In search of ponies: Funnels funny, but effective

The T-shirt had nothing to do with fashion; it was hiding something, or better yet, protecting it.

Underneath the black cotton there was a shoulder wrapped in bandages which were holding gauze and ointment to a wound that really needed a break from dirt, bacteria and, perhaps most of all, the attention of the wounded himself.

Trying to prevent a dog from agitating a wound is a challenge, regardless of the dog.

They just can't leave them alone, and even if they would, all around them is a maelstrom of things — dirt, bacteria, particles and more — that threaten the healing process.

Finding a solution to keep a rough and tumble dog from doing damage while at the same time being able to enjoy outside time can be challenging at best.

And though it looked ridiculous, in this particular scenario, a snug-fitting human shirt seemed the best means to keep the wound clean, at least until he figured out how to take it off — which as it turned out, he didn't.

He did however succeed in stretching the shirt until the neckline hung to his knees, giving him free access to his shoulder.

Humiliating as they may be, there's a reason why critters get big plastic funnels strapped around their necks.

Simply put, they make it near impossible for an animal to reach bandages, wounds, stitches and the like.

Sure, they make for funny or pathetic Internet photos, and watching a pet try to work around them can provide hours of entertainment, but as a general rule, they are used because they work.

Sympathy mixed with the ever-human urge to build a better mousetrap has led several entrepreneurs to design alternatives — the T-shirt not included — some better than others.

One such inventive pet owner, a Texas woman whose bird was pulling out its feathers, came up with a close fitting, wide collar design for everything from birds to dogs and cats — which she eventually named after her bird, Hagar.

While the humiliation of wearing a cone around the neck is not to be underestimated, she also believed keeping a pet comfortable and not adding to their stress by strapping a plastic funnel around their neck was pretty important.

In fact, there are many options beyond the cone, including inflatable collars that look like a child's pool toy and several manufacturers also now make foam doughnut-like collars.

While they are certainly not as overstated as a huge plastic cone, and are without a doubt, more comfortable, it's hard to argue a dog looks any less bizarre with an inner tube wedged around its neck.

And all of them make a T-shirt look pretty normal, even if it is a short lived, marginally effective option.

Finding a solution to keeping pets semi-incapacitated — even if cartoonish in execution and highly unlikely to endear one to their pets — are motivated by a desire to keep furry loved ones from making their injuries worse.

Moping around and finding creative ways to escape the torture devices, in turn, motivates humans to find a better solution, a tougher T-shirt, a tighter inner tube or a bigger funnel.

In the meantime, cone, pool toy wearing critters can rest assured that the more outlandish and ridiculous the contraptions are in fact a badge of honor, a symbol of intelligence and, most definitely, a testament to a defeated human at the end of the leash.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: or on the web at:

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