Keeping Cali Safe on Dark Winter Walks

Golden retriever Cali wears a blue lighted collarI read this article in WDJ recently: High Visibility Clothing and Gear For You and Your Dog. Since it’s dark in the morning when I walk Cali, and dark after work when I walk her, this topic has been on my mind, and I’ve been trying out different things to make her — both of us — more visible.

For a few years, I’ve had a light-up collar for her. Jana had one (pink, of course); Koala has one. They recharge with a USB charger, and the charge lasts a long time, maybe a couple of weeks. I use the non-flashing setting because the flashing light is annoying to me, and, I am sure, to the dog. But it’s effective:  It makes her visible from quite a distance!

But the WDJ article points out that an approaching car won’t see the light if the dog is right in the path of its headlights, since the bright light of the headlights will sort of cancel out the softer colored light.

They suggest using reflective gear instead. I think we need both.

Since I read the article, I have been watching for cyclists and dog walkers when I walk or drive in the dark. Often, when I am driving, I’ll notice a walker or cyclist approaching from the side — well before I’d be able to pick them up in my headlights. I want to know they’re there before I am heading straight for them as they cross the street! Those (rare few) who have lights are visible, which is very helpful for keeping my blood pressure at its normal level.

Unfortunately, many walkers and cyclists do not have any; some lack reflectors as well. If I notice anything, it’s a dark shape (with a death wish) moving off to the side. Scares the crap out of me sometimes.

I also agree with the point made in the WDJ article that reflectors are useful when you happen upon someone strolling across the street, right in your path!

So, clearly, Cali and I need both; her pretty lighted collar is a good start, but not sufficient.

To that end, I bought some reflective tape and attached it to Cali’s harness. I left for a trip before I got to really test it out, though. Cali also has a spiffy winter coat that has reflective trim. It definitely helps, but she’s only worn the coat a couple of times so far this winter, since the weather hasn’t been very cold yet.

For myself, I have a reflective strap that I can wear over my coat, and I have a headlamp or flashlight with me on most walks. There’s got to be better gear, though, designed for runners or cyclists. I’ll check into that. Cali and I both need to be able to see and be seen on our winter walks!

What do you use? If you have suggestions, write them in comments!

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