My pooch has one from Ace mtn. wear, which is a local NM shop, which has worked great, cordura, w/ reflective stripes, and the (crucial) grab loop. NRS makes one that looks good for $40, which is probably cheaper then the equivalent from Lotus or extrasport, although Lotus makes good stuff.... two things to consider are the security of the neck velcro/ buckle, and the durability of the fabric. one of my friends (RIP Tess ) dogs' CFD would unwrap from around his neck, making it a choke hazard, as well as impossible to pick him up, and just generally wasn't worth a shit since it was unreliable like that. and at least on the rio grande, there are plenty of bushes to shred CFDs.
Oh and BTW, be prepared to dunk your friends if they're drinking tequila at the put-in and decide that the grab loop is for picking lil' homie up, spinning around a couple times and airing pooch into the river.....
I cannot attest to the fit or quality of the ruffwear K9 float coat yet, but I just ordered one from REI-outlet and it looks to be a good vest. It seemed like a great deal on a well thought out vest. They still have a medium size, which might be right for your dog (check out the manufacturer site). Anyway, thought I would let you know because the pfd is a good price already, and if you enter the coupon code GM224 you get an extra 20% off, so it's about 30 dollars. here is a link: http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/48032376.htm?vcat=OUTLET_SSHP_KAYAKING_CANOEING_SA
Of the ones I have seen, I like the Lotus Designs one the best. Its the only one where the foam wraps all the way around the dog and provides some belly protecting. The others are just a slab of foam that gets clipped around the dog but sits on their back. The Lotus ones are slightly more expensive, but not by much. As for build quality, I think the NRS, Ruff Wear and Lotus are fairly comarable. The NRS one is the most "no frills" of the bunch, but the Lotus and Ruff are about the same in frillyness. Both have reflector strips and style patches, whereas the NRS is just a slab of foam with the necessary buckles. All of them have a grab handle, which is definetly necessary for safe boating with your doggy. You really couldn't go wrong with any of these, but I personally would go with the Lotus (in yellow).
My 70lb dog wears the Lotus, but we tried on a bunch at the shop and that fit best, the person that helped us out said it will vary by the dog what fits best. We got it at Alpine Quest in Edwards they had the Lotus, NRS and at least one other. They let the dog come on in just like any customer, great service!
If price matters, they have puppy PFDs at PetsMart that are a lot cheaper than what you'll get at the boat shop. Should have them in the size you need. I got one for my cat and it worked great when he got thrown in at Sunshine Falls!
But seriously, the ones at PetsMart seemed pretty bomber, were cordura, but just not made by Lotus.
The NRS vest is outstanding. My dog's been wearing his for three years now. Fit and function have never been a concern, and all sizes retail for $40. If you ever have an issue with fabric quality return if for a replacement.
The "new" Ruff Wear CFD looks just like it and should work great as well.
I will also praise the puppy PFD from Ace Mtn Wear in Santa fe. They are bomber and well designed. The woman who designed and builds them by hand is the owner of a raft company and two large Labs. She doesn't sell them at Ace anymore. If you are wanting to talk to her about them call 1-800-983-7756 and ask for Chamisa.
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