Retractable dog leashes I do and don’t recommend

TL;DR: Flexi retractable leashes are superior to the Alcott or Wigzi brands.

I’ve been using Flexi brand retractable leashes for two decades. But after a few years either the internal spring breaks or the tape or cord is frayed to the point it breaks. So with anywhere from two to four dogs in my house during that time I’ve had to buy quite a few leashes during those two decades.

A couple weeks before Christmas 2017 one of my Flexi leashes broke. So I drove to my favorite pet store, Pet Food Express, and was surprised they no longer stocked the Flexi brand. I could have found another local store that carried the brand I had been using for close to twenty years or ordered from Amazon or another web retailer. But I want to support local businesses whenever I can so I decided to try one of the two brands they now stock.

I bought two Alcott retractable leashes. The first thing I noticed is the buttons to lock the leash to a fixed length were awkward to use compared to the Flexi model I had been using. That however was a very minor issue. What wasn’t a minor issue was that at the end of the first week both leashes had stopped retracting the tape all the way with one inch left dangling. And every day the amount of tape not fully retracted increased. By the end of six weeks it was one to two feet as you can see in this picture:

Alcott retractable leashes after six weeks.

So I wrote to Pet Food Express about my unhappiness with the product. I got a reply twelve hours later telling me to take the broken leashes back to the store for replacement or credit. That sort of customer service is why I try to support local businesses. I decided to try the other brand they now stocked: the Wigzi retractable leash. That brand was more disappointing than Alcott. The nylon tape is far too thin and flexible. The tape constantly folds in half longitudinally which causes it to bind when retracted. When not folding in half the tape twists into a tight spiral as my dogs stop, sniff, pee, then circle each other as they resumed walking. Neither problem happens with the stiffer nylon tape used by Flexi. And to top it off after two weeks the Wigzi leashes were also no longer reliably retracting the tape all the way.

I hated doing it but I went to the nearby big box pet store and bought two Flexi retractable leashes. Two weeks later they haven’t given me a single problem. Bonus points for a locking mechanism that is much easier to use than the other brands.

What does “dog is my copilot” mean?

Today I noticed the search phrase “what does dog is my copilot mean” was used to reach my site. Since I titled my site “Dog Is My Copilot” I’m not surprised the person searching for an answer to that question clicked through to my site. But they were probably unsatisfied since I don’t explain what the term means (even to me). So I’m going to do so in this article.

I’m an atheist. So on one level it is an obvious satirical poke at the “God is my copilot” phrase used by so many Christians. If God is your copilot I don’t want to be anywhere near you when you’re driving. God has terrible aim and judgement for any supposedly omniscient omnipotent being. Please, do not let God tell you when to make a left turn.

On a more serious note the phrase means that canines are my non-human companions. The dogs in my life give me a reason to go for a walk around my neighborhood. I can count on my dogs to accept and reciprocate affection. They help me notice things that are important. Like that squirrel which is only two meters away and is probably very tasty. Cats (felids) are okay but I’ll always be a dog person.

Video of my dogs playing while I play with my new Canon 5D Mark III camera

Recently my next door neighbor acquired a female puppy. My two male dogs have been having a great time playing with the puppy. I finally grabbed my expensive Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera, put the 50mm lens on it, and recorded the dogs playing a couple of nights ago. This is the first time I’ve used the video feature of the camera and was pleasantly surprised. Especially since it was late evening and the light level was low. The videos I’ve embedded below are approximately half the resolution of the original.

This video includes another neighbor’s dog, buddy, a Boston Terrier, who stopped by unexpectedly.

Here we see Cronut, my neighbor’s puppy, playing with Hank, my Chihuahua/Terrier mix. The Black Lab/Basset Hound mix that is only interested in the tennis ball is my other dog Junior.

Here we have two children who regularly come by to play with the dogs make an appearance.

Changing the title of this blog

I originally chose “Life Itself” because I started this blog shortly after seeing the movie about Roger Ebert’s life. That movie is a must see for anyone who still watches movies (excluding crap like “Transformers”) in a theatre. And, frankly, I was at something of a loss for a pithy title. But after some reflection I’ve decided to change the name to something that better reflects what I find important:

  • my love of dogs, and
  • my atheism.

Hence the new name “Dog Is My Copilot”.

Dog + Car + Hot Day == Dead Dog Owned By Moron

So I’m leaving the Safeway grocery store this afternoon and I see a panting dog in a Toyota RAV 4 (small SUV) with all the windows rolled up in direct sun with the ambient temperature 85°F (29°C). I have the store manager page the owner. Another bystander calls the police. Ten minutes later the moron comes out of the store. I express my displeasure. The moron claims not to speak english (but pretty clearly does). She rolls down the windows two inches and goes back into the store. A few minutes later she comes out with one item. She moves the car twenty meters. It’s still in direct sun. She goes back into the store.

More time passes (perhaps ten minutes). She comes out of the store a third time. Just as she begins backing out of the parking spot the police arrive. Hooray. I stand behind her vehicle until the officer can park and get out of his vehicle. I hope he wrote her a citation but more likely is he gave her a lecture. Hopefully that will be enough to keep her from killing her dog tomorrow when the temperature is predicted to hit 99°F (38°C).

If you want to kill your dog do it in a more humane fashion than baking it in your car.

Death of a dog

There is a wonderful and sad story in pictures about the final day of a canine companions life. That prompted me to write about one of my extra special companions: Einstein the German Shepherd.

Einstein was born sometime around 1997-07-01. I say “around” because I found him as a stray when he was approximately six months old. The pictures below are from when he was roughly five years old. In his senior years he loved to lay in the front yard or on the sidewalk in the evening and observe the neighborhood. When people and other dogs walked by he just watched them. Even two years after his death neighbors still ask me about him. He was the only dog I’ve lived with that I would trust unattended with children of any age.

Einstein and I made that final trip to the vet on 2012-03-26. As with the dog in the aforementioned story Einstein suffered from cancer (an abdominal tumor). It didn’t seem to bother him until the last two weeks of his life when he started showing a lack of enthusiasm for going on a walk. When he stopped eating I knew it was time to grant him the final kindness of a gentle death. Too bad we can’t do the same thing for the humans we love. Yet another reason to despise religious dogma.

Einstein jumping

Einstein in bed