So I've occupied myself with the summer garden and various chores around the house that have been delayed. But a guy like me needs a project that'll add to my enjoyment in the field. Last year, I built a custom dog box (which continues to be a very successful project, I might add).
This summer, I think I've built a better chain gang. For those of you unaware, the chain gang is a useful tool if you've got a bunch of bird dogs in your care. Trainers use it so an entire pack of dogs can observe others being trained. For me, they make a lot of sense when you're airing, watering, and feeding a string of dogs.
The chain gang lets you hammer just two stakes -- one at each end -- and you hook up a dog every six feet on 18-inch drop chains. It gives the dogs plenty of room to stretch out, drink and eat, do their business, all while not tangling (literally or figuratively) with one another.
After a lot of internet reading, discussions with buddies, and scores of visits to various hardware stores, I came up with a pretty handy system that I think will suit my needs well.
There are some distinct advantages in using cable. First of all, it's significantly cheaper. I got mine for 49 cents a foot at a big-box store, and comparable chain came in at two to four times that much. Cable is also much lighter, and in my opinion, easier to manage and less likely to tangle. Finally, most chain links are just about the perfect size for a dog nail to get caught in... not fun.
Back to the chain (er, cable) gang. I made two four-dog sections that can be combined, something (but hardly the only thing) I learned from my buddy Steve Snell, who knows a thing or two about bird dogs. I made a loop at one end using a quarter-inch aluminum ferrule. I agonized over the best way to attach the ferrules and stops -- a good swaging tool will run you over a hundred dollars, and I couldn't justify that.
The dogs -- Dottie, Vegas, and Ariel the visiting Boston Terrier seemed happy with the setup. I'm looking forward to using it this fall.