Travel Crates (and Casper’s Agility Debut!)

In Seattle, the joke is that summer doesn’t start until July 5th, after you’ve had a miserable chilly night trying to enjoy July 4th. It was true this year as well, but now it is July 5th and that means summer is in full swing, and keeping dogs cool and safe in the car is on my mind.

We’ve been using a slightly ghetto system of wire crates, with big ice packs for cooling, and cooling mats on the crate floors. The ice packs, along with battery-powered fans, do a pretty decent job. However, the wire crates are a disaster waiting to happen in case of a crash, and I wanted to replace them – but there are so many options!

I wanted to spare no expense, but my wishlist was a little exacting. I wanted crates that were:

  • Crash-tested
  • Lockable with a key,
  • Had front and back doors or exits
  • Not rattley
  • Sufficiently ventilated
  • Either short enough to see over, or tall enough with bars to the ceiling I could see through
  • Removable

The ones I considered seriously were of two general types: self-contained traditional crates, and dog boxes/systems like Variocage and TransK9, and similar customs. The latter was ejected from consideration relatively early. While technically removable, I wanted mobile crates because 1) in case we are at an event where soft crates are not allowed/aren’t working, 2) sometimes I sleep in the car and the crates need to stay outside overnight, and 3) my car is 13 years old and building a frame specific to this car limits me to either buying a very-closely-related car in the future, or losing over a thousand dollars and scrapping it.

So, I stuck with more traditional crates. Really solid options limited me to Impact (cut early because of size, ventilation, and lack of visibility) and similar metal crates, and plastic ones – mostly Ruff Tough and Gunner kennels. Gunners had fit, door and visibility problems, so I went to Cabela’s to look at RTKs. I was initially going back and forth between Intermediate and Medium sizes, but when I saw the Mediums in store I knew they would be perfect and the Intermediates would be far too cavernous. I found an RTK distributor with a free shipping offer and ordered 2 bright orange, double-door, extra-ventilation, side-latch-added medium RTKs.

They took a month to reach me, and arrived two days apart for some reason. But they’re perfect! I added my padlocks, temperature sensor (the monitor screen is up by the dashboard), water bowls, emergency information, ID tags, and collar lights, and bungeed my reflective silver pad over the contraption.

rtk

So far so good!

 

In other news, mister Casper had his debut in agility this weekend. We attended the UKC Washington Classic, a great event in Auburn with conformation, agility, rally, obedience, and barn hunt. I did not expect a qualifying run from Casper at all, as it was his first time trying it, but despite a few weird jump refusals, he did surprisingly well! He got a qualifying score and took home a second place – and it wasn’t even second out of two either, imagine that! We have lots to work on and I’ve entered an AKC trial at the end of the month at the same location to see if we can work out some of these kinks prior to changing venue.

agility

Casper with his ribbon from his very first agility trial