“ Brand: Up Country / Type: Dog Collar „
~ Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ~
I first spotted Up Country dog collars in a little pet shop when on holiday in northern California. They were far funkier than any collars I'd seen before and I thought they'd soften the blow for our pooch as we'd been away for some time. I bought two. Maybe it's just an American thing, but all the collars have names and are arranged into various collections. But if you're thinking pampered Manhattan lap dogs think again. One we bought has pink and orange flowers on a pink background. It's called Flower Power which seemed appropriate for California. The other, which we have since lost is called Orange Funky Circle. Pretty much the design is reflected in it's title. It might look a little psychotropic for some, but we thought it looked rather snazzy. Both, we hoped, would go well with our dog's yellow coat.
~ Sniff out a bargain ~
The other reason we liked this collection aside from the unusual colours were the materials. Most pet collars I've seen for sale are leather or faux leather, or at the other end rather cheap looking things which don't last long. Up Country collars fall somewhere in between. It would be pointless buying a leather collar for our dog, it just wouldn't be fit for purpose. In common with most Labradors, our dog's olfaction is of an Olympic medal winning standard. In real terms this means stopping to have a good sniff (her not me) at the ground every few yards when we're out walking. This isn't a problem in itself, it's just that she can't resist picking out the most disgusting smells. And then rolling in whatever has caused them. Many a time I've almost gagged at the sight of her running back with something like fox poo smeared on her head or neck. My dog needs collars that are both easy to wash and hardwearing. The two collars we bought proved to be both. We alternated the two Up Country collars Amber wore weekly for about two years before losing one of them. We decided to look online to see if we could source any more from the comfort of our home, and found the Up Country website.
Until I checked out their site, I had no idea how big a business dog accessories is. There must be well over 100 different collars to chose from on their site, as well as toys and beds for cats as well as dogs.
Some are typically American and didn't appeal to me but that's fair enough as the company are based in Rhode Island and the majority of their customers will be Stateside. Ones that probably appeal more over there are the Stars and Stripes one, the Halloween, Shamrock and Moose ones too. There's even a Star of David collar for those owners who don't want their pooch to feel left out on special religious occasion. We managed to find one we liked and duly placed our order.
Buying online was straightforward, and the fact that there is a size chart to consult for anyone who isn't too sure what size to buy for their pooch is helpful too. Collars are divided into six sizes so every canine from a Chihuahua to a Newfoundland is accommodated. It was refreshing to find that Up Country charge the same price regardless of the size of collar you are buying as well. It irks me to see prices for larger dogs are inflated when in reality there is very little extra cost involved.
~ Let the dog see the rabbit ~
Are they well made? In my opinion, yes. All the dog collars they sell are quick releasing, meaning that should Amber's collar get stuck on anything while she's rooting around in some undergrowth it should open before any harm is done, although we have yet to test this. I would have thought other collars with holes where you have to push the stem of the buckle through, would present a possible choking hazard and should be avoided unless you never let your dog off the lead. These are also adjustable in much the same way as straps on a shoulder bag are. Although my roly poly canine is fully grown now, if she should put on a little extra weight around her jowls (only too likely) there is still room for expansion.
They're a good size too at about 1 inch wide. Given that my dog is strong enough to pull me over when she is on her lead (thankfully only on the odd occasion when she catches sight of a squirrel or rabbit), as much as these collars are colourful and funky they have to be sturdy as well which mine have proved to be.
The material is nylon webbing with sewn on polyester/nylon ribbons. They are apparently machine washable although I opt to scrub them clean them by hand before hanging them outside to dry. Despite all the necessary cleaning the material hasn't frayed at all in the years that we've had them. The website claims that they are designed to last a (dog's) lifetime and I have no reason to doubt this. The buckle is black plastic and the ring that you attach a lead to is made of brass and sewn in securely. The website states the ring part is cast and not welded brass. I assume this means that it can never break apart when dog and I are having a tussle over which direction to walk in, although I wouldn't really know the difference and I doubt my dog does either.
The quality is however reflected in the price. I can't remember how much we paid for the ones we bought in California but they were around $20 each. If you want to buy directly from the Up Country website now, they cost $21 each. Around £15 may sound expensive for a dog collar, but our shop bought one has withstood 4 years of constant use (or abuse) and it still looks relatively new. The one we bought more recently online is looking just as fresh.
~ Recommended? ~
Certainly. The two that I use have proved to be durable and retained their fetching colours. I haven't seen them for sale in the UK which is a pity, although the fact that they aren't often seen has lead to conversations being struck up with other dog owners. The Up Country designs are unusual, and on the odd occasion when we've met a dog owner with an Amber double, it's also an easy way of ensuring I don't snap the lead on the wrong dog.