Puppy Safety: Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Harness

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Ya know what happens when you spend two hours watching crash test videos involving dogs? You spend $80 on the one harness that didn’t send a test dummy flying through the air.

That’s how Bailey ended up with a Sleepypod ClickIt Sport harness.

The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and Subaru of America last month released the results of its crate and carrier safety tests. Sponsoring these tests is one of the million reasons why I love owning a Subaru and probably wouldn’t purchase any other car. It’s also what made this report so damn disappointing.

Anyway…in a nutshell, CPS crash tested some of the most popular carriers and crates used by pet owners. Just about all of them failed miserably. Crates and carriers are good to keep your pet from being a driving distraction, but very few of them will keep your pet safe should you get into an accident. Not only can your dog get hurt, but your dog can hurt you as she flies through the car.

Harnesses aren’t any better. We’ve seen this for ourselves the few times I needed to stop short while traveling with Bailey. She often slipped forward, landing in the space between the front and back seats. I hated it, but I had read in numerous places that no harnesses fully kept your dog secure during a crash. Knowing that they all sucked, we went with what worked best in terms of comfort.

That’s until I saw the crash tests.

Due to the video settings, I can’t embed them here. You can check them out for yourself using this link.

Of all the harnesses tested, the Sleepypod ClickIt Utility was the only one that kept the test dog safe in a mock accident. The ClickIt Sport was later tested and performed just as well.

Chuck usually balks when I buy something for Bailey, but he didn’t bat an eye when I told him I was adding $80 to our existing credit card debt to purchase one of these harnesses for Bailey. Thinking about the expense logically, using our existing system should we get into a car accident and Bailey survive, treating her injuries would likely cost more than $80.

Our Personal Test Run

The ClickIt Sport comes in multiple colors, but I decided to go with bright orange because this harness since it will also be used as Bailey’s hiking harness. The orange will hopefully keep her from being mistaken for a deer while we’re in the woods. Considering where we go hiking, I don’t see this as a realistic threat, but it’s good to play it safe.

The harness has two reflective strips so I decided to start using it while we jog. As you may have read in last week’s post, we try our best to be visible when we go jogging in the early morning hours. Between the reflective strips and the bright color, it should help Bailey be seen when we go running.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

My only concern was the placement of the leash rings. They’re in the back up by the shoulders. I’m a big fan of the Easy Walk, which attaches in the front. This gives me a lot more control of Bailey’s movements and generally keeps her from choking herself should she get too excited and start lunging forward. Generally, back attachments encourage pulling so they’re discouraged by science-based trainers.

In practice, though, I found that Bailey’s leash manners are good enough that I haven’t had any problems with pulling and the harness gives me more control than I had expected.

We finally got to take it for a test drive Labor Day weekend with a trip to Goodberry’s for ice cream (we went at like 8:30 hence the dark photos). Bailey doesn’t love car rides likely because she still gets somewhat car sick. She’s used to a huge range of motion that allows her to sit, stand, lay down in funny positions, and ball the seat cover into a little pillow.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

The ClickIt Sport cuts down on this range of motion, which sucks for Bailey, but it’s what will keep her safe. She can sit and lay down just fine, but she won’t be able to stand and walk around. This is fine on short trips, but we’ll have to make sure to give her more stretch breaks when we stop.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

She did get herself a bit tangled when I opened the door at our destination. She learned pretty fast and when we got home she waited patiently for me to unbuckle her.

Downsides

Like everything, it comes with a few downsides.

Price: It’s freaking expensive. Worth the price? Sure. But expensive is expensive.

Sizing: Be sure to measure your dog to ensure you get the right size. Bailey is a bit oddly shaped. She’s small for a Lab and is always too big for a medium but too small for a large. The harness can be adjusted, but I feel like you need to be an engineer to tighten and loosen the straps. There’s a video on the website, which you may have to watch like 10 times.

Leash Ring Placement: Bailey has good leash manners so this is turning out to be a minor problem for us, but dogs that are still in training with a front-clasp harness may not benefit from having the rings in the back. Changing harnesses once you reach your destination would be a raging pain in the ass. You could, in theory, put another harness over it, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about that if I were a dog.

I don’t see any of these issues existing if your dog uses just a collar or a Gentle Leader.

Final Verdict

Overall, I really like this harness. I wouldn’t use it for casual walks around my neighborhood, but it works well for jogging in the early morning. Bailey gives it a thumbs down for range of movement in the car, but I give it a thumbs up for keeping her safe. Once you get the sizing right, it’s easy to put on and easy to secure in the car. While not in our budget, it was worth the extra debt as it should hopefully prevent even higher vet bills should we get into an accident.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

If you’re going to swing by Amazon to purchase one for your pup, do me a solid and use my affiliate link. The price is the same for you, but I get a little pocket change which I can use to spoil my dog pay my bills. Thanks!

#FitnessFriday: Running Gear Rundown

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I look ridiculous when I run.

I look ridiculous in the same way most people don’t look their best when they’re exercising. On top of that, I use an obscene amount of running gear just for a three-mile run. I’m not marathon training, so why all the gear? There’s a method to my madness, I swear.

Let’s break it down:

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

The majority of my running gear is related to running with a dog. When I run 5k races without her, I use a fraction of this stuff. I’m trying to keep us safe and I’m a responsible dog owner so all of this junk serves a purpose.

Leash

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I hate holding things when I run. I hate when my hands get hot and sweaty. Enter the Stunt Puppy Hands-Free Dog Leash. After my brother-in-law died last year, my in-laws gave us a few of his dog things. They still have his awesome pup, Munchy, but Sean used this leash when he took her running. My in-laws take Munch on daily walks, but running they are not. Thinking I could use it, they passed it on to me. I love that it leaves my hands completely free, and I don’t have to worry about her running off while I’m picking up some poop or I’m otherwise distracted.

Some downsides: Bailey is a pretty good runner in that she doesn’t really get distracted when we’re moving at a good pace. But sometimes, she gets a whiff of something and she stops short. Dog owners know what I’m talking about. Because the leash is around your waist,  the sudden jerk to a stop can be downright painful. It’s also harder to remove the leash should you be in a situation where you need to be separated from your dog. I don’t want to be attached to my dog if she’s in a fight with another dog. Overall, though, I’m happy with it.

Poop Bags

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left poop on the side of the road. It was always because I was out of bags. I really try to never find myself without a poop bag (Click here to read why dog poop isn’t fertilizer). These holders are a dime a dozen. I got the blue one as part of a gift bag doing a 5k and I purchased the green one after Bailey first came home. I like the green one from Earth Rated because it has a little clip that makes it easier to hold a full bag, but it’s plastic and I hate how it swings around when I run. It’s been since moved to Bailey’s walking leash.

I’m a fan of Earth Rated bags because they use less plastic than the other kind. Realistically, these bags won’t biodegrade any faster than a plastic shopping bag, but they’re made with less raw material, which makes my hippy heart somewhat happy.

Running Belt

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I initially wanted a running belt that could hold pepper spray, treats and my cell phone, but it’s really just turned into a glorified treat bag. I like buying some things online, but others I need to touch and feel. Running belts were one of them. I purchased this one from Nathan at Dick’s because I had yet to discover the awesomeness of REI and I’m sure there I could have found a better selection. It’s small and light, but large enough to hold a bunch of dog treats and my little can of pepper spray.

Treats were more of a necessity when I was teaching Bailey leash manners, but now they’re just for sporadic reinforcement of those leash manners. Now, we’re working more on staying focused when we come across people or another dog, which doesn’t happen often at 6am. I also bring a couple of large biscuit treats in case she needs something a little more high value on which to focus. If we don’t need it, I give it to her at the end of our run.

Phone Case

When I bought my running belt I was also still going to the gym at NC State. Even though I had bought it with the intention of putting my phone in it, I realized that I wasn’t going to use it if I was working out at the gym. I ended up purchasing an arm band from Sporteer. The one I have currently is made for a Samsung Galaxy4, but my new iPhone 5S fits in it just fine. I like that it zips closed to protect it from the rain, but don’t expect to get too much done pressing those buttons. The plastic is pretty thick. It’s comfortable to wear and stays in place.

Pepper Spray

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

Aside from the occasional break-in, my neighborhood is pretty safe from scary men in white vans. It does, however, have far too many loose dogs running around. My feelings about that could take up 3,000 words so I won’t get into it, but I carry pepper spray with me in case Bailey and I are attacked by a dog. Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it and I hope I never will.

Headlamp

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As I’ve said a bazillion times before, I live in a neighborhood without sidewalks, which means I have to run in the street. For a large portion of the year, it’s dark at 6am. I enjoy running that early because there are so few cars on the road. Naturally, I want to make sure those few cars see me. I used to use these little blinky lights I got at the pet store, but they use one of those obscure flat batteries and I always forget to order them.

My farther-in-law happened to give me this Energizer headlamp a few months back and it does the trick. For right now I use the red-light mode as it’s not completely dark when I go running, but in a week or two, I’ll likely switch over to the flashlight mode. I attach it to the belt of my hands-free leash. It uses three AAA batteries, which don’t require any special Amazon orders. It’s a little on the heavy side compared to the other lights, but it offers way more visibility.

Harness

The one piece of running gear I didn’t talk about is Bailey’s harness. We just invested in a Sleepypod ClickIt Sport and I’ll be dedicating an entire post to it. I really like it has a running harness but have yet to take her in the car with it, which is the main reason why we bought it. Once I do that, I’ll share with you my thoughts.

 

Got a piece of running gear that you recommend? Share it in the comments. 

 

Sometimes, Running Just Sucks

Sometimes, running just sucks.

Sometimes you just feel like crap and you want to quit and cry and stuff your face with Bojangles chicken biscuits.

Sometimes you ask yourself why the fuck you’re doing this in the first place and you feel like a damn failure.

Sometimes, running just sucks.

That’s how I felt during my most recent 5k, which, oddly enough, was to benefit an afterschool program designed to empower girls and help them grow into strong women.

I felt far from empowered.

The race came at the end of a particularly rough week, fitness wise. The holiday weekend threw off our grocery schedule and I bought lunch most of the week. The weather wasn’t too great so I only got one run in and it was only a mile before it started to pour. I got some weight training in, but the lack of sleep kept me from giving it my all. I found myself yawning and falling asleep between sets.

On top of all that, I gained back two pounds, once again putting me in this battle with the same five pounds that I can’t seem to shake.

With about 2,000 people registered for the race that included many, many children, I found myself in the front of the group with the rest of the competitive runners. Normally, I put myself towards the back because I’m slow and I guess sort of a safety hazard for people who are faster. For the sake of my emotional stability, I should have done that again.

It didn’t take long for the stroller parents to catch up, despite having started after me. I simultaneously hate and admire stroller parents. I am in absolute awe of anyone that can run while pushing a stroller. Your fitness level is something that I strive for. I was once that stroller baby, my mom carrying me and a stroller down the three flights of steps of our Queens apartment so she could go jogging.

I WANT to be the stroller pusher one day, but man, you guys really know how to make one feel like a fat piece of shit. And, it’s not your fault. This is completely my issue and my own self-consciousness and blaming you for my feeling fat and out of shape is totally unfair. Often, stroller parents are inspiring, but on that day, they were not.

Soon, after the stroller parents passed, I started to see the children run around me. There’s nothing like having a 10-year-old run past you, clearly not struggling as much as you. Even when they slow down to walk that quick sprint put them so far ahead that they’ll finish 15 minutes before you. Imagine watching dozens of kids and their parents run around you, their little legs propelling them forward.

It becomes this, “wow, I really suck” moment.

Feelings like that are pretty irrational when you think about it, but they’re feeling nonetheless, and they can have a really bad effect on your psyche as you attempt to do something challenging.

Suddenly, everything I felt bad about just came to a head. I became angry at myself for not having the discipline to eat right. I felt like a failure because by this spring I planned to be down 25 pounds to a mid-point goal, but I’ve essentially been the same weight since December.

Instead of focusing on the fact that I was running a 5k, had lost a consistent 12 pounds, and made vegetables part of my regular diet, my mind swirled around all of my failures.

As my calves burned and I tried to breathe through the third cramp in my side, I just wanted to stop. I just wanted to quit. I just wanted to say fuck it. There was no song on my playlist that could give me the bump I needed.

I kept going because I knew that I’d feel even more like shit if I didn’t. I’d end up losing it in the middle of some Durham neighborhood in front of 2,000 people and I’d feel like an ass.

Then, as I entered the last half mile, my feet started to go numb, which has never happened before and suddenly I wondered if this was some sign that I was going to pass out. I kept going, finished the race and found C in the crowd. He listened as I let out all my feelings, allowing the tears to come, thankful that my red face would hide how upset I was.

Despite how terrible I felt, my race time didn’t really suffer that badly.

I finished in 39:51 for an average pace of 12:55 per mile.

In March, I hit my best time finishing in 38:54 for an average pace of 12:32 per mile.

I wish I had some inspirational ending for this post, but I really don’t. Sometimes feeling like shit is just feeling like shit and isn’t the epiphany you need to fix whatever it is that’s keeping you from accomplishing your goal.

A day later, I don’t really feel inspired. I don’t feel like saying, “Suck it up, Monti” or any other self-affirming kick in the ass.

It’s more like, “Well, that sucked. Tomorrow is a new day. Start again and try your best.”

So, tomorrow is a new day. I’m going to start again and just try my best.