Connections Built to Last

Connections Built to Last

  • Allison Hartz

Climbing is part of Ruffwear’s heritage. For more than 23 years, many Ruffwear employees have spent their evenings and weekends shedding layers of skin on boulders, rock walls, big walls, and alpine granite. Our office dogs are also our crag dogs. Smith Rock State Park, our local crag with close to 2,000 routes, is the birth place of sport climbing in the United States and a premiere destination for climbers from around the world. From these roots — in the outdoors, in the sport of climbing, and in our local climbing area — grows the passion for developing climbing-inspired dog gear. This season, we reflected on our experiences with the sport, our emotional connections with our own climbing gear, and of course, our relationships with our dogs in developing our new and updated gear.

Climbing rope - a central component of rock climbing, the rope is perhaps the most important part of the experience. It’s what catches you when you fall. Yet, it’s more than that.

Woman flakes out climbing rope while dog lays on highland dog sleeping bag.

There are rituals with a climbing rope that deepen a climber’s relationship to the sport. Flaking the rope. Tying in with a good figure-eight knot. Carefully inserting the rope through your belay device and locking the carabiner before giving your partner the OK to climb.

Woman gets climbing rope ready while dog looks on.

Then, there’s the connection the rope creates between two climbing partners. A climbing partner is not just someone who is proficient with belaying and rock climbing safety. Your climbing partner knows the guttural sounds you make right before you fall. Even if you’re out of sight, they can feel your movements through the rope. They know whether you’re moving confidently, puzzling out a sequence of movements, or pushing through a strenuous section of the route.

Climber goes up the climb "Five Gallon Buckets" while belayer and dog look up from below at the crag.

All of these intricacies create a delicate dance between the climber and the belayer. Over time, the movements become subconscious, and the bond between two climbing partners is symbolized by the rope connecting them: a little gritty, but strong, supple, and so dependable that you trust it with your life.

Crag dog stands at belayers side.

As climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, and dog people, we’re constantly discovering parallels between our outdoor experiences and our relationships with our dogs. Like our climbing partners, our dogs know us by our subtle movements – reaching for running shoes, putting on a coat, loading gear into the car – and they react to these cues with excitement, anticipation, or curiosity.

Border collie dog gives climber kisses after climb while other dog looks on.

 

We know our dogs by their subtleties, too. Hunched, turning in circles. Hackles up or tail wagging. Tongue out, flopping to the side. Tugging on the leash, focused on something we can’t yet see or smell.

Two climbers with their dogs in approach packs walk out on the trail at Smith Rock.

When it comes to building performance gear for dogs, we draw on these outdoor experiences and how they shape our relationships with our dogs. We find inspiration in the gear we use and how it interplays with the activities we love.

Dog on highlands dog sleeping bag looks up towards to find its human.

A leash is not only our literal connection to our dogs. It’s a statement of our relationship, a representation of how we interact, a symbol of the adventures we love to share.

Two climbers with dogs on knot-a-leashes descend on the trail at Smith.

An invitation to ponder your own connection with your canine companion
and how it’s shaped by your shared adventures and the gear on which you depend.

Two climbers with dogs in laps on knot-a-leashes sit in back of car celebrating the day.

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