[Geardog is not in any of these photos, by the way. These are photos courtesy of D-Fa and their professional photographer Fredrik Larssen, which is why they are really good photos and not the utter crap that happens when I pick up a camera.]
Most of you readers know by now that Geardog, my trained search and rescue/avalanche dog is my most trusted and important partner. We spend a ton of time working and training together, and since Geardog looks to me to make sure all his needs are met, I have the responsibility of making sure that he’s able to do his job at any time in all conditions.
There is a perception that search dogs and handlers go racing quickly into the scene to save the day. This is rarely true in the sense that most people think of it – “responding quickly” is done in an organized fashion that looks painfully slow to people used to made-for-TV drama and action movie scenes. No one goes sprinting into danger, especially when responding to avalanches where, though time is of the essence, there are many scene safety considerations that must be addressed before any responders can go to the scene to start searching. This is especially applicable in training, where there is absolutely no reason to take big risks. Therefore, training (and sometimes responding) can involve a lot of standing/sitting/lying around and waiting. If it’s wintertime, we’re talking about standing around in the deep cold and waiting. And waiting some more.
I don’t know about you, but I get cold standing around waiting, and so does Geardog and his compatriots. All the avalanche dogs around here have some form of coat to wear from what I’ve seen, but Geardog is lucky enough to have D-Fa as his sponsor (don’t get the name? Say it fast, D-Fa Dogs…try it with a Kiwi accent. Got it?) so he’s sporting the fab Puff Doggy when the action is slow. He’s got enough fur to compensate for all conditions but standing around in the bitter cold, and the Puff Doggy is just the ticket.
The Puff Doggy is like a down jacket for dogs, with attention to detail not usually found in doggy gear. Puffy coats for dogs are just not that common; manufacturers usually opting for fleece or something similar. The Puff Doggy is the real deal for the dog in the backcountry, with a water resistant Pertex outer layer and a strap system meant to keep the heat in. I like that the Puff Doggy extends over the chest and down over the dog’s elbows, trapping more heat and keeping important joints warm. When Geardog lies down, the coat forms a little tent over him to keep the drafts out. The Puff Doggy, like your down coat, stuffs down small so it’s relatively easy for me to keep it in my 24-hour SAR pack just in case my furry partner needs a helping hand staying warm someday.
D-Fa is not your typical line of dog clothing. It’s designed for big dogs to use in tough conditions. Many of D-Fa’s testers are ski patrol dogs, search dogs, and other working dogs who really do need good gear. This isn’t for the Sunday stroll kind of dog; it’s for the working dog, and in my experience the gear really does deliver.
D-Fa is not too easy to find on this side of the pond but you can buy it directly from the D-Fa USA store here.