Title:
Pet Leash Carried By A Pet
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The system has two parts, a carrier and a leash handle housing. The carrier attaches to a pet. The carrier also has structure for the leash handle housing to engage the carrier. Some of the engagement structure helps secure the carrier and leash handle housing together. Some of the structure is designed to be released so that user can pull the leash handle housing from the carrier. A leash on the housing connects to the carrier or elsewhere on the pet. A retraction mechanism in the housing can retract the leash or allow it to retract so that the pet can move away from the user.



Inventors:
Olenick, David (Topanga, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/963391
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
12/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H75/34
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Primary Examiner:
EVANS, EBONY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SoCAL IP LAW GROUP LLP (WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A system for a user to connect to a pet comprising: a carrier attachable to the pet; a leash handle housing removably attachable to the carrier; and a leash handle mechanism in the leash handle housing and a leash attached to the leash handle mechanism, the leash handle mechanism permitting the leash to extend from the leash handle and retracting the leash into the leash handle housing.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the carrier has a recess, and the leash handle housing further comprises structure engaging the recess when the carrier and leash handle housing are attached to each other.

3. The system of claim 1 the wherein leash handle housing further comprises a pair of spaced-apart arms extending from the leash handle housing and a handle extending between the spaced-apart arms.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein leash handle housing further comprises a pair of spaced-apart arms extending from the leash handle housing, the carrier further comprising a spring-detent connection to engage at least one of the spaced-apart arms.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein leash handle housing further comprises a pair of spaced-apart arms extending from the leash handle housing, the carrier further comprising a slider mounted for sliding within the carrier and engageable with a portion of at least one of the spaced-apart arms.

6. The system of claim 1 further comprising at least one slot on the carrier and at least one tab on the leash handle housing for engaging the at least one slot when the carrier and leash handle housing engage each other.

7. The system of claim 1 further comprising a spool lock engageable with the leash handle mechanism to prevent the leash from retracting or advancing when the spool lock is engaged.

8. An apparatus for connecting to a pet, the apparatus comprising a carrier and means for connecting the carrier to the pet, a leash handle housing, a retractor mechanism inside the leash handle housing and a leash attached to the retractor mechanism, the carrier and leash handle housing being removably connected to each other.

9. A method of connecting a user and pet together comprising: attaching a carrier to the pet; attaching a handle housing to the carrier through engaging structure on the handle housing with structure on the carrier, the handle housing having a leash attachable to the pet; and the user removing the handle housing from the carrier to permit the pet to move away from the user by advancing the leash from the handle housing.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field

Retractable pet leashes.

2. General Background and State of the Art

Many pet owners use retractable leashes. They allow the pet (usually a dog) to walk or run farther from the human user. The user also can retract the leash to maintain the dog closer to the user. In addition, when the leash is detached from the dog's collar or harness, the leash retracts so that the user does not have the leash dragging from the handle. Nevertheless, that arrangement requires the user to carry the handle while the dog walks off-leash.

Applicant recognizes that owners of pets other than dogs can use a leash attached to a collar or harness on the pet However, dog owners use leashes more frequently than cat owners, and dogs and cats are the most common household pets taken outside. Therefore, unless from the context the description applies only to dogs, the use of “dog” encompasses other pets.

SUMMARY

In applicant's system, the dog carries the leash handle and the handle's housing. The system has two subsystems. The first, a carrier, attaches to the dog harness. The second is a leash handle housing and its retraction mechanism. The carrier and handle housing attach to each other such that the user can disengage the handle housing from the carrier. A leash extends from the handle mechanism in the handle housing and attaches to the carrier or elsewhere to the dog. The handle mechanism has a retraction mechanism that allows the leash to play out so that the dog can move away from the user, but the retraction mechanism is spring wound to retract the leash. A stop on the handle mechanism can lock out the retraction mechanism.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of a dog carrying an exemplary embodiment the carrier and handle housing. The housing is detached from the carrier.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the exemplary carrier and handle housing attached to each other.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the carrier and handle housing attached to each other.

FIG. 4 is a perspective, partially cut-away view of an exemplary embodiment of the handle housing and handle mechanism.

FIG. 5 is a rear view of an exemplary embodiment of the carrier.

FIG. 6 is an bottom view of an exemplary embodiment of the carrier.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the carrier.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the handle housing mounted on a carrier.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the handle housing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Dog or other pet 10 carries a harness 12 (FIG. 1). The harness shown in FIG. 1 is only an example of the many available styles. Some are collars that attach around a dog's neck, but the version shown in FIG. 1 attaches around the dog's back 14 and the forearms 16. The exemplary embodiments may be too large to attach to a dog's neck collar, especially small collars for smaller dogs. The FIG. 1 harness also has an optional extension 18 rearward along the dog's back, which forms a coat to protect the dog from rain, snow or cold weather.

The system that users connect to their dog includes two subassemblies. The first is a carrier, foundation or base that attaches to the dog, and the second is the leash handle housing and its associated retraction mechanism, leash and handle. The user holds the handle when walking with the dog, and the handle housing attaches to the carrier so that the dog carries the carrier and handle. The exemplary embodiment of the carrier 20 is rectangular and has additional supports and recesses. The carrier could be more rounded or have a non-rectangular shape. See FIGS. 2, 3, 5 and 6.

The carrier can be formed of any suitable material. Rigid, lightweight materials such as plastic are preferred, but wood, metal or other material would work. However, they may be more costly and be heavier. Applicant prefers injection molded plastic because it is light and rigid. The injection molding process can form openings or hollow regions to decrease weight. Semi-rigid material also may function properly. Exposed surfaces may be covered with real or artificial leather or fabric for a pleasing look. Because the materials will be exposed to weather, they should be corrosion resistant, coated or painted to resist the elements.

The sidewalls 22, 24, 26 and 28 are generally planar and vertical in the exemplary embodiment, but they could be angled or contoured. The bottom has a central curved section 30 (FIG. 5) to conform to the dog's back. Optional soft cloth or foam material 32 in the curved section may make the carrier feel more comfortable to the dog. The bottom walls 34 and 36 (FIGS. 5 and 6) beyond the curved section are flat. As FIG. 6 shows, recesses 38 and 40 inside bottom walls 34 and 36 allow ventilation and are spaces for adding soft material. A cloth placed on the dog's back under the carrier could substitute for soft material attached to the carrier. Center piece 42 (FIGS. 5 and 6) supports the center of the carrier on the dog's back.

Applicant anticipates having different size carriers and handle housings for different size pets.

Straps 44 and 46 extend through aligned slots 48, 50, 52 and 54 in sidewalls 24 and 26. See primarily FIGS. 2 and 3. The straps also may pass through openings (not shown) in centerpiece 42. The straps go around the front in front of and behind the dog's forelegs to secure the carrier to the dog. Instead of straps, plastic arms could extend through the slots. The plastic arms could be part of an H-shaped structure with the arms parallel and with a connecting arm between the parallel arms. Flexible straps attach to the ends parallel arms outside the slots.

The molding process creates has two upright supports 56 and 58 on carrier 20 (principally FIGS. 4, 5 and 7). Upright slot 60 separates the supports. The supports' rear surfaces 62 and 64 are circular to accommodate cylindrical surfaces of the handle housing (FIGS. 3, 4 and 5). Leash 66 extends through the slot into the housing for the handle mechanism.

Leash handle housing 70 (FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9) is formed of similar materials as the base or carrier. It includes two sidewalls 72 and 74. Arms 76 and 78 extend rearward from the sidewalls. The arms hold a rounded handle 80 and may allow the handle to rotate. Handle 80 preferably is made from material that is comfortable to hold because the user normally holds the handle while walking a dog on leash. Instead of a rounded handle, the handle could be webbing between the arms. The arms also could bend around toward each other to form an integral handle.

Two horizontal plates 86 and 88 extend toward the center from sidewalls 72 and 74 (FIG. 3). Upper and lower plates 90 and 92 are secured to the horizontal plates and two each other to hold the sidewalls to the handle housing. Both plates may be divided. Both plates also have circular openings (not shown) to accommodate part of the retraction mechanism that mounts within retraction housing 100. The inside edges of horizontal plates 86 and 88 are cut out to accommodate the retraction mechanism.

The exemplary retraction mechanism mounts in retractor housing 100. The mechanism includes a spool 102 with teeth 104 about the periphery (FIG. 4). The spool has an inner annular wall 106 and an outer annular wall 108. Coil spring 110 mounts within the inner annular wall and attaches to hub 112 and the inside of the inner annular wall. Leash 66 attaches to the one of the annular walls between the inner and outer walls. The leash is formed of flexible material and may be woven. Alternatively, leash 66 could be a bendable plastic web that attaches to a more conventional leash. The spaced walls form an annular cavity into which the leach is retracted. The cavity must be large enough to store almost all the leash. The free end 112 of the leash extends through opening 114 in the handle housing. U-shaped flange 116 surrounds the opening (FIG. 9). The U-shaped flange and slot 60 between supports 56 and 58 guide the leash and handle housing to their proper positions when the housing is being attached to the carrier.

Spring 110 (FIG. 4) is pretensioned to supply a sufficient torque to wind the leash into the retraction mechanism. When the leash is pulled out of the retraction mechanism, spool 112 rotates in the direction that causes the spring to become tighter to increase the force retracting the leash. (The direction depends on the winding of the spring.) Spring parameters can provide different desired leash tensions. Different embodiments can have different tensions to accommodate different size pets and users' preferences.

The handle housing attaches to and is removable from the carrier. In the exemplary embodiment, each support 62 and 64 has a horizontal slot 120 and 122 (FIGS. 5 and 7). The handle housing has two tabs 124 and 126 (FIG. 9) that enter the respective slot 120 or 122 when the handle housing and carrier are attached. Flange 116 also fits into slot 60 between upright supports 56 and 58.

Handle housing 100 includes an upper cylindrical housing 130 and a complementary lower cylindrical housing 132 (FIG. 9). The two cylindrical housings attach together directly or through intermediate structure. The cylindrical housings can have equal diameters or they may be different. Each can have a stepped sidewall. The diameters and structure are designed to accommodate the retraction mechanism including spool 102.

Carrier 20 has a cylindrical recess 140 (FIG. 7), which receives lower cylindrical housing 132. The cylindrical recess may be shaped to accommodate any steps on the cylindrical housing's outside surface. The inside surface of the recess and the outside surface of the cylindrical housing may have slots, flanges or other structure to limit pivoting of the cylindrical housing within the recess.

When the handle housing is attached to the carrier, tabs 124 and 126 in slots 120 and 122 secure the front end of the handle housing to the carrier. The mating of cylindrical recess 140 lower cylindrical housing 132 also helps hold the handle housing to the carrier. The carrier also has a lock and ball-detent connection with the arm of the handle housing. In the exemplary embodiment, carrier 20 mounts a small ball 150 (FIG. 7). The ball extends though an opening in recessed wall 152. A spring (not shown) behind recessed wall 152 biases ball 150 outward. The other side of the carrier has a similarly mounted ball in a similar recess 154. Handle arms 76 and 78 each have a detent 156 and 158 (FIGS. 3 and 8) that receives the spring-biased balls when the handle housing is in the carrier. The handle arms also fit into recesses 152 and 154 in the carrier.

A slide lock also secures at least one handle arm to the carrier. Slide lock 160 (FIG. 7) is cylindrical in the exemplary embodiment, but it can be another shape. The slide lock slides within a recess inside the carrier and slides into and out of opening 162 in recessed wall 152. In its extended position, the pin engages hole 164 on handle arm 74 (FIG. 3). In the retracted position, the slide lock disengages the handle arm. Pin 166 is fixed to the slide lock. The pin extends through slot 168, and the user can move the pin to slide the slide lock between is engaged and disengaged positions.

The exemplary embodiment uses only one slide lock, but each handle arm could have its own slide lock. Thus, the carrier has another slot 170 (FIGS. 5 and 7) although it is not used in the exemplary embodiment.

When the handle housing and carrier attach to each other, the user locks slide lock 160 into opening 162. A spring urges ball 150 into detent 158, and another ball engages detent 156. Now the user can release the handle housing and the dog carries both components. The retraction mechanism had pulled loose leash into the handle housing so the leash does not drag.

If the user wants to hold the leash and handle, he or she releases the slide lock 160 and pulls up on handle 80. This pivots handle arms 72 and 74 in their respective recesses 152 and 154. Sufficient force retracts the balls 150 from their detents 156 and 158. The pivoting removes lower cylindrical housing 132 from the cylindrical recess 140, and the user slides tabs 124 and 126 from slots 120 and 122.

The free end of leash 64 can attach to the carrier, to one of the straps 44 or 46 or to a separate collar on the dog. With the user holding handle 80 or another part of the handle housing, the dog and user can move away from each other, which causes the leash to advance out of the retraction mechanism and the handle housing against the retraction forces from coil spring 110.

The user may not want to have the retraction mechanism supplying retraction force or may want to limit the distance between him or her and the dog. Therefore, applicant can lock out the retraction mechanism. Spool 102 has peripheral teeth 104 (FIG. 4). Slider 182 extends through a U-shaped extension from upper cylindrical housing 130 into the housing. An optional spring (not shown) may bias the slider outward. When the user pushes the slider into the housing, the inside end of the slider (not shown) engages a space between teeth 180 to prevent spool rotation. The slider may have a tapered inside end to engage the teeth better. If the slider is spring biased, it may have structure that cooperates with the handle housing to holds the slider against the teeth until the user releases the slider.

The foregoing is merely illustrative and not limiting, having been presented by way of example only. Although examples have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art that changes, modifications or alterations may be made.

Although many of the examples presented involve specific combinations of method acts or system elements, those acts and elements may be combined in other ways to accomplish the same objectives. Acts, elements and features discussed only in connection with one embodiment are not intended to be excluded from a similar role in other embodiments.

“Plurality” means two or more. A “set” of items may include one or more of such items. As used in this application, whether in the written description or the claims, the terms “comprising,” “comprised of,” “including,” “carrying,” “having,” “containing,” “involving,” and the like are to be understood to be open-ended, i.e., to mean “including but not limited to.” Only the transitional phrases “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of,” respectively, are closed or semi-closed transitional phrases with respect to claims.

Use of ordinal terms such as “first,” “second,” “third,” etc., in the claims to modify a claim element does not by itself connote any priority, precedence or order of one claim element over another or the temporal order in which acts of a method are performed. The terms are merely labels to distinguish one claim element having a certain name from another element having a same name (but for use of the ordinal term) to distinguish the claim elements.





 
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