Guide Dog Har-Vest

Late last year I got the call for a dog modeling job (in this case, I got to bring along good ol’ Boomer, a wonderful yellow lab who simply does anything I ever ask him with such good cheer he is a regular in my life! He probably had more fun last summer).

In this new job, Boomer had to act like a seasoned guide dog with a middle aged male model who had to act like a blind man who worked alongside a seasoned guide dog in a downtown Cleveland photography studio.

Trust me, when you are handling dogs in the world of modeling when neither man nor beast is trained to lead the blind or, in this case, even blind and comfortable with dogs, you earn your money!

After we finished a slew of shots in just the leather guide dog harness and the Powers That Be were pleased as punch with the results, Boomer got retrofitted to his newly introduced stiff leather guide dog harness when I slipped a large Har-Vest underneath and we snapped some more pics.

Suddenly I saw the possibilities of merging these two products, much like I had merged no pull harnesses and vests/backpacks lo these many years ago that spawned my entry into patentable inventing and gave birth to Har-Vest. But other projects going on at that time put that thought on hold for awhile, or at least in a different place in my brain. “How many times can you merge products?”, I’m thinking.

So now, nearly four months later, a gestational period for my own mind to be sure, a new epiphany came in my quest to show the potential for adapting Har-Vest beyond its bountiful capacity for working and service dogs. After playing around a bit with various straps to create a similar harness handle without the leather harness part, I finally broke down and ordered a 16″ bridge handle (based on measuring distance from side o-ring to my hand at my side)and, “snap”, as my teenaged daughter might say, I not only had the adaptation I wanted, but with a little tweaking I managed to keep it stable and began working it on Lily while out and about.

I’m happy to report I’m THRILLED with the results. While Har-Vest’s handle is parallel to spine and works well for many I of course wanted MORE.

I always start these modification/adaptation quests for Har-Vest with my own companion dogs. For Lily I see great benefits indeed with this handle. She can have greater off leash freedom as her recall is fantastic and if she needed to be controlled, I could take hold of the handle and keep her right at my side. The added benefit to that proximity to my side is her reduced reactivity to those distractions (i.e., dogs she decides are socially retarded or just frankly piss her off)! I hadn’t even counted on that but thinking to my own Pillar II: Distance, I don’t know why it should surprise me!

In addition, I can tweak the tension so she can help pull me along on those inclines I encounter on our walks when I want a little help. I’m ready for San Francisco now!