Quality K9 Equipment
If you’re familiar with the story of how and why Kirby K9 started, you probably know that I started sewing my own gear when I was a police K9 handler. I worked for an agency that was very proactive in patrol work and it was not uncommon to have 2-3 K9 tracks a night for suspects that had fled. Our K9 handlers were often wet, muddy, and looked like a little league baseball player who slid into every base all game long. My daughter had taken sewing lessons when she was younger and like most kids, had lost interest with it and stopped sewing. We had purchased a nice household sewing machine for her and I asked her to show me how to use it so I could attempt to repair some gear that was failing.
A few basic repairs led to experimenting with sewing my own leashes and collars. The more I learned about sewing, the more critical I was of the gear I was using. I started to notice weak points in some of my gear and things that just didn’t make sense or could be done better. The area I was highly critical of, was hardware and quality of nylon. This led to months of research and testing trying to come up with the highest quality components I could find. What started as a hobby sewing for myself, quickly turned into sewing for friends and colleagues, and then eventually sewing for the working dog community all over the world. Over the years, sewing machines and equipment have been upgraded to industrial models which has helped speed up production while maintaining quality stitch work.
The “original collar” was the first piece of equipment I produced for sale and to this day is one of my best selling products. I found that using scuba webbing instead of nylon was the perfect solution for working dogs who are in harsh environments that are unforgiving on gear. Not only does scuba webbing hold up better than any type of nylon or leather, but it doesn’t hold moisture meaning it won’t change structurally when it gets wet. Leather must be maintained to remain strong and in working condition, and nylon will rot if not properly dried and taken care of. My favorite part about using scuba webbing is that it is stiff and rigid which helps it keep its form for years. My personal dog wears an original collar that she has worn for 4 years and to this day, the collar looks fantastic and holds its original form. The best hardware I could find was made by Austi Alpin and is called a cobra buckle. There are many copies of this buckle and companies often use alternatives to the cobra buckle and pass it off as a “cobra buckle.” Unless it’s an authentic Austri Alpin cobra buckle, it’s not a buckle that I trust or use.
The “Viribus collar” was spawned from a close friend who handed me a larger cobra buckle and asked me to come up with “the best collar I could imagine.” I spent some time pondering how to make a dog collar which has been around for centuries better than it already is, particularly for the working dog community. My police duty belt was made by a small company and I absolutely loved the way it fit, and how solid it was. Part of the reason for the strength and durability was an inner fitting of velcro followed by an outer layer that added multiple layers of scuba webbing for added strength. It then dawned on me that my duty belt construction was potentially something that would work very well for a working dog collar. After hours of engineering and testing different lengths and layers, the Viribus collar was born and is another best selling collar for police K9 handlers and working dog handlers who want an extremely strong and durable collar.
As Kirby K9 has grown, I have sought out help from manufacturers that could help scale my products to feed demand. The consistent message I heard from every manufacturer was “lower your cost by using cheaper hardware and textiles.” While this makes sense from a business standpoint as it relates to margins and profit, it was an answer that was unacceptable and against the core of why I started Kirby K9. I will never sacrifice quality to make a cheaper product. There are many manufacturers of working dog equipment and the users in the field always talk about the quality and durability of Kirby K9 products. Ultimately, I take great pride in knowing that K9 handlers all over the world are trusting my equipment when their lives and their K9’s lives are on the line.