Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun with crates

Perhaps the title is misleading.

Crates are not intrinsically a lot of fun, unless you're driving your partner crazy with the sheer numbers of them that you possess. That can be fun. Hey, you buy a new tractor/hay mower/manure spreader, I buy a new crate. That's how it works. You spend $80,000. I spent $90. Not a problem.

Crates are especially not a lot of fun when they are big, heavy, metal crates.

But I am compelled to keep trying new crate arrangements in my vehicles. I've done it in my Blazer, both vans, that doGforsaken Acadia and now, in R2. It's like a compulsion. How many different ways can I fit crates into this vehicle?

This summer has brought two realities into sharp focus. One, there are a limited number of ways you can arrange big dog crates in a Chevy Equinox. Second, time is catching up with Jamie.

I can deal with the first one. I'm having a little more trouble with the second. But they are connected.

Since his retirement, Jamie has been the "ride-along" dog. He just rides along everywhere Phoenix and I go. He hangs out in the vehicle since most trial sites are so crowded these days that people really frown on un-entered dogs taking up space. There are a few exceptions but not many. Jamie doesn't care. He gets to come in the building throughout the day and do a meet-and-greet and snag cookies from old friends and make some new friends and life is good.

But this summer has been so hatefully hot, leaving him outside in the van has been out of the question, even at evening agility classes. So he has stayed home.

I used to take Jamie along whenever Phoenix and I went to area parks to train. Nix and I would train, then both dogs got to run and chase a ball while I loaded up gates and jumps. But now Jamie is deaf. It's not selective hearing. He is honestly deaf. This means he cannot be trusted off-leash anywhere away from home because he has virtually no recall unless he's looking at me.

So that meant he rode along, watched me work Phoenix, watched Phoenix run and play and have fun, then it was time to go home. Jamie took a dim view of this. He has become a screamer. No matter how carefully I cover his crate or block his view, he KNOWS his brother is out there, working, getting cookies and attention, and he's having none of it. He screams, howls, yodels and barks.

Jamie has a good set of lungs. I am pretty sure glass in homes surrounding the parks has shattered. I feel awful. I feel awful for Jamie, for Phoenix and for anyone else who has to listen to it. So Jamie stays home.

So for the last 4 months, Jamie's very big crate has been taking up room in the back of R2. I thought . . . what if I took Jamie's crate out and . . .?

. . .what if I put the back seat up, put a seat cover on it . . .

. . . and set Phoenix's crate there . . .

. . . which would open up a bunch of free space in the back (which I obviously neglected to take a picture of) for a folded up crate, lawn chair, general dog training junk, etc.

This is a 26" tall, 24" wide, 36" long General Cage crate. Jamie's crate of the same size will fit neatly in the back, with Phoenix's crate still in place, and yes, the rear hatch with close without arguing.

In some ways, this arrangement gives me more room. In some ways it doesn't. I can easily pop Jamie's crate into the back for the weekend when he gets to go with. Those just aren't as often any more. Sigh.

Phoenix's crate is snugly wedged up against the front seats so even though part of it hangs over the seat, it doesn't tip. I did have to put a rolled up blanket under the right side of the seat cover where the bench meets the back of the seats to level it out.

A third option would be taking all crates out and letting the dogs ride loose on the back seat, but I'm not a big fan of that. I know lots of folks travel with their dogs loose but I'm too much of a worrier. I would need to get safety harnesses for them and that's just asking Phoenix to chew himself free. I wouldn't put it past him. He ate a seatbelt out of Claire II. While he was crated. The dog is a goat.


  1. I'm liking the new arrangement! A good reorganization is good for the soul (well, the organizational soul!). I see floor space for storage there too!

  2. Almost forgot... good thing you have that seat cover. I hear it costs around $600 to get the dog smell out! LOL

  3. LOLOLOL Tthat was just for one small sheltie 20 years ago. It would probably be well over $1,000 for two big dogs now!

    And yes, miraculously, floor space revealed itself when I put the seat up. Who knew!

  4. Ive played the crate game with my van alot. It can make you crazy.

  5. Jazz rides on a harness in the back seat with Coach's kennel in the very back. I swear I will no longer get dogs that need 42 inch kennels. I dream of days when I could use two 36 inch kennels instead of the huge ones I have. Oh well - the back seat option is great for Jazz who is pretty good, but I doubt if I would leave him in the back seat alone for very long. Coach, of course, can never be trusted with anything he might eat. I don't think his intestines can take it!!

  6. Have you seen the crash tested crates on Clean Run? whoo. Talk about expensive (imported from England I think). Folks here are all spun up about car crashes when you have dogs in the car, a couple bad accidents lately involving agility people. I don't think I can justify these crates though,

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