Hi. I’m Colt, and I’m a gearaholic. You also might call me an enabler—one of my favorite things to do is help people find just the right gear and accessories for them and their dog. Some things, people actually need, like some of the equipment I will be talking about in this post. Other things we may not need in the sense of not being able to go on without them, but they’re really fun to have anyway. I am the absolute wrong person to consult if you want to be convinced not to buy something.
Since a post about all my favorite vendors for service dog equipment and dog gear in general would probably be the length of a Robert Jordan novel, for this first post I’ve decided to focus on two makers of top-quality service dog gear: DD Service Dog Designs and Snowflake Craft. (Full disclosure: Yes, I buy a lot of stuff from both these wonderful ladies, and I’m proud to call them my friends. Nerissa Cannon, owner of Snowflake Craft, is also a board member of Growing Up Guide Pup.)
DD Service Dog Designs makes some of the best, lightest, and most comfortable mobility harnesses you can find. I used to use a basic assistance harness from Bold Lead Designs exclusively—while also a high-quality piece of equipment, these harnesses can be a bit bulky, especially if your dog has a preposterously deep chest. While lighter than most leather mobility harnesses, they still weigh a significant amount. I thought this harness was the be all, end all until I got my DDSDD harness.
The DDSDD harnesses do everything a heavier, bulkier leather harness does, only they’re incredibly light, low-profile, easy to clean—I could go on and on. I almost never use my leather harness anymore. Each DDSDD harness is custom-made to your dog’s measurements, which is crucial when you have a dog who isn’t Lab- or Golden-shaped. They’re fleece lined, so you can jazz up your harness with some color, or keep it very monochromatic (the better to accessorize with multicolored pull straps and other items!). You also get to choose what is embroidered on the front of your dog’s harness—most people go with the usual “Service Dog” but having “Do Not Distract” right on your dog’s chest is another option.
These harnesses also come in both a straight front and a Y-front design. Most dogs show a distinct preference for one over the other, though this varies from dog to dog. Kaline is clearly much happier in his Y-front harness—he finds it easier to trot as he’s leading me along. And though he was comfortable in his leather harness once I got it sized properly, nothing compares to the comfort of his DDSDD harness. He barely even knows it’s on.
DDSDD also makes fantastic, customizable vests. While stand-alone capes are always an option, my favorite is to get the “convertible” capes—these can either be attached to the back of one of the harnesses (more pockets: always better), or they can be used on their own to mark a working dog. Amanda is incredibly accommodating to crazy patch addicts (me) who constantly send vests back to her to have more patches sewn on without messing up the pockets. Kaline has three convertible capes in blue, black, and red, classic service dog colors, so I can always color-coordinate his gear. That may not sound important to everyone, but trust me, it’s important to a lot of handlers.
And that’s where a craftsperson like Nerissa of Snowflake Craft comes in. Snowflake Craft offers a large, dare I say insane, variety of both pet dog and service dog items. And starting in 2017, 5% of the purchase price of all service dog items will go into a gear scholarship fund to which handlers in need can apply.
For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at: service dog law, service dog etiquette, service dog puppy raiser, guide dog, puppy in training.