A few blogs ago I mentioned a letter from Graham, one of our blind listeners (the magazine is also available in audio form through Talking Newspapers). He was asking if anyone did a light-up collar that used something other than LED.
Rosie and Karen came up with two suggestions, but my emails to both lots of people have so far drawn a blank. So I got surfing and stumbled on a product that looked different. Being a techno-phobe I have to admit I wasn't able to decipher whether or not the technology was different so I emailed the company in Canada direct and told them of Graham's quest.
Almost immediately I got a great email back:
Interesting note. I supply a lot (for me a lot) of collars to the Guide Dogs for the Blind schools across North America. From my understanding and observations it is NOT the brightness but the frequency of light which determines if somebody with degenerative eye disease can see it or not.
The first time I actually saw this was at a big dog show in Toronto where a girl with a cane and walking with friends starting shrieking from about 30M away. "I can see it, I can see it!!!" She came over talked and was in the process of buying a collar for her Guide Dog when she started crying. She said she'd had her dog for six years and just realized that when she got home she'd be able to see her dog for the first time. Of course there was about 60 people standing around watching as a result of her initial shrieks and I'm sure most thought she was a paid actress trying to sell my collars but ... all true.
I found out later that the frequency of light that my EL collars display is one of the very last frequencies of light people who are blind can see. I guess the receptors are down near the base of the cones and the top has all been killed off by whatever disease they have. Kind of interesting concept. You can have a very bright light shining in their eyes and they either see nothing or just a painful glare. A soft blue/green glow and ... Eureka. "I can see it!!!"
I have Search and Rescue & Police K9 teams in Austria, Germany, New Zealand etc etc (most sales are into the US of course) who won't touch any other kind of collar or harness. I get emails from guys who have had my collars on SAR dogs for 8 & 9 years and want to know if I do repairs - the battery wire broke.
Let's try and "see" if this dude gets lucky and can see his dog.
It would make a great story in my testimonials pages.
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What a great bloke! Will let you know if Graham has a Eureka moment. Will also let Guide dogs know, I'm sure lots of other partially sighted people would like to hear about this collar.
Dave's just sent this photo of Katie, Dave's Rottie cross, wearing one of his collars.
"The picture of Katie (my Rottie X) is probably the best I have. She's under a walkway lamp so you can see her too. Normally you can see just the collar at night and if the shot is taken too early you can see the dog but the collar doesn't show at all. I did NOT Photo-Shop enhance the photo. "
It was well worth the couple of hours we spent trying to decipher Graham's original letter!
One of Graham's other questions was if we knew anyone near him that did massage and alternative therapies for dogs - he's a fan of our Richard Allport column. Graham lives in Crosby near Liverpool (coincidentally where I grew up!). As I left the area when I was 13, I'm totally out of touch with the dog scene in the North West, has anyone got any suggestions of therapists or holistic vets he might try? Is there any doggie swimming for eg? Often people who run pools are well connected!
Just heard back from Company of Animals and Graham will also have a Visiglo collar coming his way, too to try out. How nice of them.
A late night email from Dave: " ... my collars do not flash. Too many dogs, especially the hi strung working dogs are photo epileptic. Info on my FAQs page regarding that. The only "flash" collar I have has a very slow on/off and is for property patrol, warehouses etc where they need to know where the dog is but the collar does not provide a steady target if there is a bad guy there. Which is precisely why flashing collars are useless for traffic safety. "