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Why the We Leash

A Little Back Story:

In 1980 when I was sixteen years old, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and told I’d likely need a wheelchair for the rest of my life.  I fell completely to pieces.  Knowing my love for animals and desperate to help me find a way to cope, my dad called a woman he’d read about in a magazine who was using dogs to help people in wheelchairs.  Hearing the woman had just started her work and wasn’t in a position to help me, gave dad an even better idea.  He proposed we start a service dog school of our own!  I was over the moon with excitement.  With my blessing, he named the program Canine Assistants.

Two weeks after the first planning session for Canine Assistants, my dad was hit by a drunk driver on a motorcycle.  He lived overnight in the ICU of a local hospital.  I knew it was unlikely he’d survive the massive injuries he’d sustained.  I spent that awful night going from abject despair to overwhelming anger.   My anger made me determined to fight back, to do all in my power to help other people who were suffering like I was.  I promised my dad, and myself, I’d make Canine Assistants a reality.  

It took a long time for me to keep that promise.  Dad’s life insurance included an exclusionary clause against death by two-wheeled vehicles.  Though it was intended for people driving or riding on motorcycles, it was upheld in court.  Struggling financially, it took my mom and me eleven years but, on December 31, 1991, Canine Assistants was officially incorporated.

For over twenty-five years now it has been my privilege to watch dogs do astonishing things for the people they love.  I have gone from liking dogs to being in absolute awe of them.  If I worked every second of every day for the rest of my life, I could not come close to repaying dogs for all they have done for me and for others who need them.  But, I’m damn well going to try.  The promise I made my dad has grown:  I will do all in my power to make life better for dogs and the people who love them.  The We Leash is the best way I know to begin fulfilling that promise.  

Here’s why:

Imagine for a moment walking in a foreign country next to your best friend in all the world – a friend that you feel responsible for looking after – with your hands duct-taped behind your back.  It would be a little scary wouldn’t it?  After all, you are in a place where you don’t speak much of the language, unable to defend yourself or your friend.  That must be what our dogs feel like when they are leashed to us – vulnerable and largely helpless.  Is it any wonder our dogs pull against the restraint or react strongly to scary sights?  They love us.  They want to be with us.  Yet, they are most certainly aware that they are trapped.

Even extraordinarily well-trained dogs aren’t safe in open areas unless they are on a leash.  But by their very nature, leashes take away any sense of control or freedom.  We designed the We Leash to give back that sense of control and freedom.  The section of the Leash your dog holds is slightly longer than the section that goes to his collar or harness, making it unlikely he will feel any pressure.  It’s as close to walking without a leash as is possible while maintaining maximum security.

Envision puppies growing up never having to feel pressure on their collars or harnesses…never knowing the fear that comes with restraint.  Imagine the relief of an adult dog who suddenly realizes the restraint is gone.  No more feelings of vulnerability that lead to reactivity.  No more bolting after small fuzzy creatures as the hunt is over – success is evidenced by the prize held securely in the dog’s mouth in the form of a We Toy.  No more pulling as there is nothing to pull against…just the joy of a walk freely taken.

All dogs, no matter their age, breed, or size, deserve the feeling of freedom a We Leash can give.  It may take a bit of patience to help your dog learn to hold his end of the leash, but we will be with you every step of the way!

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