Brush with success: North Yarmouth couple launches animal comb

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NORTH YARMOUTH — When life throws you a snag, attack it with a better brush.

It was that kind of conundrum that led Lisa and Sheldon Perkins of Sligo Road to invent the “CoatHook,” a pet comb geared toward combing fur and removing shedding undercoats.

Having spent 2011-2014 developing the product, with a boost from a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, the couple has so far sold at least 1,000 CoatHooks to people in 26 countries. Manufactured in Kennebunk, the combs are sold with free shipping through thecoathook.com, which went online last September. A wholesale network is in the works this year.

In their social media outreach, the Perkinses are “targeting pet owners, and mostly rescues and shelters,” Lisa Perkins said in an interview March 2.

On that note, the couple has created a fundraising program through which shelters or rescue organizations participating in that program receive $5 from every CoatHook sale. A campaign benefiting the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg raised about $200 last December. Log onto thecoathook.com for more information or to purchase the comb.

With promotions for four shelters and rescues to be launched this week, “we’re hoping that we’ll very quickly start to donate a lot more,” Perkins said.

Perkins, who enjoys inventing products and is now delving into a special car floor mat, catalogued with her husband their numerous ideas a few years ago. Rating each idea, the CoatHook got top marks.

“It did have the highest score, but it’s also very near and dear to our hearts,” Perkins explained.

It was their aging cat, Cosmo, that inspired the CoatHook.

“He just wasn’t grooming the way that he used to,” Perkins said of the short-haired feline. “And his coat, that had always been very sleek … had begun to get kind of clumpy. He just wasn’t doing grooming anymore.”

Perkins, making bracelets one day as Cosmo laid in her lap, decided to try running a crochet hook through the cat’s fur.

“And it pulled out a little clump of fur,” she recalled. “So that’s how I groomed him. And I thought it would be a lot easier if I could embed a bunch of those crochet hooks into some sort of a handle.”

Sheldon Perkins fabricated a few prototypes, and the CoatHook was on its way to becoming what is now a federally-patented reality. It retails for $19.95.

The comb’s long tines reach through the pet’s outer “guard coat,” and have “MicroHooks” that “grab and gently remove shedding downy undercoat fur without cutting the guard coat,” according to an informational card included with each comb.

“We have not seen any other pet combs that look like this, and that have that feature,” Lisa Perkins said of the hooks.

Those hooks “gently tease out tangled or matted fur” on dogs, cats and rabbits alike, the card adds, also offering instructions on how best to use the device to detangle the fur and groom a pet.

“We wanted this to be really gentle, and just by the nature of the design, everything about it is rounded and gentle,” Perkins said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Sheldon and Lisa Perkins of North Yarmouth are the inventors of the newly patented CoatHook, which they often use on their own dog, Dixie.

Lisa Perkins of North Yarmouth demonstrates how the CoatHook can be used to remove shedding undercoat fur.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.