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Friday, October 9, 2009

Joe and Doc - a tracking team from Indiana; a vest for a blood tracking dog

The picture of Doc and Carl came from Joe Walters from Indiana, who wrote:

The tracking was excellent. After last blood nothing for about 75 yds. He went past the deer on the down wind side by about 10 yds and raised his head to wind it and circled back to it. Chewed on the tail. And after hunter gutted it out, I gave Doc a piece of liver and he chewed on it for a second and spit it out and started barking and wanting back on the deer. If you can't find Doc in the pic, look for his red harness.

Just few days later I talked to Susanne Hamilton who was on her way back from a weekend of blood tracking in Vermont. Susanne and Buster recovered two deer out of four, but what she raved most about was Buster's harness. Two of their calls were in a swamp, and in situations like this she finds this harness/vest invaluable. Actually, Susanne was the first who started to use this particular type of vest, and since then other handlers have started to use it too. The DiPietro family from Vermont swears by it. The picture below show Chris DiPietro handling Scout at the August workshop in NH, and Scout is sporting the red vest.

This particular harness/vest is carried by Ruffwear and more info and pics are posted here.

Handlers who use the vest for their dogs point out the advantages:

- ease of pulling the dog out of swamp or river thanks to the handle mounted on the top
- when a dogs pulls a lot, there is no pressure exerted on his windpipe as it is the case with a collar
- a dog's chest is somewhat protected from getting scratched and cut; as Susanne says: the soft underbelly flannel somehow keeps Buster from having his entire belly scratched up.

I am looking forward to hearing Andy Bensing's review of the custom made vest he ordered from Wild Boar USA/Ugly Dog Ranch store. One of his dogs has a pretty thin hair and gets all torn up on the chest, sides and belly when she squeezes through the briars. I think that his vest might provide a better protection from scratches than the Ruffwear harness.

Joe Walters sent me this e-mail after he had seen the post about the Ruffwear vest:
I was tracking a gut shot deer for a hunter the other morning and the track ended at a ditch. It only had about three or four inches of water in it so I picked Doc up by his harness and proceeded across. Under the water was about three feet of black muck and I went in over my "frog legs", chaps over knee boots. Doc came out unscaithed, but I came out smelling pretty awful and very wet. Oh, the joys of tracking. I love it. Joe and Doc

Susanne Hamilton added:

With all the tracking I've done, I have not had a single issue with injuries to the skin at all, (amazing enough no scratches whatsoever). The thing that's most valuable is the handle... heck I pick Buster up by it all the time. The other good thing is that the actual clip where I use the leash seems just in the right place to relieve stress of the dogs back.
Buster has been less tired and less sore since using the ruffwear harness. Sometimes too much harness can cause rubbing, so until the new vest is proven and put through the ringer, like the ruffwear one has, and by several trackers, I think it's not really right to say that Andy's vest is going to be even better.

It looks like handlers love the Ruffwear harness/vest.

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