“ Manufacturer: Trixie / Type: Dog Equipment - Car Harness „
It was our dooyoo team's child safety hints that prompted me to write about safety for my two canine wards, Moses and Mollie, which in a way could also be a useful aspect of child safety in cars, albeit a sideways glance at the topic.
In November, twenty one years ago on my nephew's 21st birthday, of all days, I drove a few miles from home to a car service station to fetch some equipment for my car. I usually took my Cocker spaniel, Nelson, on short trips, but fortunately on this occasion left him at home.
On my return journey, an Esso petrol tanker jackknifed as it came careering down the hill towards me and collided with my car head on.
Had my dog been in the car on that day, he would most certainly have been catapulted straight through the windscreen and killed outright.
An even worse scenario springs to mind in which an unsecured animal, whether it is cat, dog or person, when thrown forward with such force, would cause a fatal injury to itself and any front seat passenger. Such cases have been reported.
It was that awful thought and macabre vision in my mind's eye of what could have happened, that made me consider buying a proper car harness for my dogs. I was never keen on the rear metal grill fitments to prevent a dog being thrown forward in an accident - I imagined - a gruesome picture of them being forced through the grids and emerging the other side like minced meat. My overactive imagination thus prevented me from purchasing one. Having said that, a member has since informed me that dogs have certainly be killed after being thrown through the grid in an accident.
Fortunately, by the time I was able to drive again, dog car- harnesses had made a timely appearance onto the market.
The first harness I purchased was one with a nice wide, comfortable, foam padded chest piece. At the top, along the back was an eight-inch loop of seat-belt strapping, stitched to the harness, through which the passenger seat belt could be thread and secured in the usual fashion by the side of the seat.
This was perfect for Nelson, who was not in the least bit perturbed when strapped to his seat. However, when I got Moses, my Collie cross, this harness became redundant for a while, for reasons I shall explain later.
I needed to find a more suitable one for him, or not take him anywhere in the car.
~~~~The Trixie, Dog Car-Harness~~~~
All dog harnesses embrace the pet's body rather than its neck.
The main differences between ordinary harnesses and car-safe ones, is in the structure of the front chest-strap of the safety harness, which is not only wider than usual, but also thickly padded with foam.
The ability to secure the harness to a car seat-belt system is an essential feature unique to dog car-harnesses.
The method of securing the Trixie harness to the seat belt system differed from the one I used for Nelson's, in that instead of a loop of seat-belt webbing through which the passenger seat belt is thread before clicking it into the car fixture. The Trixie harness has a strong, semi-circular, metal hoop firmly stitched into the top of the harness, to which is clipped, in the same fashion as a dog lead, an adjustable length of strapping with a t-shaped metal piece at the other end which is inserted directly into the seat-belt socket situated by the passenger seat. This length of strapping is also intended to serve as a leash.
In summary then, with the former safety harness it was 'Clunk-Click-every-trip.' With the latter, it was Clip-Click-every-trip.'
The Trixie is available in three sizes. (S) for small breeds such as Dachshunds, miniature poodles and Jack Russels. (M) is for medium sized breeds such as Cocker spaniels, Border collies and Standard poodles.
and (L) is for large dogs such as Labradors, Retrievers, Rotties and Alsatians.
Each harness is equipped with very strong, plastic quick-release fasteners and is made of tough, yet soft, adjustable strapping.
However, there are some limitations. This particular style is not suitable for Volvo or Ford cars. The metal t-bar will not slot into those car's seat-belt-sockets.
There is no guarantee that the dog fitted with a Trixie harness will not be injured in the event of an accident, for the belt is designed to ensure the dog does not jump out of the car as soon as the door is opened, and to prevent it being thrown so far forward that it will crash through the windscreen on impact.
The animal is not secured to the seat, but just to the seat belt fixture, so it will in all probability be thrown to the cabin floor, if the leash-strap is too long.
I overcame the latter problem by clipping and extra leash to the metal hoop on the harness and looping it around the headrest, leaving enough length for Moses to lie on the seat without being too restricted, but short enough to prevent him sliding off the seat should, heaven forbid, an impact occur.
~~~~~Reason Why The Trixie Was Better For Moses~~~~
I am sure you must be wondering why I bought the Trixie when I already owned a perfectly good car-harness for dogs. Well....Let me tell you a story.
When Moses was a puppy and old enough to enjoy longer walks, I decided to combine the joys of the countryside with the trauma of a car ride sometimes experienced by pups on their first few car journeys.
The association of happy frolics in fields soon negates their fear of cars - well that is the theory.
It was a lovely spring morning, ideal walkies weather, so I put the original safety harness on Moses and 'clunk-clicked' him onto the back seat. He seemed reasonably happy with the situation, albeit a little excitable at the newness of his adventure, yet calm enough for me to feel I could drive off without him being too stressed. At least he was secure and would not be able to leap onto my lap and cling to the steering wheel, as one of my little canine friends once did - before the advent of seat belts.
When I started the engine, he became a little agitated, but after a short time settled down, before I slowly drove off.
All seemed to be going well, Moses was nice and quiet. I could not see him in my mirror, so assumed he had lain down - what a star!
I thought wrong! - suddenly I heard this little whimpering "Excuse me, but I want your attention," sound coming from the back seat, I still couldn't see him in the mirror, so stopped in the nearest lay-by to comfort him.
Ok - so I'm a bit of a marshmallow when it comes to animals - too soft for my own good critics say.
On this occasion though, I was glad my heart ruled my head. When I turned to see what was causing Moses to whimper, I saw he was completely tangled up in the seat belt, so much so that he had managed to pin himself firmly in the lying position on the seat, there was no way he could move anything other than his eyes.
He peered up at me looking so forlorn and appealing. Bless.
A picture to melt the iciest of hearts.
Somehow, he had performed a manoeuvre that it would be impossible to train a dog to do. He had climbed in, under and around the car seat-belt, which was threaded through his harness loop, tying himself up in knots; needless to say, I sat him on the front seat, for the remainder of the journey, so that I could make sure he did not repeat his Houdini imitation.
He was never completely happy with that harness; perhaps the memory of his first battle with it remained, so when I saw the Trixie, costing I think around £5 - £6.00 at the time. I decided it was worth a try.
The first time I tried this out on Moses, even though he felt more settled and able to lie down without restriction, I was not confident that he would remain on the seat, should I need to stop the car suddenly. I visualised him sliding head first to the floor or bashing his head on the dashboard or passenger seat.
If I shortened the harness leash too much, he would not be able to lie down.
That is when I decided to add another leash to the metal hoop and secure it to the headrest, thereby allowing freedom of movement, yet ensuring he remained on the seat at all times.
All things considered, I prefer the Trixie, perhaps it is because I know that Moses is more comfortable and stress free with this harness. It is simple and quick to release from the seat belt socket and the leash strap makes and excellent lead, whilst the additional leash is left looped around the headrest, ready to reattach when re-entering the car.
I often wonder how many lives this simple harness have already saved and will save in the future. My dogs are safe... are yours? I am constantly amazed at the number of people still allowing their dogs to roam freely on the back seat of their cars. It makes me angry every time I see such carelessness, especially now when there are so many of this type of harness available.