RSS Feed

Tag Archives: collar

Butterfly Almost Gave Grandma a Heart Attack


Butterfly’s collar started out a lovely powder pink, to match her girly personality, and ended up washed out and grey. Same with the leash, but much worse. Butterfly’s body produces an inordinate amount of oily sweat, and something about this substance breaks down the fabric in her collars. The leash problem is more my fault, because she needs to dance and twirl and run on her way to pooping, and it’s just easier to let go of the leash in the backyard and let her drag it behind her. I don’t know if it was the mud and grass, or the endless trips through the washing machine, but something killed her leashes fast.

For her birthday this year I decided to replace both. We found a leather collar in a bright pink, with silver studs on it, and a bungee cord of a leash that will never be destroyed. The collar seemed to be little a loose to me, but Mom said not to worry, that the stiffness of the leather would keep it in place. I still listen to my mom. I mean, she’s MOM!


Butterfly is wearing her new collar here. You can see how much she loves it.

We decided to inaugurate the new collar and leash by taking both dogs out for a walk around the neighborhood. Butterfly prefers to stay in the backyard and listen to the birds, but Cricket needs adventure, and Butterfly can use the exercise, so, every once in a while, I insist.


She’s already got her paws on the new leash!

As usual, as soon as we got to the edge of the backyard, Butterfly put on the breaks. She gave me her “Are you trying to kill me?” look, and I had to pull on her leash to move her even an inch at a time past the dreaded corner. When she’s feeling really stubborn, I just pick her up and carry her, and hope she will relent before my back gives out, and she was feeling particularly stubborn that day.

I carried her around the corner and up past the Seven-Eleven, where Cricket started to bark at coffee addicts and big trucks and children in strollers. I put Butterfly down and hoped she would be distracted by the cacophony of odors outside of a local restaurant.


“I think somebody interesting peed here!”

Mom was busy arguing with Cricket, about the social niceties of NOT barking at strangers, so I focused on trying to convince Butterfly that walking was a good thing. I’d tug on the leash and she’d walk a few steps, and then she’d sit down and yank her (very powerful) neck to let me know I was a really bad Mommy. Then I’d tug again, she’d walk another few steps, and stop. After a while, I stopped even looking back. I just faced forward and pulled.

And then there was no struggle. Ahh, I thought, she’s finally enjoying her walk. But when I turned around to check on her, all that was left at the end of her new leash was a bright pink collar. No dog.

I looked up, past Mom and Cricket, and saw the receding plume of Butterfly’s white tail. She was on her way home. Alone.

pix from eos 013

“You mean this tail, Mommy?”

My mind was running in too many different directions, with all of the thoughts whirling and refusing to stand still. I was in a panic that Butterfly would get hit by a car; I was angry at Mom for telling me not to worry about the loose collar; I felt horribly guilty for dragging Butterfly on a walk she didn’t want; I was embarrassed that it was all happening in public. I couldn’t make one thought come through, except for the need to scream and ask for help. So I screamed, “Mom!”

Mom gave me Cricket’s leash and started to run after Butterfly herself. My mother doesn’t run, nor should she run, but I was too shocked to remind her.

I took Cricket’s leash, but I was still frozen, and confused, and Cricket tried to take advantage of my in-between state to take charge and pull me up the hill. But arguing with Cricket is familiar and it helped my brain click back in. We had to dodge cars again as we walked past the Seven-Eleven parking lot, and I watched helplessly as Butterfly ran down the sidewalk, and around the corner, following the exact route home, with Grandma on her tail.

pix from eos 059

Cricket likes to control the leash, too.

By the time we caught up with them, Grandma was sitting on the stoop in front of our building, breathless, with a smiling Butterfly standing at her knees. Butterfly let me put her collar back on without an argument, and I took both girls up the hill to finish their walk while Grandma took some deep breaths by herself.

When we got back inside, we fixed the collar right away, punching a new hole in the leather so that Butterfly couldn’t pull her head through again. And then Mom went to bed, with Cricket guarding her back, to make sure she stayed alive through her nap, of course, and probably also to keep the dastardly Butterfly away.

pix from eos 049

“Who me?”

I’m not sure what lesson to learn from all of this. Maybe, Don’t listen to Mom, or, Don’t force Butterfly to do things she doesn’t want to do, or, Cricket is the most adaptable member of this family (!!!!!!!)! Maybe the lesson is simply to take each adventure as it comes, and know that you can always take a nap afterwards, with or without Cricket standing guard.


Cricket guarding Grandma.

Harness Houdini

All of Cricket’s harnesses



When Cricket was little I heard a lot about the collar versus harness debate. That, especially with small dogs, the vertebrae at the neck are so fragile that the collar can do real damage if she pulls too hard at the leash. A harness is safer and better. Just like a crate is better than leaving the dog to roam free and sleep on your bed. And homemade food is better than store bought. And you need pet gates and wee wee pads and hourly trips outside, and on and on.

I was determined to be the perfect pet owner this time around. We bought everything on the list from the breeder, including special food and treats and toys and a crate. For my whole life, our dogs went without all of that. They ate regular dog food, and chewed on socks and couches and never stepped foot in a crate or an obedience class.

I was especially proud of Cricket’s car harness. It was black nylon on the outside and plush on the inside and solidly made. I snapped her into the harness and tightened the straps and then attached it to the seatbelt in the back seat of the car just like the instructions told me to do. My preference would have been just to hold her in my arms, or buy one of those soft carriers you see in the catalogs. Dog catalogs are like crack for new dog owners, addictive and very bad for you.

She was sitting calmly in the back seat when I turned the key in the ignition. This was just a test trip, because I’m a worrier, and Mom was there with us in case of trouble. And, of course, within thirty seconds of my turning the key in the ignition, Cricket had escaped her harness and jumped into the front seat.

The car harness, for just a moment

The pressure to put her in a harness didn’t go away, though. Whenever we took her out walking, we were told that her collar was too skinny to take the pressure of the leash pulling at her neck. So we went back to the store and bought a strappy red harness for her daily walks. By the time we reached the sidewalk on the first outing with the new harness, she had removed the whole apparatus, this thing that took me five minutes and ten red scratches on my arms to put on her. One minute she was at the end of the leash and the next she was in the street, bewildered.

Mom found a wider collar, meant for a larger dog, and then altered it by adding more holes in the collar so it could be tightened down to Cricket’s size. With the wider collar, we read, the pressure would be more evenly distributed along her neck as she, inevitably, pulled like an ox against her leash.

We took a break from harnesses for a year after that, but when Cricket went to her second training class, the teacher recommended harnesses again, and told us which one to buy. She carefully tightened the straps in all the right places before class and told us Cricket would be fine. Within two minutes, Cricket had worked her body into such knots that the harness was wrapped around her ankle and holding her foot in the air.

The teacher had never seen such a thing, and after another few failed attempts, she told us to stick with the collar and make do.

Finally, five years along, Cricket has a harness that stays on. Mostly. It’s pink and silver and looks like a little tank top. And this time, we tailored it so it fits her skinny shoulders and stays right under her armpits. She can stay in it for a whole walk, but even with this one, she can pull part of the mechanism over her head, so that the leash is dangling from her throat. I don’t know how she does this.

The pink and silver harness

The fact is, with enough motivation, like one of her human cousins trying to drag her across the yard, Cricket can even get out of her collar, let alone any of her many harnesses. She’s an escape artist. But the only place she escapes to, is behind my legs, where she feels safe. Go figure.

The pink harness out for a walk