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Karen B. London
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The Dogbrella
Essential equipment or crazy contraption?

The search for perfect gifts for the holidays is on. I’m spending excessive amounts of time online and studying catalogs in order to succeed in this quest. Though I’ve found few gifts to give to family and friends, I have noticed that products for dogs are showing up in new places all the time. The most surprising pet product placement I’ve seen this year is the dogbrella in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog and on their website.

The dogbrella is just what it sounds like—an umbrella for dogs. It is inverted so that a person can hold the handle from above while the dogbrella protects a small dog from the rain. The leash attaches to the underside. The product description will sound out of date to many modern dog lovers because of such phrases as “enabling canine and master to maintain a walking regimen in inclement weather.”

My first thought was, “Really?” (It was late afternoon, which is when I’m least articulate.) What I meant by that was, “Do dogs really need an umbrella to go out in the rain?” Then I thought about all the dogs who don’t like the rain and hesitate to go out in it. With my Oregonian roots, I sometimes forget that there are dogs and people who not only notice the rain, but actually have an adverse reaction to it. Of course, the dogbrella won’t help dogs who dislike stepping on wet ground, but it offers protection for dogs who object to the water falling from the sky.

Though I had not thought about it, the catalog emphasizes the benefit for people, which is that the dog will not bring so much water into the home after the walk. Few of us love it when a dog comes inside and performs a satisfying shake to disperse all that wetness onto nearby furniture, windows, people and anything else in the house. (How dogs know how to choose the most damaging spot for this behavior is a mystery.) Nor do many of us enjoy the aroma of eau de dog, which can be as strong and long lasting as it is unpleasant.

Would you use (or have you already used) the dogbrella?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by linda | November 22 2011 |

The wackiest product I have seen is dog strollers! What is the point?

Submitted by Lisa Potter | November 22 2011 |

A couple of months ago I lost my first dog to cancer. What started out in the spring as a mild limp progressed to her not using her front leg at all. Unfortunately, we were never able to receive a definitive diagnosis until we had the leg removed and the joint biopsied, by which time it had spread to her lungs and lymph system. Over the summer as she had a harder and harder time getting around, both due to her leg and gradually losing energy and stamina due to the mass in her lung, I seriously thought about getting some sort of stroller or wagon to put her in just so she could still come along on hikes with my other dog. It got a little tough carrying a 40-lb. dog when she got too worn out to continue, but she still wanted to join us. Maybe a stroller isn't as silly as it seems.... : )

Submitted by Marian | November 23 2011 |

I once got into a conversation on the street with a woman who was pushing an old pug around in a stroller. At first my reaction was "weirdo" but when she told me how her pug wasn't able to easily walk anymore, but he was still a dog and loved to be outside and smell things and look around......well, I haven't been judgmental about the dogs-in-strollers thing anymore.

Submitted by Basil Brown | November 22 2011 |

Come on! They are dogs. They are supposed to get wet and muddy and have a grand old time outside. That's why smart humans keep a supply of towels by the back door. I really wouldn't want to live in a home with a dog who wanted to use a 'dogbrella'. I won't even get started on the dog strollers.

Submitted by Erin | November 22 2011 |

My dog HATES going outside in the rain! I would definitely give it a try! But, then again, she is also afraid of umbrellas. Hmmm...

Submitted by Lisa Potter | November 22 2011 |

I don't think that my dog would appreciate having that hovering above him. But then, he has no problem with rain unless it's really raining hard. In fact, we were out hiking in the rain this morning. I don't mind him shaking off all the water in the house since we come into the laundry room, but after a hike when he gets in the car and shakes it's a mess! That'll teach me to carry towels in the car!

Submitted by Frances | November 23 2011 |

As the owner of two tiny dogs who hate rain, living in the North West of England, where the rainfall is the same as in the Amazon rain forest, I briefly considered the Dogbrella! It's easier to just carry them out under an umbrella of my own, though - once away from the door they do the needful, and then race for home.

I think strollers are excellent for dogs with a disability, especially in multi dog households. But don't get me started on healthy toy dogs dressed like babies and pushed around in prams!

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