Your service dog alerts you minutes before your seizure starts, opens the cupboard or picks up things from the floor since you can't bend down. He brings back a sense of self confidence and independence to your life and, for that, you love him madly. Treat him to a homemade service vest that will protect him from the environment's elements and identify him.
Measure the dog's chest and abdomen by placing the measuring tape behind the front legs. Pull the tape around the the dog's body along the widest part of his rib cage to get an accurate girth measurement. Place the measuring tape at the neck. Run it down the spine to the tail.
Search online for a service-dog vest pattern or have a vest handy that you already own. Trace or sketch the pattern on butcher paper using your dog's measurements. Add 2 inches to the measurement to allow for adjustments. Cut the pattern and lay it on your dog. Pull the straps down and make sure it provides a good fit. If not, resketch the vest and make the appropriate adjustments.
Choose any pattern or colors you like, but keep in mind that the best fabrics to choose include fleece with rip-stop nylon or an air-mesh fabric for a lightweight feel. Fold your fabric in half and place it on a clean surface. Then fold the paper pattern in half and secure it to the fabric using pins. Cut the fabric carefully along the pattern lines.
Cut strips of fabric webbing. Sew it along the edges of the back of the fabric. This keeps the edges intact and helps prevent frays.
Place a Velcro strap on one of the belt-like shapes. Sew the Velcro to the fabric. Repeat on the other belt-like shape. Sew the Service Dog Registry patch on the back of the vest so that the dog can quickly and clearly be identified as a service dog. It's important to remember that service dogs are granted to people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A dog who is trained as a puppy in obstacle avoidance, directed guiding and intelligent disobedience can become a certified service dog.
- A durable, bright fabric is best.
- Fabric glue can be used in place of a sewing machine to attach the webbing and Service Dog Registry patch.
- Make sure the Velcro's fuzzy and sticky sides are attached properly before sewing.
- An improper fit can interfere with blood circulation, movement and breathing. Also, a dog's legs can get caught if it's too loose.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.