Following my recent tale about my attempts to walk two dogs on separate leads, a couple of fellow greyhound owners (thanks Falyn, Sally and Fatima!!) suggested that we get ourselves a splitter, so that we can walk together nicely on one lead. I’m glad they did…after getting my hands on one of these bad boys (see below), my hound-walking experience is now SO much more enjoyable and much less of an exercise in contortion.
A splitter is a special attachment that hooks on to your main lead by a central ring and then splits off to attach to the dogs’ individual collars. As you can see from the picture, you can apparently have up to 4 dogs on one lead at a time - although I reckon you would need some pretty strong arms to walk 4 determined greyhounds all at once…especially anywhere near a cat!
I had wondered about splitters before but had no idea (a) whether or not they were suitable for Greyhounds; and (b) whether I could use one along with Mila’s Gentle Leader. However, the potential benefits were too good to ignore, so I emailed Frank at Ezeleash (http://www.ezeleash.co.nz) to see what he recommended we do.
Frank is a huge supporter of GAP and has a greyhound of his own, occasionally fostering another. He informed me that he had had great success using splitters with the hounds, although he had never before tried one in conjunction with a Gentle Leader. He suggested that we do a little experiment – and sent me both a Long splitter and a Short splitter (the difference being the length of lead between the central ring and the dog) for us to test and report back on. The splitters arrived in the post and away we went.
Straight away, the change was amazing!! I could walk the dogs with one hand wrapped around the lead and the other free (to keep warm in my pocket) and there was no more worrying about tangled dogs, tied up legs or the need to reposition myself to keep out of the way. Because the dogs were so closely linked, they had to work together and weren’t as keen on trying to wander off in different directions. Everything was less of a struggle…where had this magical device been all my life??
The hounds had mixed thoughts about it all. As the rookie, Tommy was very enthusiastic about the idea of walking alongside his new favourite friend and letting her guide him around the block – there was much tail wagging and face licking to show his approval of the idea. Whereas the boss, Mila, was not such a fan, preferring not to be followed around so closely on her mini-missions. When I first put the lead on her, she looked at Tommy standing right beside her smiling and then looked up at me with eyes that said ‘You cannot be serious?! She then proceeded to spend a good chunk of the first couple of walks trying to get away from poor Tom, ending up only dragging him along beside her. It was a Catch-22 – either walk with the splitter, or don’t walk at all. Not really a choice at all when you are a greyhound.
Mila didn’t seem at all concerned about the additional attachment (now having the Gentle Leader, the splitter AND the lead) even though it gave her less freedom of movement than if she had been on her own lead. Eventually, she got the hang of the whole thing (perhaps realising that Tommy’s not such a horrible walking buddy after all??) and we are now even at the stage where she can walk without the Gentle Leader a lot more sensibly than she did before, with Tommy (instead of me) unwittingly acting as counter weight whenever she wants to pull away somewhere.
In the week we spent trialling the splitters, we quickly became a well-oiled walking machine. You see on our walks, Mila is all about the smells, spending most of our time with her nose in the grass sniffing out what’s been happening since we last walked past. Tommy is the eyes and ears of the operation – head constantly moving and ears forward. I’m really just there to act as tour guide (and to clean up the mess). The splitter helps us do all of that (and communicate our findings!!) in an orderly fashion, with less pulling, less tangling and much less fuss!
So, with our (very) scientific experiment complete and the reports back to Frank positive, we decided to go with the short splitter. At first I thought it would be too restrictive for the big (and sometimes awkward) dogs but I actually found that my control with the short splitter is much better and the hounds themselves seem to prefer the structure a bit more too. Frank very generously allowed me to keep the splitter free of charge and has now put our testimonial on the Ezeleash website.
To anyone thinking about getting a second, third or fourth dog – I would highly recommend firstly, that your next dog be a Greyhound and secondly, that you get yourself a splitter (from Ezeleash) ASAP. If I’m honest, the walking thing was one of my main hesitations in having a second dog about the place...now, I feel much more confident and in control - another tick in the “Two Hounds” column. Hooray!