The Dog World, Friday

K9 Cleancoat by Geraldine Cove-Print

Created: 12/11/2014

One of the joys of the colder weather is walking your dog or dogs on a bright, frosty morning. I love watching them run and play and then comes that moment when they find a thin layer of ice over a muddy puddle and in seconds you know that not only will the inside of your car smell like a wet dog for a week but you have to spend at least 15 minutes washing and drying time, per dog, on your return home before you can get on with the rest of your day! Dog coats are all very well for downpours but they rarely stay in place if your dog is off lead running and could actually be dangerous if they slipped and became snagged while your dog was out of sight.

Back in the 1920s a new phrase entered our vocabulary when a particular form of sleeping attire had a resurgence in popularity and the ‘cat’s pyjamas’ became an expression of great approval. This week my test crew have the dog’s pyjamas to consider, will the K9 Cleacoat be the onesie they want?

I chose Cyril my Irish Setter and Binky, my Italian Spinone to be my testers.

Cyril is a submariner when it comes to puddles and Binky has started her HPR training, so there will be plenty of opportunity to see just how rugged the K9 Cleancoat is. The first stage was getting to grips with the measurements that Aileen Perry would need to construct the bespoke suit. She told me, “It makes sense to me that a one piece garment like this simply won’t fit unless it is made to measure, it’s been fascinating to see the differences within a breed for sizing.” I followed the instructions for measuring and sent the figures off by email. Aileen phoned me straight back, “Are you quite sure about this measurement? ” she said. I re-measured. Aileen was absolutely right, I had made an error. She told me, “When I get the measurements I then have a picture in my head of that dog, it jumps right out at me if something doesn’t sound quite right. I want the coat to be comfortable and allow the dog freedom of movement so I put a video on YouTube to explain how to measure twice so I only need to cut once!”

I loved making a choice from the fabrics Aileen has on her website, for Binky who would be wearing hers after a day in the field I felt that Dartmouth Green would be less likely to give cause for mirth than perhaps the multi coloured frogs among my trialling friends and for Cyril a beautiful cobalt blue with a jaunty tartan hood would suit him well. The gallery of pictures on Aileen’s website is glorious; I suspect that Cyril was relieved that I passed on the pink leopard skin pattern that looked so eye-catching on the vivacious Chinese Crested. I love the stars and stripes that Aileen’s own American Cocker sports, Toto is a successful show dog but he loves to run with the working Springers and all of that luxuriant coat was the inspiration for the suit.

When the K9CCs arrived I was delighted that Aileen had added Binky’s name onto the shoulder of the suit, I can see this being very popular as I have a feeling that affix holders will choose ‘team colours’ and then identify the individual dog. The fabric of the dog bodysuit is a soft fleece, each leg is covered and finished with a snug cuff, underneath a broad Velcro strip means you can tuck long coat away safely. A hood comes up over the ears and fits across the brow, this can be pushed back leaving head and ears exposed so your dog doesn’t have any excuse for not hearing you! Binky and Cyril reacted with great excitement on the first fitting, I’ve never really been one to dress my dogs but this garment is practical as well as having a certain sartorial elegance. The rest of my crew were most intrigued and my garden path rivalled the Milan haute couture runway as they swanked and strutted their stuff!

I was surprised at how quickly Cyril and Binky became used to the suits, perhaps because there is no restriction on their movement.

Most of my favourite walks this time of year involve mud, some of my crew daintily pick their delicate way around the puddles while others delight in a full on mud bath, on this first walk I had another Setter and Spinone with me as well as the two fashion icons so I could compare the results on returning home. Cyril and Binky showed no concern for the dog coats at all, and the mud was generously applied. It was the work of a few moments to get the coats off before the dogs were loaded back into my car and while Cyril and Binky were smug without mud, the other two dripped.

It’s not just mud that these dog coats will protect against; don’t you find the icy snowball effect on long coated dogs is a real pain to deal with? My oldies will certainly keep toastie on their slower walks when the blood can’t race as well as in their youth. Dog show car parks are so often churned up so the suit will be a god send in keeping the efforts of the night before bathing and grooming in fine fettle so only paws will need drying before being ring ready. For a working dog, a full day’s shooting often means a quick wash down with a hose at the venue and a cold journey home, even with a rug type dog coat but the bodysuit will maintain the body warmth while still allowing the skin to breathe and the coat to dry. What better way to thank your dog for a good day’s work? For dogs who suffer from seasonal allergies the suit will provide relief and with pesticides so widely used the coat provides a healthy barrier to irritant particles.

Aileen suggests just hanging the coat to dry or if it’s truly caked a quick machine wash does the trick without the need to tumble as it takes a very short time to dry, I found the suit kept good shape and was ready for use quickly. Are there any negative features? Well, the obvious one of not allowing your dog to swim in one has to be considered, there’s a good reason why knitted swimming costumes never really took off. The price for a bespoke garment is, I think, very reasonable. Between £35 and £50 for a quality item like this with tremendous back up from Aileen is, in my opinion, a bargain. Now, where did I put that tape measure and this time it’s going to be the psychedelic frogs.