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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 The product description will sound out of date to many modern dog lovers because of such phrases as “enabling canine and master to maintain a walking regimen in inclement weather.”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 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

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