(90) Molly Hits the Road with a Backpack and a Sling

Molly, the service dog 

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Dog Gone It!

You would think a Saint Bernard and Great Pyrenees mix canine would love the cold. After all, both breeds originated in cold weather. While Molly loves a romp in the snow, she cannot tolerate falling snow, rain, or hail.

As in many states, Colorado’s weather is unusual. We have seen rain, hail, snow, thunder, and lightening nearly every day since winter. If it falls from overhead, Molly avoids it as a horse avoids prairie dogs. Even though we take her for walks and chain her outside where she has shelter to do her business, she prefers the comfort of our carpeted basement to poop. With her new lean diet, she has taken to digging into wastebaskets to help herself to a treat, licking an empty wrapper.

I know these are signs of a serious discipline problem—one that we need to control. William promises to call her trainer and arrange for remedial lessons. I believe her behavior results from rebellion to her diet that limits her to four cups of special food a day with no treats or snacks. While she is close to her goal weight, it appears that her rebellious heart is greater than her desire to look good in a bikini. Either way, I am tempted to tell her to hit the road.

Of course, I love Molly and she is an awesome dog when she is working as William’s service animal. I would never get rid of her. So, the title of the blog is not what you might expect.

I wanted to share with you some cool items available for service dogs that can make your life much easier.

The Backpack 

The service dog vest generally comes with a pocket for your dog’s identification and training certificate. Side zippered compartments allow you to pack paper towels, plastic bags, and other small supplies. You can Molly is dressed in her service vestpurchase a vest on-line from a number of vendors such as ADASDF (Active Dogs Academy Service Dog Foundation, Inc.), Workingservicedog.com, Pet Joy, and Service Dog Gear, just to name a few. These companies also make saddlebags for large breed dogs, which can carry supplies for the owner with special needs.

ADASDF also makes backpacks for the dog owner to tote with embroidery of your dog’s breed. My all-time favorite item is the patriotic vest that costs about $80. It is carried by most vendors of service dogs. The only problem is that the vest does not have a visible ID pocket.

The vest is an important, albeit not required, uniform that tells people your dog is a real service dog—especially when the ID is visible. When William needed to appear in traffic court, the clerk told him that as long as Molly wore the orange vest, he could bring his service dog with him to court. This is, of course, not a permitted requirement and does violate ADA. Although the law does not allow your service dog to be denied access because he lacks a vest or identification, it helps ensure you are not hassled or denied access. It also tells people your dog is working and not to pet.

The Sling 

When we first acquired a service dog, I found a canvas car seat cover for our backseats. Although we wanted Tigger to stay in the back compartment area of our SUVs, Tigger refused. Consequently, protecting our vehicle upholstery became important. I purchased the tarp from Harriet Carter. It fits any size vehicle and hooks over the headrests. I noticed the company also sells a travel safety barrier that prevents the nosey dog from peering between the two front seats. Both sell for between $20 and $30.

With Molly being such a big girl, we found that she often rolled off the seat when braking suddenly. She would get wedged or would cram her legs against the seat. I found the perfect solution with Scout’s Seat Cover from Duluth Trading Company, which works like a sling. It hooks over both front and back seats for a seamless fit. Although it is more expensive at $50, it prevents rolling off the seat and keeps the nosey Miss Molly from sticking her nose between the two front seats or digging into our goodies stored on the floor.

I should mention that this blog is not intended to advertise any particular product or endorse any company. I have not received any compensation for listing any link or product. Nor have I received any free product (neither has Miss Molly).

Molly is now well prepared to hit the road in style. Of course, she will be with us and not venturing out on her own. I still have not found that perfect bikini for her new figure but with all of the rain, snow, and cold, I do not think we need to worry about it just yet. If you do know of a source for doggy perfume that prevents a wet dog from smelling like an old carpet, Miss Molly would appreciate hearing from you.

Post your Comments: 

Do you have a special product or vendor that makes life easier for you or your service dog? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.