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Mushing Innovations

Caroline Blair-Smith's Stretchy Necklines

Mornington Logo MORNINGTON CRESCENT SLED DOGS
Caroline Blair-Smith & Andy Bartleet . 103 Patte Brook Rd . Albany ME 04217
Email: sledpets@megalink.net . Internet: www.sledpets.com . Tel: (207) 824-7292

Running on narrow trails through the woods, I’ve never quite felt I could dispense with necklines from my gangline system. I’d like to, though. My dogs have never registered any complaint, but I just assume that being tugged around by the collar every time you get too far out of place can’t be much fun. A friend told me about working for an Alaskan kennel where they use stretchy necklines. I experimented with them last winter and all of this fall, decided I like them and thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

When there’s no tension on them, the stretchy neckline is the same length as my standard neckline: short enough that it’s pretty rare for a dog to get a front leg over it. When the dog needs a little more room, it stretches an additional 40% or so. The extra six or seven inches gives dogs a moment to recover from a stumble, swing wide around a rough patch of trail or grab a mouthful of snow before being tugged along by the collar. I’ve especially appreciated how forgiving these necklines are with young pups who are still trying to figure out what all the lines will let them do; as they move out of position, they feel the gentle stretch first and soon learn to use it as a guide to avoid a big yank. I have seen no increase in wandering, dipping or other non-pulling behaviors; most of the dogs run along with the necklines completely slack, as before. The stretchy necklines just give them more space to run according to the terrain and to take care of business as needed.

I never did find out how the Alaska kennel made them, so there may be lots of better ideas out there. Anyway, I make mine by tying a loop of 1/8” shock (bungee) cord into the middle section of an over-long neckline--all the length not already filled by the splice. The pictures below show the construction of a neckline that expands from about 14” to a little over 20”.

Stretch 1

Begin by making an over-long neckline. (This one’s 8-strand polyethylene, which I don’t normally use, but the pictures are clearer. 16-strand works the same way, and is actually a little easier to work with.) Wrap electrician’s tape around the shock cord and cut to the length of the neckline without the eyes.

Stretch 3

Insert a fid into the center section of the neckline, starting as close to the splice as possible and milk the neckline along it. Wrap the middle of the shock cord around the eye and insert both ends into the fid.

Push the fid out of the neckline, again getting as close to the splice as possible. Make sure the ends of the shock cord are inserted fully into the fid. Stretch 4
Stretch 5 Remove the fid and keep hold of the ends of the shock cord or the neckline will return to its normal length, sucking the ends back in where you’ll never find them.
Wrap one end of the shock cord around the neckline and tie a waterman knot (also called a single fisherman’s bend). For help with this knot, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterman%27s_knot Stretch 6
Stretch 7 Tuck one tail of the waterman knot into the neckline and, creating slack from the far end if necessary, tuck the knot completely into the neckline.

The finished neckline with no tension.

Stretch 8

The finished neckline under tension. (Yes, I am holding it with my foot to free up a hand to operate the camera.) You can see the bulge of the knot at about the 14” mark. To finish, a 1/4” snap gets girth hitched to one end and the other end is girth hitched onto the center line, or put a snap at each end and it’s a leader neckline.

Stretch 9

 

Provided by Caroline Blair-Smith, November 25, 2008

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