Saturday, March 7, 2015

The tale of car harness woes

Since I've been posting infrequently you don't have to read back far to know that I had purchased a car harness and discovered the first time I used it that the strap that connects the harness to the car seat belt was sold separately.  If I had actually concentrated on reading and understanding the details on the back of the package before I bought the harness I would have realized that I needed the strap, too.  On our way home that day we did stop and buy the necessary strap.
This not-so-great cell phone picture expressed exactly what Bentley was thinking that morning, "MOM, why have you locked me in over here?  I ALWAYS sit on  your lap in the car! How could you do this to me?"
The next time I tried to use it was when we went to the show in Austin in February.  I put down an old, soft towel in the seat for him to snuggle into, hooked him up and off we drove in the pre-dawn darkness.  After some staring at me he did curl up and snooze.  It was peaceful driving in the dark that morning, just me and the dog.  No radio, no conversation.  I wondered if he realized that he was more comfortable over there and actually able to sleep.

Just as we entered Austin the sun came up.  I turned off the freeway to avoid the awful Austin traffic and was winding around to get to the facility when Bentley put his front paws on the console and gave me the MOM look.  I was surprised that the harness allowed that much movement.  But that wasn't the case.  When we reached the facility I really looked at him -  he was out of the harness.  How did he do that?  Little Houdini!

When we were ready to head home I put him back in the harness, still wondering how he had wiggled out.  It was a little loose, so I decided when we got home I would tighten it up a little.  Meantime, Houdini practiced his magic again and by the time I got to the freeway he had his front paws on the console and the harness was off.  As I waited through the last traffic light I helped him over the console and he settled, quite happily, into my lap for the remainder of the trip home.

Last Wednesday night we headed out to the little ring training/practice we sometimes go to.  There was yet another cold front blowing through and I knew we would have to walk across a windy parking lot to get inside so I put his little red jacket on him and then put the harness over it.  I had tightened the straps a little and with the thickness of the fleece jacket it was snug.  No escaping this time.  We drove over to the class, but the facility was closing up (I should have called to confirm since there was a local show going on this week and everyone was already there) so I turned around and we drove back home. 

Imagine my surprise when we pulled into the garage and I came around to his side of the car to let him out and instead found a little dog hopelessly tangled in a show lead and a car seat harness.  He was in a mess.  The strap was in such a bind that my weak fingers could not get it to unclasp.  The clasp on the harness was even tighter and the show lead was way too tightly untangled to get it loose.  As I wrestled with the mess I had the thought of having to figure out a way to safely cut him out!  I finally managed to get the jacket undone and pulled through the mess which gave a little room to work with (the lead was still threaded through the jacket neck, but at least the bulk of the fleece was out).  I somehow got his legs through the harness and pulled it over his head.  He was free!
The tangled mess after I got Bentley out!
Once again I re-read the package instructions.  I realized that the diagram showed attaching the strap to the upper portion of the seat belt; I had fastened it to the lower lap belt.  Ah!  maybe that is the problem.

So, when we headed out to the show this weekend once again I hitched him in and attached the strap as shown in the diagram.  We've had short rides back and forth to the event facility and on each one he has laid down and snoozed.  In fact on the way home today I put him in the seat and didn't bother to put on the harness.  He stayed on his side of the car and laid down and fell sound asleep, he was so tired from the show!  But I need to try it out on a longer ride to see if he really is comfortable and if it doesn't tangle up again!  I have a suspicion that this harness is really designed for a larger dog and just may not work for us.  We'll see.


  1. I have Ruffwear's new car harness and I couldn't be happier with it!

    1. Thanks! I'm going to take a look at it - you always have good recommendations on your blog!

  2. I neeeeeddd one of these for my younger dog. My older dog is happy to curl up and go to sleep when we go somewhere. Zeke either has to be kenneled or bounced around the car for 30 minutes before he settles in my lap and rides there the rest of the time. The funny part is he's the first one to jump in the car!