In 2003, nearly twenty years after Shelly’s death, I decided
to bring dogs back into my life. I brought home Jake, an Australian Shepherd.
Jake’s a chewer. Rawhide, shoes, towels, you name it and he
will chew it. One of his favorite “chew toys” was leashes. Nylon or leather, he
went through dozens of leashes in rapid succession.
Despite his chewing, Jake
brought me such joy and healing that I decided to get another Australian
Two chewers and several hundred dollars later, I got fed up
with the leashes I was finding on the market. Even twenty-five dollar couplers
didn’t work, Jake would just chew through his and Judo’s straps and I would
find them sitting in front of the door of whatever coffee shop or store I had
Going back to the pet store, my only other option was chain
link. If you have ever tried to walk an excited dog or two, you know chain
link is one of the most unmanageable and painful materials in the world. So
what is an enterprising dog mom to do?
I went to the hardware store. After some trial and error, I developed
a leash using aircraft cable, carabiners and fasteners. It wasn’t pretty but it
was functional and Jake couldn’t chew through it. (Oh, he tried but only once
So I did it, I made a virtually indestructible leash that
could help me prevent losing another dog. Then what? First, I started making
leashes here and there for friends and an occasional dog owner. Then finally in
2008, after a lot of prodding from my friends, family and customers, I started
selling my Vir-Chew-Ly Indestructible™ Leashes to local pet stores and through
Portland, Oregon’s Saturday Market.
Over the years, I’ve made dozens of design refinements in
order to increase my Vir-Chew-Ly Indestructible™ Leashes’ safety, strength and
break point capacity. I have learned how to work a hydraulic press, field-test
my product and design new products to serve my customers’ needs.
One hundred and fifty pet stores and ten thousand leashes
later, a lot has changed except my commitment to that irreplaceable part of
your life, your dog.
MuttGear is dog-centric so please send me your feedback, dog
stories, product suggestions and testimonials. And when life gets to be too
much, remember to take a cue from your dog - find that sunny spot on the couch,
breathe and let go.