I recently received my new service dog vest. A brand new vest just for me! I think it is exciting to get mail. The anticipation of what is inside a package is fun! Do you like to get mail? When my mom was opening the package I watched her carefully. I was sure there was something special inside for me!
My mom likes it when I get a new vest because it is so crisp and clean looking. I’m not quite as enthused. I know it is important for me to look well kept so that means my vests need periodic replacing. But when they are new they are stiff and not as comfy as my well worn old ones.
In my post Bath time! I told you how my mom washes my vest when I have a bath. And even sometimes in between if it looks dirty and needs washing. I get a new vest every year or so because they become a bit faded and get kind of scruffy looking with being washed so often.
When I get a new vest my mom has to add a new “Please Do Not Pet I’m Working” patch. She also makes a few adjustments to the vest so that it is more comfortable for me. I will tell you about these adjustments in a minute. But first I want to tell you why my mom has to make these changes with my vest.
When I was younger, my body was quite sensitive to having anything on it, especially my puppy cape. And later my service dog vest. My puppy raisers tell stories about me choosing to stay home because I didn’t want to put my cape on. I really did want to go places but I didn’t like the way my body felt when wearing my cape. I would have been much happier if I could go places without wearing it!
When I went to service dog college my trainers continued to work with me so that I would be more accepting of wearing my vest. I really didn’t like wearing my vest and even my collar. But I knew that if I wanted to be a service dog I would need to wear it. Have there been things that you didn’t like doing but you worked hard to find ways to push through and still do them? This is how it was for me with my vest.
After my mom and I were partnered together she wanted to see if she could find ways for me to be more at ease when wearing my vest. Every day she would do a special kind of massage on my body, especially around my neck and on the area where my vest was placed. The massaging and circular movements she did on my body felt so good.
I loved having her fingers and hand move through my fur and against my skin. Over time my body became much less sensitive to the feeling of having my vest on which made me and my mom very happy. She still does that special kind of massage with me but far less often now.
Do you ever get a new outfit or a jacket that you really like but it doesn’t fit quite right? One that you know would be perfect if only an adjustment or two could be made. Well, that is the way it is when I get my new vest. For me, it would be okay if I had to wear it just as it is when it arrives. But with just a few adjustments it is so much more comfortable!
Now I will tell you about the adjustments my mom makes that I mentioned above. When she gets me a new vest she replaces the web straps with elastic straps. Do you know what this does? It makes it so it moves smoothly with my body as I move. The web straps are rigid but the elastic ones are stretchy and conform to my body. My vest is also a size small so that there is less fabric than the normally used medium size.
Remember how I also mentioned that I didn’t really like having my collar on either? Well, my mom made that more comfortable for me, too. She found a lightweight half-inch wide buckle type collar for me to wear. Being lightweight and narrow it is comfy and just perfect for me!
When we are at home I don’t wear my vest or collar. Whenever we are getting ready to go out shopping or to appointments or anywhere else we need to go, my mom, puts my collar and leash on.and gets me dressed in my vest. But once we get back home she takes everything off from me.
My mom has been creative to find ways for me to be as comfortable as possible when wearing my vest and collar. It is a lot of work for her to replace all of the straps when I get a new vest. But she says that it is worth the effort because she knows it is better for me. If you ask me I’d say my mom does a great job of taking care of me!
Here I am wearing my new service dog vest!