In the dog world, the name Paco Collars never fails to draw a squeal of envy and wonder from an adoring public. I have only heard good things: lifetime warranty, cruelty free, rich, buttery leather, tasteful design, the list goes on and on.
For months I have agonized over whether or not to go all in and buy Daphne a Paco collar. After all, she is the Queen of Dogs and deserves the best. However, in the service dog world, there are certain reservations about having a collar like this one:
A few months ago I had the money all saved up to buy a collar like this one from Paco when I had a conversation with another service dog handler about her reservations when it comes to working dogs in a collar like this. Here are the basic points:
- The collar doesn’t have a safety release buckle. Service dogs can get into some sticky situations when working. This can include children jumping on them, paramedics pulling them away from an incapacitated handler, or having to navigate tight spaces where their collar could get caught. Because of this, a safety release (or “slide release” like THIS ONE) is generally a good idea. If the dog needs to be let out of the collar quickly, it can be done with one hand and it take less dexterity to navigate a large safety release than it does a large buckle.
I thought this was a little paranoid when I heard it. I sometimes work Daphne in a chain martingale which has no buckle at all and this was issued standard by her program.
- Service dog gear should do its best to be understated. Most people think that service dogs have one job, to assist their disabled handler, but in reality they have two jobs. Their second job is to be as invisible as possible. Sometimes, more than half of a service dog’s training is dedicated to “Public Access Training” or the ability to behave quietly and calmly in a variety of environments that are not typically dog friendly. The main goal of public access training is to make the dog as invisible as possible in public. The dog learns to stay silent and at the handler’s side at all times, unless otherwise asked. She learns to crawl under restaurant tables and benches, sit silently for long periods of time, and disregard and not react to loud noises and visual stimuli.
Thus, argued this unnamed service dog handler, the gear should follow suit. Bright colors should only be used in the vest as a warning and they should not distract the public (for example, pink camo was a distracting color for a vest while red was a good “warning” color). An expensive collar would only detract from Daphne’s awesome public access skills, and that would be such a shame.
I thought this over and I also found this a bit paranoid. Daphne has gotten Public Access down to an art form. I mean, just last month, she met Steven Colbert and she stared him down like he was a Walmart greeter who didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to pet working service dogs. She has gotten the New York City Subway committed to memory and we often make her pass unofficial ADI Public Access Tests just for fun. Nevertheless, she is a babe. She’s a beautiful dog and she gets attention wherever we go. It just happens. I’ve come to accept that fact and she has never bothered anyone. I highly doubt that a collar, when thrown into the mix would make much of a difference in her being noticed or not noticed.
That doesn’t just go for Daphne. I think if your service dog is properly trained in Public Access, it shouldn’t really matter what they’re wearing…within reason, of course.
- Leather and rhinestones can’t stand up to the abuse that working dogs give to their collars. True, perhaps, but I guess that’s where the lifetime warranty comes in. I guess I’ll have to contact Paco about that and see what they think. I certainly don’t have the energy for my dog to have a “fancy, at home” collar and a “working” collar. I am just too lazy to switch, but I’m sure Paco has a solution to that. Some of their collars look pretty tough.
So that’s my little song and dance about fancy gear. Now I just have to convince my cheap, disabled, unemployed butt to save up for one of these uber-expensive collars. Or maybe, if my blog gets popular enough I’ll get a gift from the Paco collar Gods, like the Dog Snobs did.