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Bring on the rainclouds.
Photo taken 20 November 2010

Product: Outward Hound Foul Weather Coat
Price paid: $19.99 at local Pet Store A (actually $9.99, since my cumulative discount kicked in! Woohoo!)
Size: Small, 21″ ~ 25″, for 10-24 lb. dogs (also available in XS, 15″ ~ 20″ less than 10 pounds, to XL, 30″ ~ 38″, more than 80 lb. dogs)
Color: Red
Product description:

The Outward Hound Foul Weather Coat will keep your pet warm and dry in foul weather. Perfect for rainy and windy conditions. Made from a lightweight, breathable microfiber fabric with a mesh lining to keep your pet comfortable in a wide range of weather conditions. Adjustable design allows for a comfortable fit and non-restrictive movement. Put on or remove in seconds. The Foul Weather Coat is perfect for all outdoor activities. 

Company information: Distributed by the Kyjen Company, Inc.; Huntington Beach, CA 92648.
Country of manufacture: China

Attempts to walk Bowpi in the cold, wind, and rain were getting pretty pathetic. Even when we were going to the big, runfreerunfree dog park, which both dogs love, Bowpi would spend the entire car ride shivering in the back seat just from a brief exposure to the chilly outdoors. It became obvious that some sartorial assistance was necessary.

Brrr...
19 November 2010. Before rain jacket.

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20 November 2010. After rain jacket!

Never having a dog who needed clothing before, I wasn’t sure what to look for. Luckily, the folks at our favorite local pet store were able to find something that fit correctly, seemed to be made of durable yet lightweight fabric, and wasn’t outrageously expensive (like the Ruffwear coats, which cost more than twice my own raincoat!).

The coat is draped on and fastened in the front and under the belly with thick Velcro strips. There are also adjustable elastic straps that can be looped around the back legs. They seem like they would hinder mobility and feel uncomfortable, so we left them loose.

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As you can see, the coat did not appear to restrict her movement in the least.

Design features that I like:

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The pop-up collar with a slot for a leash. This is mainly for those who intend to use the jacket with hood, which fortunately for our purposes, is detachable with button snaps. The hood is definitely not designed with long necks and pricked Basenji ears in mind.

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Yeah, looks pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it?

I also like the two symmetrical side pockets, which are the perfect size for extra doggy bags. However, the reflective safety strip on each side is mostly covered up by company logos.

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That’s my main aesthetic gripe about this coat. The Outward Hound logo appears prominently on both sides and the collar flap of this jacket, which turns my dog into a walking advertisement. I hardly ever wear clothing with logos myself, and I only now realized that I’d prefer the same for my dogs!

The other thing I don’t really like is the Velcro-mesh combo.

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Velcro is cheap and an efficient way to fasten clothing onto a potentially squirmy dog. But you have to be careful when stowing the jacket, lest the Velcro snags onto the mesh and eventually tears it all to shreds. Mesh keeps the coated fabric from rubbing against the dog underneath, protecting both dog and waterproof lining alike. It also provides “breathability” which might be more functional for, say, human athletes who sweat through their skin. But for our canine purposes and specifically for this short-furred Basenji who needs more protection against winter wind and chill, I think we’d rather have something a little thicker and more insulated.

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So we’ll keep looking. I know there are a lot of dog fashion boutiques online, especially for sighthounds, but I needed to see how something would fit in person before I started looking into other options. The Outward Hound Foul Weather Coat is a good starter jacket for our purposes, basic and functional, and does the job for now.

But as I type, car alarms are going off down the street from earth-shaking thunder rolls, and the wind is throwing sheets of water against the windows. The rain isn’t normally so intense where I live here in Northern California, but there’s only going to be more of it, along with lower temperatures. So I suspect this is not the only article of clothing that Bowpi will be wearing this season.

Final Grade: B+