In addition to running The Inquisitive Canine dog training business, Joan Hunter Mayer is also the owner of TransPaw Gear, the company that makes the Happy Harness, the best pet harness for compassionate pet parents. Joan saw the creation of an innovative dog walking harness, to promote the welfare and safety of dogs, as the next step in a broader cultural shift toward a mutually respectful space between dogs and humans. From the Inquisitive Canine to TransPaw Gear, Joan is committed to supporting an easy, enjoyable dog walking experience that enhances the human-canine bond.
For almost a decade Joan had known she would someday start a harness company. As a certified professional canine behavior consultant and dog trainer, she saw clients who struggled to find a comfortable harness that would minimize their dogs’ pulling without causing discomfort. Some dogs were hard to fit. Some clients struggled to understand how to put the dog harness on, or their fingers couldn’t operate the clips. Even more concerning, some dogs had a talent for wiggling out of their harnesses. At the same time, going to events with her own dog, Poncho, Joan would joke that he had more costume changes than Cher! A dog harness for walking and running. One for sports. Another for those days when his exuberance was so great that she just wanted something that would prevent him from pulling her off her feet. Meanwhile, Joan wanted more for dogs and the humans who love them. Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one harness that met all the diverse needs of pet parents on the go?
When the time came to make that kernel of an idea a reality, Joan started looking at what it would take to develop a dog harness that actually had everything:
TransPaw Gear officially launched in November 2017. To get to that point though, Joan needed resources and a plan. She would still need help in both design and production of a new harness, despite her fashion background.
The initial business planning, research and development, testing processes and patent filing started back in 2014. After investigating resources both locally and nationally, Joan found a group of experts who shared her vision. She traveled to Ohio to work with a team of soft goods engineers to craft her new product. Dog guardians themselves, the engineers she met at Priority Designs were excited to help! Spending a week together, Joan and the team came up with about 20 different designs, which were then whittled down to two main designs before the final concept.
After returning home to Santa Barbara, Joan connected with different soft goods manufacturers to produce prototypes. After a few rounds of prototype testing with a couple of U.S. manufacturers, the final version of the original TransPaw Gear Happy Harness was conceived! The first manufacturer, based in Rancho Cucamonga, was kind enough to offer a small run (which is virtually unheard of in the soft goods industry, especially with something as detailed as the Happy Harness).
Although the product was beautifully crafted, the original manufacturer did not have the resources to produce higher quantities or meet a price point that most consumers could afford. So Joan searched for a company that would achieve the same high standards, understand the TransPaw vision, and meet the needs of customers. Fortunately, she crossed paths with Mike Hexter, owner of HEXCORP, a California-based soft goods manufacturer. At that point, the Happy Harness underwent another round of prototype testing before a new batch was produced.
After many companies and prototypes, the Happy Harness is now being made overseas through HEXCORP and is still the same outstanding quality as when it was produced directly here in the United States.
Today, Joan continues to surround herself (albeit largely virtually these days) with dedicated support professionals – a writer/editor, marketing, SEO, and website specialists, and legal and accounting support – to help keep TransPaw Gear running smoothly while maintaining the company’s core values of integrity, transparency, and compassion, to name a few. The TransPaw Gear team’s goal is for people to love their Happy Harnesses almost as much as they love their dogs!
Joan threw her heart and soul into the creation of TransPaw Gear and strives to continue to operate the company with the same vision and purpose every day. She does this while always keeping one eye on the mission of providing high quality, innovative products for dogs and the people who love them. And she is grateful for the ongoing inspiration from all of you and your inquisitive canines who are unleashing adventures and harnessing fun together!
To purchase and to find out more, view the TransPaw Gear website.