I’ll be honest here; I. Love. Drafting. It is just outright fun!

Squirrel?!

My introduction to it started with Holly. I found a relatively cheap cart and harness (custom made for a female Newfie actually) several years ago. Once Holly got the idea she took to it like a fish to water. She absolutely LOVED being allowed to pull something down the street, plus the wonderful benefit of lots of praise and cookies. With a little work she easily was hauling about 50lbs of groceries, or dog food, or firewood home.

039

Newfies are drafting dogs. That’s part of their job. So I have been happily anticipating the day when I could really start working with Bri on her draft training in earnest. I introduced her to the cart when she was a baby, started harnessing when she was a teenager, and started actually working on the hitching when she was over a year. Now that she is two she is officially good to go! Physically mature enough to start pulling weight and going for distances that will be required for her tests and for our everyday tasks.

However, there was a little hitch in our draft training.

I noticed, starting when she was about 9 months old, that the harness I had did not seem to be fitting correctly. It was very odd to me, since that harness was originally for a full grown female Newfie about the same size that Bri has matured to be. I fiddled, I twiddled, I tried readjusting, I even thought about ripping out some seams and adding extra length the chest where it appeared to be pinching terribly.

At last, in bafflement, thinking that there would be no other option than to order a new harness, I looked up how to correctly measure for a Siwash harness. There was a tutorial on YouTube. Watching closely I started measuring Bri, then, when the demonstrator was putting her harness on her own dog to demonstrate proper fit the realization hit me between the eyes. Such an epiphany, and far more embarrassing than even my recent grooming realization.

I had been putting on the harness upside down.

Yes folks, somehow, for the past several years, Holly was pulling serious weight with an upside down harness, and Bri, bless her poor soul, was learning in it. My guilt has been overwhelming. Especially since now I realize why Bri didn’t have quite the enthusiasm for it that Holly had. Holly, sweet, determined girl, pushes her head through the loop whenever I pull it out in the hopes that it will be treat/praise/pull time.

Right way up now...

Right way up now…

Putting the harness on the right way has made all the difference. Bri is comfortable and happy with a harness that fits perfectly, Holly is pleased to have the padding, and I… well… I feel terribly guilty for my owner stupidity but incredibly relieved that it was fixed before I ever really got serious with Bri’s draft work, or, gosh forbid, showed up to a test with my equipment on upside-down.

My little draft dog, correctly rigged.

My little draft dog, correctly rigged.

Until Later,

Kat, Holly & Bri

Advertisements