Many people have approached me to ask me where I found the "wicket" I use to measure my dogs height. When I tell them I invented and made it myself I've been advised that I should make mass quantities of them and sell them to show dog people.
Despite all the favorable comments and the encouragement to become a wicket entrepreneur, I decided to respectfully decline from embarking on a new career just yet.
Mostly because I have tried several times in the past to "market" one of my "inventions"....and I have boxes fulla stuff in every nook and cranny, waiting for the next time I have the gumption to have a Garage Sale. I have no more friends that I can give cleverly dressed Teddy Bears for Christmas.
So, THIS time I think I will just divulge my secrets and teach anyone who is interested how to make this nifty, thrifty wicket all by themselves.
I devised this simple apparatus several years ago and have given, loaned and lost more of them than I still have. They can literally be made for pennies, and probably with items you already have lying around the house.
I have Norwegian Elkhounds, so the dimensions I will give you here are what I use for my own dogs. Once you learn the basics you can customize your wickets to suit your own breeds. You can make a wicket to measure anything up to a 35" dog.
The materials you will need to make one wicket that will measure up to a 22" dog are:
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Two sturdy yardsticks
Two heavy duty wooden, hinged clothespins
A good staple gun that will handle at least
3/8" staples (1/2" staples are even better)
(note: dog's measuring over 22" will need wickets made from three yardsticks. Over 35"---maybe yardsticks glued to 1" x 2"s will work.)
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You are going to cut 13" off of each yardstick. The first thing I have to stress is that you cut this smaller piece off of the right end!
Cut off the higher numbers..i.e...cut at the 23" mark.
This will leave you with 2-23" pieces and 2-13" pieces.
Glue and then staple one 13" piece to the two 23" uprights in the shape of an upside-down "U". (See the illustration at the bottom of these directions.)
It's important to make sure the corners are square
before putting the staples in or you will not get accurate measurements. The staples should be long enough to go through both thicknesses of wood and protrude far enough out the back that they can be hammered down for extra stability. For this reason, be sure to place some thick cardboard padding down to "catch" the sharp end of the staples. Not using padding can result in holes in whatever you are using for a work table.
The second 13" piece is your measuring guide. It is simply attatched to the side supports with the two clothespins at whatever measurement that you think is the right height for the dog you are checking. So essentially, your first measurement is a guess.
Before we go on with the actual measuring process there are a few other things to learn. You should find this wicket to be as accurate, if not more so, than any expensive official wicket you can get your hands on. But, you have to lay a little groundwork with the dog, and you have to practice to learn how to use it
First, it is important that puppies learn to stand for the stick at an early age so they aren't afraid of it. We start our puppies with tiny, baby wickets at about 5 weeks of age. (They need practice too.)
It's also important that the dog be measured on the grooming table. Measuring on the ground throws off your perspective, allows the dog to slouch or lean without you being able to tell he is doing it, and makes it very difficult to "eyeball" your stacking job. You may as well stick a yardstick beside the dog and use a pencil across his shoulders...NO method is totally accurate with the dog on the ground.
The dog should be stacked with it's front legs planted well under the body, perpendicular to the table. No slouching...no tip toes.
Once you have your dog trained to the table and accustomed to a light-weight wooden thingy hanging on their shoulders, you should have no problems getting a nearly perfect measurement.
Stack the dog as you would in the show ring. Have someone help you if necessary, by baiting the dog to have him rock forward slightly, into his front. Adjust the moveable bar to the height you THINK he is. Place the wicket at the highest point of his shoulder. If you were right the wicket should be slightly OFF the table, and a light pressure on it should make it JUST touch the table. If pressure does NOT make the wicket touch, adjust the clothespins and the bar a little higher and keep adjusting until you get the desired result. If the wicket touches the table too easily, and you can fit your finger under the wicket at the shoulder, the dog is obviously shorter than you thought and you will need to adjust the bar down.
The slight pressure is applied to allow for hair in coated breeds. We've found, in our breed, that puppies can loose 1/4" of height when they lose their puppy coat.
And we don't stop with one measurement. While we have the dog on the table we make several measurements to be certain that it comes out the same more than once. A dog can slouch, rock back or stretch too far for that cookie your helper is baiting him with and throw off your measurement.
But practice makes perfect...it doesn't take long to get the hang of this and then people are going to ask YOU where you got that cool wicket!
Well, there you are. Your project for today. I hope my directions and illustration are clear and easy to follow. If not, feel free to contact me and I'll try to clarify anything you find difficult to understand.