw a muskrat dive long and shallow away from the bank to the safety of the cold water.
Ellie never saw the animal. There were a few good shots, but I kept one for this blog. It's watching warily, plotting its escape.