Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blog Post for ADBC: A Few of My Favorite Things

For the Eleventh Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, which was started by Sharon Wachsler of After Gadget, I will share a few products that have been helpful to me in working with my service dog.  

Blog carnival banner with purple doggy

The Andis ProClip Ultraedge Shaver and Oster TDQ Blade

My dog has tight poodle curls that look like a fresh salon permanent when he's freshly washed.  I love that as a multigeneration Labradoodle with a hair coat that he's hypoallergenic for both me and others with severe allergies.  He also doesn't shed--his hair grows like human hair.  That helps clothing, carpets, and floors stay clean longer.  The tradeoff is that his coat mats very badly after a few months, and his coat periodically requires a lot of care.  If it reaches a certain length, it will tangle and not dry out after a bath.

Blue Andis UltraEdge Clipper

One of my favorite new tools is my Andis ProClip UltraEdge shaver, used with the Oster Take Down Quick/TDQ blade, an extra wide style that clips very close to the skin.  Sharon Wachsler introduced me to the clipper, and it has been a life saver over our old, supposedly good one--and a back saver as well!  It will also save us lots of money over the years on professional grooming, as we'd have been forced to go to that soon. The special blade cuts through the matting without having to detangle tiny painful snarls first, and because it's so wide and has two rows of teeth with different lengths, the blade also takes less time.
TDQ blade

It used to take us six hours of work over several days to shave down our poor doggy after dematting, valuable hours we needed for other tasks.  Now it takes us one hour for his whole body without dematting first.  We still give extra attention to his ears, tails, face, and paws on a different day. He can go much longer between cuts, and his fur doesn't get tangled.  Happy dog, happy people!

We send Sharon a huge thank you!  

First, a caveat/tip on leashes and elevators.  An elevator almost closed on my dog's leash while he'd exited just as my wheelchair stopped working.  He didn't do anything wrong--I'd told him to exit because I was anticipating to be right next to him.  Instead, he was on one side of the threshold, I was on the other, and I was barely able to kick the door open on time.  I've also tried it off leash and almost got separated because the door closes so fast.  Please be careful if no one is around an elevator to help--some elevator doors close too quickly, and in the first case turning my wheelchair very slightly brought it to a stop.  If you're at an unfamiliar elevator, you may want to open and let it close once so you can see how wide the door is, how fast the door closes, and how deep it is, how you have to maneuver.   Be ready to exit together, make sure your power chair is at the right speed and that you can quickly block the door if needed.  Side-by-side.  Please pass the word to other wheelchair SD teams.

Now for the fun part.

I love leashes, of all different kinds. One of my favorites is a Bamboo brand leash, which comes in a 6-foot length or a 3-foot length that have some additional length adjustability.  The leashes are nylon and have a clip that will fit into a seatbelt holder--to avoid choking, it's better to hook it into a D-ring on your dog's vest or a safety harness (these are available at Foster and Smith).  

Bamboo brand leash in blue, showing seat belt latch and nice pocket

If you remove the leash, you can hook the leash clips around the hole in the seatbelt latch.  And voila, you have a handy door pull to take with you everywhere!  While unfortunately Bamboo stopped making these leashes, they do show up on ebay periodically, and there are some off-brands that you can find there or other places on the web.

Recently I purchased a Partner Link wheelchair leash from Cody's Creations (the one offered in the giveaway).  This leash can be ordered in your choice of color.  Its particular advantage is that its very short length can keep your dog close in crowds and places where you need to be very close together.  Longer leashes can easily get tangled in a wheelchair's wheels when you're working closely, presenting a serious danger!  However, you can make the leash longer if you need it to be or so that your dog can recline easily when you stop and rest.  One caveat: unless you can enter a doorway or another narrow space side-by-side, you will need to remove the leash there, or extend it to its longer length so you don't choke your dog.
Partner Link - A Wheelchair Leash
Young, happy woman with power wheelchair, her Labrador service dog on a Partner Link leash

A different short leash served me well when I was training my puppy.  I have severe nerve pain in my left shoulder, the side on which my dog works.  So when my dog would periodically put some tension in the leash--not even necessarily pulling--I would have a lot of pain after walking with him for a while.  And the occasional strong pulls that a puppy will do before you give him redirection--well, those could injure me for a few days.  I found a shock absorbing, no-pull short leash by EZ Step that works.  Because of the bungee effect, it doesn't tangle in the wheels easily, though it can. It has an ergonomic grip and the shock/energy from any tugs or tension is distributed rather than transferred through to your arm.  Lovely!
Gold EZ Steps shock-absorbing leash

Another leash that I don't have yet but that other people love is the Bold Leash Designs convertible leash available on Etsy.  You can use it eight different ways, including at an 8-foot length, doubled up, or around your torso so it's hands free (important for those who stand with their service dogs).  I'd like one of these or a Buddy Leash--which goes around the waist.  I have got to order one of these soon!  It would make going up and down stairs much safer when I can do so.
Photo of brown leather Bold Design leash with gold hardware, with a diagram of the eight different possibilities
And, one more leash I'm interested in but haven't purchased yet, a Surf's Up! waterproof coil leash that won't ruin in wet weather or at the pool.  The coils prevent tangles.  I would love this leash in a shorter length for service dogs, who have to stay close to us--a 3-foot would be good.  This one extends to 6 feet, but some extend to 10 feet.
Yellow-green neon coil leash

For puppies who are in training and chewing, inexpensive leashes are great--you don't want your expensive leash that you need for outings chewed up while you think he's asleep or because you've become inattentive.  Keep the good leashes put out of reach, and watch him under that restaurant table.

Patches for Service Dog Vests
Creative Clam is a great resource for custom service dog patches.  She has many designs already available, but if you need to modify one, she can do that for you.  She has an amazing selection of patches, leash covers, and other identifiers for service dogs or emergency medical needs.  Very thoughtful products, with a great design.  Her patches have gone a long way to quickly communicating with others that my dog is not one who can be distracted by the public.  That's saved me a lot of energy!  The graphic designs are very clear, easy to read, and durable.
Circular medical alert patch with words "Medical Alert Dog/Do Not Distract" centered around a caduceus  
I hope some of these products are helpful to other people or give them ideas for products they would like to invent, hack, or find.  (If you love another leash, please share it with me!)

I would like to blog about a couple of terrific YouTube dog trainers soon--stay tuned!

Note: I have purchased the products that I mention; I have received no compensation for my reviews.

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