Roxanne Pettipas is the founder and CEO of Buddy Belts.
What motivated you in 1997 to create the concept that became the Buddy Belt harness?
I designed the very first Buddy Belt (BB) prototype out of necessity for my miniature dachshund named Buddy. Whenever we would go for walks, he would cough and gag, and I knew I needed something that would take the strain off his neck. But when I went looking around for a harness, I was not happy with product designs on the market. An art teacher by profession, I was used to improvising with everyday materials, so I decided to experiment with the tire rubber used by students in my class. It worked! I came up with something that looked like a lady’s bra—except there were holes where the cups should have been. The result: a single-buckle, step-in harness that took the pressure off Buddy’s neck and trachea, not to mention the worry and strain on my heart. Not long after I was evolving and fine-tuning the prototype, roaming vintage stores for old-fashioned leather coats and gathering remnants from leather shops. Buddy wore my initial prototypes around town and attracted a lot of attention—people would ask, “Where did you get that harness?” followed by “I want one!” and so Buddy Belts began.
How has the Buddy Belts’ patented design helped to save the lives of dogs?
Buddy Belt’s unique, low-cut design minimizes stress and strain on the neck, trachea and spine. Due to the nature of this design, there have been many instances where pups have been in life-threatening situations but they survived because they were wearing a Buddy Belt. We have received many testimonials over the years that confirm this claim. There have been dogs that have slipped over the edges of cliffs and were safely pulled back. There were dogs that got caught in elevators while attached to a “flexi” leash but survived because they were not strangled. There have been dogs that were pulled up into the safety of their owner’s arms when being charged or attacked by other dogs. There’s even a recent story of a wiener dog that jumped out of a moving car window but because of the Buddy Belt harness he was safety pulled back inside the car.
Also, it should be mentioned that when we first launched Buddy Belt in 2001, we connected with professionals from many areas of the pet industry, including veterinarians. It was through our discussions with these pet professionals, especially veterinarians and pet owners, too, that we learned of the prevalence of “collapsed” tracheas due to pressure from traditional neck collars. This is of particular concern to smaller breed dogs like Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas. Long-bodied dogs like the Dachshund are prone to spinal issues. We believe that due to the Buddy Belt design, our Dachshund Buddy maintained a healthy neck and spine throughout his long life.
What can you tell us about your collections and accessories?
Essentially the Buddy Belt harness is the star product. Accessories include leashes, liners, ID collars, poo bags, key fobs and charms. Although the number of SKUs is quite high, it is primarily reflective of the many Buddy Belt collections and multiple sizes (12 in total).
Our Premium collection (Red, Black, Pink, Blue, Caramel) is always available. Luxury, Elite and Special Editions are limited and reflect varying price points. We use different colors, patterns and textures, and different hardware finishes to distinguish each collection or edition. Limited and Special Editions are launched seasonally or revolve around special events or themes. For example, we produced a Japan-themed collection with three colors: Mount Fuji, Matcha and Sakara, with charms to match. This collection was a hit in Japan and throughout our global market. We look forward to producing new limited collections and have something very special in the works for 2020.
How would you describe the legacy of Buddy the doxie?
It really is quite remarkable how an 11-pound Dachshund can leave a legacy that will not only survive most of us reading this, but go far beyond. Because of Buddy, hundreds of thousands of dogs will no longer cough or choke when being walked. Because of Buddy, hundreds of thousands of dogs will no longer suffer chronic vision problems as they age. Because of Buddy, hundreds of thousands of dog walkers, dog owners, pet hoomans will no longer strangle their pooches when wishing to gently restrain their charges.
Because of Buddy, a product and Global brand was created in his name to foster care and humane treatment of dogs and pets alike, the Buddy Belt. Because of Buddy, the Buddy Belt was created in his name to honor the magnificent creature he was, the love and devotion we had for him and will hold dearly to our hearts for all of our days. This is a legacy.
Buddy passed on August 25, 2014. We continue to travel the globe honoring Buddy’s legacy and promoting the BB brand.