Monday, March 7, 2011


Is there such a thing as the perfect vehicle for dog people?

Wait, let me amend that. Is there such a thing as the perfect vehicle for dog people who don't want to spend the big bucks having a Canine Traveler custom built? I suppose it all depends on how many dogs you have and how big they are.

My first dog vehicle as an adult was a Mustang hatchback. It was an awesome little car for one gal and one sheltie. I could fold the back seats down and put Jess's crate in. A set of 4-foot J&J Practijumps just fit. That Mustang got excellent mileage before I ever cared about mileage.

When the Farmer and I got married, we traded my Mustang for a GMC Jimmy. That was about the time I got Connor. The Jimmy was a great car for two shelties. Back then, I faintly remember actually having back seats that people could sit in.

Our next vehicle was a Chevy Blazer. It was my all-time absolute most favoritest vehicle ever. It was a powerhouse and would go through anything - snow, mud, sand, standing water, you name it. It was the car I had when the straight-line windstorm of 1998 hit the town where I worked and I had to drive on sidewalks and partially through people's lawns (sorry about that, really, I am) to get out of town that day because there were so many power poles, power lines, tree limbs and debris blocking the streets.

I would have driven it forever if it hadn't been for the arrival of Jamie. Yes, you CAN get crates for two shelties and a terv in a Blazer . . . but you can't get anything else in one. I began campaigning for a mini van.

The Farmer would rather have died than been seen driving a mini van so this was a slow and painful process. He was very good at avoiding the whole subject and found many different things that needed to be done immediately - usually at a distance from me - whenever I brought it up.

Finally, when we were headed to the 2001 National Obedience Invitational in St. Louis with Connor, I said to him, "We're going to be in the same car for the next 5 hours. We're going to talk about getting a mini van." Later that summer, we got a Chevy Venture, which was my second most favoritest vehicle ever. The back seats came out and didn't go back in until it was time to trade. It was the first of several seven- or eight-passenger vehicles that had room for two people.

Another Venture followed a number of years later. By then, the Farmer was resigned to being seen in a van. But he still had his Chevy Silverado pickup for a testosterone boost so I don't think he was suffering too much.

I loved my vans. They had tons of room and I used every inch of it. Forget packing light - I took everything I might ever need for trial weekends and more. The dogs and I camped in the vans, friends traveled with us and life was good. I lost Jess and gained Phoenix. Still had more room than I knew what to do with. I knew every possible crate configuration to accommodate crates, jumps, luggage, ring gates, coolers and camping gear.

Then the mini van era began to wane. Both GM and Ford discontinued their van lines. Cross-over utility vehicles began to grow in popularity. We got our GMC Acadia. I think the Farmer breathed a sigh of relief that he no longer went places with the wife in her mini van. The Acadia at least looked a little tougher, even though it wasn't.

Within 24 hours, when we pick up the Equinox, I'll be driving an SUV again. Can't wait!


  1. YOu're right, the perfect dog vehicle definiely depends on your needs. When I was *only* a dog person it needed to fit my crates and trial/show gear. Now that I'm a fairly active triathlete as well, there's a bike plus swim/bike/run gear to haul and that's what has changed my tune when looking at vehicles. I fell asleep last night dreaming of options where my bike could just slide inside, without disassembly, and there was still room for dog crates. Hence my current lust for minivans.

  2. *I* was the girl in high school and college that said I would NEVER, ever, ever be caught dead driving a mini-van. Even if at some point I had a child to tote around. Our son was born in March 2006 and we got a mini-van in June. I LOOOOOOOOOVE it so much. My husband still teases me because of how anti mini-van I was.

    My mini-van easily fits a Dane sized crate, a Field Spaniel sized crate, two soft crates folded down (one for each dog), all my gear and I can still fit 3 people. I'm not sure what I will do if we ever have 2 Danes at once.

    Mini-vans rule!!!

  3. I hate to admit it, but I have am actually in favor of getting a mini van of some sort for our next vehicle because of the dogs. While I love my truck and the amount of space that I have, it's a lot more ideal for me to have a low clearance vehicle (especially once the dogs get older) that allows me to regulate the temperature of the "dog area."

  4. I miss my Blazer!! I loved it too!!! Hopefully the new ride is VERY SIMILAR!!

  5. I have been in dog-vehicle choosing hell for the past... well, it seems like forEVAH! I've had 3 Chrysler mini vans over the years since 1989, and I LOVE my current one. But since I took up field training with my Flat-Coats, I tote even more stuff around, and I got stuck twice in the mud last year. Plus, the low clearance can be an issue, and they really aren't meant for off-roading :-). I'm looking at the hybrid Chevy Tahoe - it does answer most of my desires in a vehicle. Except of course that bugaboo... reliability.

  6. I kicked around the idea of a minivan but cost and gas prices steered me toward a Honda Fit and I love it. There are definitely times when I wish I had more room, but most times I'm only hauling two dogs with junk, so it works just fine. And I can't argue with the 32+ mpg that I generally get (even better with all highway driving, of course).