Review: Coyote Vest

Such an exciting afternoon!!  I checked the mailbox today (no, we don’t get mail delivered on Sundays in Canada, I’ve just been too lazy to walk up to the road and check it for a few days) and discovered a “hey, you have a parcel at the post office!” notice so I scooted my butt up there before they closed and found this waiting for me!

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Fae and Addy’s Coyote Vests have arrived!

The lovely people at Coyote Vest had contacted me a while ago, and told me they’d read the story of Little Man and how he got taken, and they felt so bad for me that they wanted to do something to help protect my remaining Littles.  (I’m not sure if one of y’all gave them the heads up or what, and if so, thank you!).  We chatted about my Littles and where I live and they offered to send me two free vests, one for each dog.  I was so excited, and even more excited to open the package and find not only the vests, but the spikes and the whiskers as well!

My dogs are fully Mad Maxed out!

These outfits are AWESOME.

The vests themselves are made from stab-proof Kevlar, so stupid pointy coyote teeth would have difficulty puncturing them.  They tailor-made Addy’s because she is so skinny and so long.  The vest covers their backs and sides and fit perfectly right down to the start of their tails, and the straps are adjustable to ensure a good, tight fit on the body.  There are plastic spikes embedded into the collars which protects their necks, and makes Addy look like Elvis, which is SO. MUCH. RAD.  The quality is excellent.

The vests have velcro sewn down in two lines alongside either side of the spine so I could attach the row of plastic spikes, which travel from the shoulders all the way down to the bum.  The rows of spikes are placed in such a way that if a coyote or other predator tried to pick up the dog, they’d just get a mouthful of painful spikes.  Even though the spikes are plastic, they are plenty sturdy and also lightweight – in the fact the whole rig is very lightweight and obviously doesn’t prevent the Littles from doing their regular (stuff and) thangs:

The whiskers are the piece de resistance; they are strong but flexible plastic skinny-straws that also get velcroed onto the vest, right down the length of the spine, and one smaller one at the base of the neck.  Imagine if you will trying to chomp down on your Starbucks Frappacino cup from the top – the straw would poke you in the throat and make you give up that stupid idea pretty quick.  This is how the whiskers function, but en masse.  Them thing’d poke you in all kinds of uncomfortable face places, like your eyes and your gums and the back of your throat.  It’s an extra deterrent and the whole combination means that something predatory that tried to grab my little dogs would have a helluva time doing it – coyotes usually grab tiny dogs by the back and break their backs, or by the neck and break that.  The spikes, the kevlar and are a difficult trifecta to get through.

When I first put the vests on the dogs, Addy was temporarily immobilized (much as she is when I put her rainsuit on her, or her pajamas – for a dog who hates being cold and wet, she sure hates wearing warm clothing that keeps her dry!).  She was kind of like a cat wearing a sweater and didn’t move at all for a couple of minutes.

But once she grew accustomed to her new outfit, she found it easy to move around and soon forgot she was wearing it, and life returned to normal for The Pants.

Fae didn’t mind getting dressed, as she is much more agreeable about wearing clothes, but the whiskers gave her fits at first.  She could see them out of the corner of her eye and assumed they were The Straws Of God and they’d come down to suck her up into the sweet hereafter.  Then she got mad at them and spent a couple of minutes turning in super-angry circles trying to catch them.  Finally she decided they were harmless and she was off and running like her usual self.

The big dogs were skeptical of the brightly coloured Littles at first.  Dexter accidentally brushed up against Fae’s spikes and whiskers and jumped about 300 feet in the air, and gave her a wide berth thereafter.  The vests have the added benefit of making Peetie leave the Littles alone, as the first time she tried to bite someone’s bum she got a faceful of whisker and she kept a respectful distance afterward.

And in a total coincidence, the neighbours have family visiting with a very large and not very happy pit bull mix looking dog.  It ran around the hedge and came charging at my dogs across the upper pasture, growling and barking the whole way.  Fortunately I happened to be right next to TWooie The Strange Dog Killer so I threw myself on top of him and managed to pin him to the ground right before he Took Offense to the interloper, but it also meant I couldn’t grab Fae and Addy and they, along with the rest of the crew, ran straight for the strange dog (whilst I screamed “GET YOUR DOG! GET YOUR DOG!” at the unseen neighbours).  The dog ended up not doing anything (would you?  If 8 dogs met your challenge and got all up in your grill?) but I felt kinda better knowing that if he decided to try and kill one of my tinydogs he’d have a lot tougher of a time, and this could concentrate on not inadvertently releasing a very angry and squirmy TWoo.

It was a pretty hot afternoon and we played ball and stuff for about an hour, and neither Fae nor Addy seemed uncomfortable in their kevlar.  The outfits are so lightweight that they didn’t impede their usual ability to run around and be ridiculous and when I stuck my hands under the vests, it wasn’t a hotbox or anything.  So all in all, super excellent addition to our anti-coyote arsenal!

I can’t WAIT to take them hiking in these rigs.  If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like attention from strangers, you won’t enjoy these because people stare!  My dogs wore them for about an hour on my property and people walking by on the road stopped and took a second and third look.  Fortunately, I don’t mind and I can’t wait to take my dogs out with these things on and talk them up to people who are interested.  The bright colours mean the dogs are easy to find, which would be a blessing in a situation where something was trying to take off with one of them.  I think these vests are awesome, and I wish I’d made the investment in them when Little Man was still with us.  He might still be alive today if he’d had one.  Remember, it CAN happen to you, it doesn’t always happen to “someone else” :(

I can’t recommend them highly enough.  Now we can all relax a little when we’re playing on the property.

(Well, Wootie was already relaxed)

Oh and one of the best things about them?  You can whip up stuff like this!

(Amy calls it “Mad Max Furry Road”)

hahaha!

I give these vets a solid 10/10!  If you have a little dog and you live in coyote country, consider buying one and protecting your precious Littles … and supporting an AWESOME company who just made our lives a whole lot better and safer!

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ETA:

Just to address some questions/concerns posed to or in my general direction:

I’m afraid these vests will injure my other dogs. Well, not unless your other dogs try to pick up the dogs wearing the outfits!  As you can see from some of the above photos, my other larger dogs had no problems running around as per usual with their Little Crew.  There was some adjustment while they got used to the Littles looking mighty strange, but once they were over that, it was business as usual for everyone.  The spikes and whiskers don’t shoot poison daggers at passing dogs or anything, they are simply a deterrent designed to make picking up and carrying off my little dogs a lot harder than it otherwise would be for something predatory.  I (and my Littles) would prefer that the larger dogs in the household don’t pick them up and carry them around anyway, so the vests really don’t interfere with their regular routines.

It would definitely make wrasslin’ less-than-fun, but my two Littles don’t really wrassle much with one another anyway; they prefer chase games, and these don’t affect that in any way.

They seem cumbersome for anyone to use daily.  Two buckles on straps folks, that’s what it takes to put them on. Now, granted, I did forget to put them on for their morning walk today because I am only semi conscious before my first cup of coffee, but it also takes me a few weeks to get into the routine of putting on raincoats in the winter before our walks too.  And it takes a lot more time to put on 9 raincoats than it does to put on two body armour vests!

If I needed my dogs to wear those to go for a walk, I would just move.  I envy those of you who have the resources to move somewhere totally safe (if there is such a place), or who own your own property and can fence and cross fence it, and can get LGDs to protect your property and the like.  I don’t, and can’t.  I have lived here for seven years and hope to live here a lot longer, because it’s 10 acres of private playground for me and the dogs in a rapidly urbanizing area.  In those seven years, our problems with coyotes have been confined almost entirely to them eating my chickens and ducks.  As more and more development goes up around us, there is less and less hunting grounds for coyotes, and they are becoming hungrier and thus bolder.  I can’t change that, all I can do is do my best to protect my loved ones with the tools available to me.

If your dogs needs to wear those so they don’t get carried off by a coyote, you aren’t watching your dogs closely enough.  Four months ago I might have said the same thing.  In fact I did, and I spent many weeks and months mentally punishing myself for letting a coyote steal my Little Man.  But the reality is that coyotes are predators and they are lightning fast.  They can also be extremely aggressive – a friend of mine fought off a coyote that tried to take her terrier that was on-leash and attached to her, in an urban alley, just a few years ago.  We aren’t talking about the countryside, we’re talking a major urban center in the daylight.  Until it happens to you (and doG I hope it doesn’t) you will probably always think that it couldn’t.  I struggle to balance the lifestyle I wanted to offer my dogs by moving to the farm with their safety and I am always aware and have my eyes open.  I don’t relax on the lawn with a book while my dogs run around the acreage, and I don’t turn them loose by themselves – I am always with them and I am always aware.  But I also want them to have fun and the freedom to run and play and enjoy the farm.  If these vests can offer another layer of protection to allow them to do that, then they are worth their weight in gold.

Your dogs look ridiculous.  I know!  Isn’t it awesome?!?! :)

Comments

  1. Catherine Weatbrook says:

    AWESOME!

  2. Adrienne says:

    I am SO glad that you have these! I remember sending you the link. Mainly because I wasn’t sure if these fell in the category of useful or laughable. I’m glad that someone contacted the company and that they helped you out.

    I have Littles too and we have contemplated a move to a rural area. Coyotes are a real concern. As well as large birds of prey. These vests look like they’d be effective there too.

    I was wondering how the vests would affect play. My dogs all like to wrestle.

  3. The vests would definitely affect play, because there are all those spikes and whiskers. But I figure my gals can wrestle in the house or the yard if they want to. These are for when we are out hiking or on the property where I can’t see everyone at once.

  4. Adrienne says:

    Ah, good to know!

  5. Janice in GA says:

    Hooray! Mad Max was the first thing I thought of too! :D

  6. I think those vests are super cool for a coyote/large dog/terrestrial predator deterrent. They seem well-designed and adaptable for each dog and situation. However, I had to email the company’s owners a couple of months ago because they are sorely misinformed about birds of prey and what they can and cannot do. I work with birds of prey and there are SO many questions from people who have been told that hawks will carry away their 15lb dog, or their child, when that is simply, physically, impossible. Unfortunately, the item they’re advertising for hawk protection is based on erroneous information and unfounded fear (unless your animal weighs less than 3 lbs. a hawk physically CANNOT carry the animal away, making their tearaway design not terribly useful). I’d love to work with them to design a vest that actually protects small dogs from birds of prey and the techniques they do use to hunt, but it seems my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. By all means use these for coyote protection – I just have serious misgivings about advertising them as defending against birds.

    They seem like good people (and I really love that they reached out to you) and I want their company and products to succeed in protecting pets. I just hope they listen to feedback and facts…

  7. So happy you were able to get these vest. They look awesome!. Love the “Mad Max” picture at the end!!

  8. Wonderful! I wish they made something for chickens, too.

  9. Oh awesome!

  10. Kt , Mitzi, sage, and pickles says:

    These are awesome!!!!! I loooove the bright pink (super easy to find in the brambles!!!), and addy in particular looks like a superhero in her poses….a punk, kick-your-butt-and-eat-it-for-breakfast superhero. Fae looks like an adorable (and spikey) furry dinosaur.

  11. The gift couldn’t have been given to a more deserving pack; hurray!

    I burst out laughing at your description of Dexter’s reaction to inadvertent contact with the vest – then saw the photo that followed; his look says it all!

  12. Maria Shanley says:

    These are great! Coyote will think “psychedelic porcupines from hell”!

  13. Donna Lusthoff says:

    To C & E the Birds of Prey person. They can only carry away a 3 lb. animal? In OR we have cats that are taken. Do you include OWLS as only being able to carry 3 lbs? Also some Hawks grab cats-maybe they can’t carry away, but they sure severely hurt kitties. The tear away item might be good for this??? Good post otherwise.

  14. Your average bird of prey might have trouble carrying away an 8 or 10lb cat or dog, but that doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of killing said cat or dog!

    I’d think these would help against bird of prey regardless honestly, the whiskers make the dogs look larger than they are, plus make it harder to grab the animal for a killing blow.

  15. Laura in California says:

    Your littles look totally badass in thier vests! So very glad that you have them.

  16. Re: Owls – owls are a much greater risk to pets than hawks, in general. Although hawks can and will eat things up to the size of rabbits, they just eat them on the ground – but they are relatively unlikely to go after pets (aside from chickens…). Owls can and happily will eat things up to the size of small dogs, cats, and (in the wild) they are a primary predator of skunks. But if the bird protection vests are primarily a tear-away strip on the dog’s back, how helpful could it possibly be when the bird is not attempting to carry the animal away but IS going to grab the animal and pin it on the ground? A large great horned owl has several hundred pounds of force per sq. Inch when they seize something in their talons – more than hawks, more than many dogs’ bite strength.

    I don’t know what the solution is or should be, but I really don’t think you should advertise something as protecting against birds when it does not address the fact that birds will NOT attempt to carry the animal away – they will kill it and eat it on the ground. I don’t want someone thinking their small dog is safe when it is not. Honestly, the crazy whiskers and spikes might be more effective against birds than the strip that is marketed for that task.

    Bottom line is: CoyoteVest people, talk to wildlife centers, zoos, falconers, whoever – and build a vest that really does protect against owls and hawks and how they are REALLY most dangerous to small pets.

  17. I have a 15 pound French Bulldog and live in the middle of a neighborhood in a city and about a year ago, I took my dog out into the backyard to use the bathroom and was standing not even a foot from my dog when a hawk swooped down clearly aiming for my dog and I think the hawk must have misjudged the size of my dog but it missed him almost like it realized he was bigger than the hawk thought and flew onto our neighbor’s roof and air conditioning unit. It was definitely a hawk and I see it still quite often. Scary.

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