Our buddy Simcha posted a great question on the comments Saturday: I always think of windchimes when I see videos of “The Herd”. Do you wear special tags to make this pretty noise? Is there a purpose behind it? I’ve always wondered.
So let’s start with the purpose. We live in the small town of Maggie Valley, NC, which is nestled on the east side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (we can actually see the park from our house). According to the National Park Service, about 1500 Black Bears live within the park boundaries and countless others live in the surrounding area such as the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, we had a run in with a black bear just last year.
In addition to the bears, we have bobcats, elk, (both of which we have seen) and lots of creatures you do not want to get up close and personal with (for example, skunks). The Park Service for years denied that Mountain Lions live in the area, but they have started even acknowledging that they might be here as well. No, we have not seen a Mountain Lion (sorry, Huffle).
Anyway, since we love hiking all of the various trails in this area, we would prefer to see these magnificent animals from a distance, but not up close and personal. So the idea is to make noise and bear bells are a way to do that. We don’t personally use bear bells, but the tags work the same way.
So, that’s the why. Now the how. Each member of the Herd actually has TWO collars, as pictured here:
The top collar is a break away collar made by Chinook & Co. We became a huge fan of these collars one night when Rusty and Natasha were wrestling and Rusty’s jaw got caught in Natasha’s collar. The more Rusty tried to pull away, the tighter the collar cinched around Natasha’s neck. Natasha nearly passed out before I was able to cut the collar away and get the two dogs separated. I had never been so scared as those few seconds and will never forget the sounds of Rusty’s screams and the look on Natasha’s face. I instantly took the old collars off and ordered breakaway collars.
The lower collar is a limited slip collar and is the collar The Herd wears when out for a hike, though they never wear them inside the house. They simply slip over the head, but can tighten when attached to a leash, but never tighten so far as to choke.
Both collars are demonstrated in this video:
So the jingle? As you can see in the picture above, the breakaway collar has an ID tag (dog’s name, address, and phone numbers) from Go-Tags and the Rabies Tag (often required in many parks to prove the dog has had the required rabies vaccination). The limited slip collar also has an ID tag from Go Tags for two reasons: 1) makes it easy to figure out whose collar is whose hanging on the hook by the door and 2) a second ID just in case the break away collar comes off while out for a hike. Thus, there are three metal tags that clang while we walk. Multiply that by six dogs, and you have a lot of jingling.
So, Simcha, there is the how and why we jingle while we walk.