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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Adjustable Dog Seat Belt

“Oh the horror!” I shrieked.

As would any dog owner that uses Face Book and has seen the above picture of a terrifying  front end collision and a dog,  sitting pretty in the back seat of a car, wearing the Adjustable Dog Seat Belt. This combination gives the impression that the dog has escaped becoming a warm blooded torpedo moving at the speed of sound through the car’s windshield.  

“Whoa, I need one of these!”  I and every other dog loving American tells himself.

I was about to take a trip from MN to PA, and was going to be bringing a service dog in training, Eddie, along for the ride. It would be  the first such trip he was going on with me, and   let’s face it, nothing says, ‘take caution’ more than traveling with an animal that will eventually have a value of thirty grand! This is not my dog, so in my mind, extra precaution needed to be taken. 

 I happily placed my order with the company for one belt and received it shortly before my trip. I put it with the items that were to be set up inside the car. You know, the valuable items, water, tea, snacks, blankets, aspirin and all that would be required for a 20 hour drive.
 I also happened to have had an extra seat belt /harness contraption made for dogs which I also packed in the car.  That particular seat belt needed to be hooked to a sturdy clip which was stuck in between the car’s back seat and it was not all that convenient to get your hands in and out of. The adjustable Dog Seat Belt I just ordered, easily hooked directly into the seat belt latch of the car which was so much more convenient.

The big day came when the traveling across the states was to begin.  We drove through MN, and WI, without incident. Then we got to Chicago, IL, land of the $1.50 toll booths seemingly every ten miles!
Hey Chicago, why not just give us a ticket to hand in at the end of our trip to cover all those tolls?  Seriously, I thought the states would have kept up with modern times of  speed and convenience! Think of the money you would save on the salaries of those booth attendants, that, by the way, seem none to happy to be working there in the first place.

Anyway, as we came into the cash line of the first toll booth, our tires struck those little ruts they put in roadways to let drivers know they are veering off the highway.
 Floovb, floovb, vwomp ,vwomp, vwomp.  Only this time it was rut after constant rut to remind you to slow you down as you approached the toll booth. It sounded like we had flattened a tire!

BAM!  Eddie’s face was pretty close to my own as he hurled himself toward the passenger seat trying to escape the noise of the road to the safety of his foster Mom’s lap! 

Thankfully, he was wearing that seat belt I just got in the mail which prevented him from becoming a lap ornament!
What a surprise his actions would be to an unsuspecting driver if he were loose in the car!  

As we traveled through the change hogging state of IL, and all those after it, making many potty stops along the way, that seat belt I was so thankful for at that Chicago toll booth, began to give me cause for concern.

Three different times on our many stops to rest areas, I found that the seat belt was undone and Eddie was basically loose in the seat.  The car was packed to the hilt so he only had the area of one of the back passenger seats to lay in, (2ft by 2 ft) so it would have been hard to tell if he was freely moving around.  The first time I noticed it, I thought maybe I didn’t fasten it correctly before we left, though I was sure that I had pulled on it to check.    After finding this undone the first time, I made sure to check and recheck it after I snapped it back into the latch by pulling it every which way but loose!

Twice after that, the same problem occurred. The only thing I can think of, is that Eddie was sitting or stepping on the release button of the car’s seat belt latch and was thereby releasing the belt.   From that third time on, as we traveled, I constantly climbed between the two front seats to pull on the belt to make sure it was still connected.

Lesson learned. Sometimes, when things seem like a hassle, we avoid them, thus the reason I used this strap, rather than the original dog seat belt which hooked to that little bar between the car's back seat. Sure my fingers would have gotten pinched hooking it up, and maybe even a few cuss words would have spewed forth over the inconvenience, but it would have been worth it knowing that he was restricted in the car.

Overall, I give this product a one paw up. The one paw is for the 'thought' of convenience only. Until this product is improved , I would not recommend it.

And yes, you can bet that I pinched my fingers and spewed a few cuss words before we set off for our trip back to MN as I changed to the original seat belt that clipped between the back seat!

Thanks to my Face Book friend, Anne Visser, for bringing this to my attention.
According to the Center for Pet Safety  crash test, it seems that even my back up safety belt may not have been a safe option either. It seems the only safety harness that passed the muster was the  Sleepypod Clickit Utility

to see the crash safety test results and video click  here

It also seems that crates did not fair well and the pet carriers seemed to be a real joke.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Supporting A DOG Like Eddie

Supporting A Dog Like Eddie

It has been just over a year since I have posted here about Eddie, a black Labrador Retriever who came to live with me at eight weeks of age. This is when we began our journey together of learning service dog work through the Helping Paws organization.

 Helping Paws places their puppies into the hands of  Volunteer Foster Home  Trainers, who in turn, agree to care for and train the pup for just over a two year period. Of course, this is all under the guidance of the organization and their trainers.  By doing this, it drastically cuts down the cost to those in need of a service dog. Cutting the costs from the double digits of thousands, to just hundreds, which covers costs for needed adaptive equipment.  Since the 1980's, Helping Paws has placed over 200 dogs with recipients.  Some dogs are sent home with Veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and others are sent  home to people with physical disabilities. They recently also implemented a new program placing dogs in care facilities.

When I wrote here regarding Eddie a year ago,  his  repertoire of cues was around 10. Since that time his repertoire has grown to  approximately 52 plus known cues. Eddie has learned cues such as 'snuggle', which  is resting his head on my shoulder, 'light' , in which he turns a  light switch on and off,  'push', in which he closes doors and drawers,  as well as a three step directive of 'get it, bring, give', which is the retrieval, bringing, and placing an item directly into my hand,  including the laundry from the dryer.

Eddie's most liked cues thus far, are,  'get it, bring , give, light, push and snuggle'. His dislikes so far are, under, drop, stay, in which he must go under a table and relax there until the owner is ready to leave an establishment.  He is a retriever after all, and he is always ready and willing to work. Relaxing is not a Retriever's strong  point!

So far, it has been an amazing journey, of course, one that will likely be saddened  when it comes time for Eddie to move to the next chapter of his life.  That being said, I have found that when you volunteer within the Helping Paws Organization, somewhere along the way,  you have symbolically invited an extended family to your Thanksgiving dinner table. A family which consists of trainers, assistant trainers, dog sitters, other foster home trainers, PR people, dog lovers, and past recipients of HP dogs, who are forever grateful for the work you put into one of these dogs, a dog like Eddie.

 Give To The Max day in Minnesota, is a time for all to open their hearts, and wallets, to give what they can to an organization that makes a difference in another's life and within the community.
 So, if you are a business looking to make that last tax deduction of the year, a group of students or co-workers taking a collection, or someone that just wants to support a well deserved organization, this is your chance to help!  In the spirit of giving,  please go to this link and make a difference in someone's life!

 To check for fun upcoming events such as the Tail  Waggin' Dinner Auction go to this link

 Below, enjoy this uplifting story of Jake, an up and coming Lawyer and his dog from Helping Paws.

Eddie will surely appreciate every dollar you can spare!    

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of Eddie's journey on his face book page