Temporary Fencing

Backyard Shenanigans

I put up some temporary fencing this morning to block the two gaps we have.  It’s really more the idea of a fence than anything, just plastic netting, but it’s temporary and it gets the idea across to the two big guys as long as I’m in the yard and supervising them.  I don’t trust it with them out of my sight even long enough for me to go to the bathroom, but it got the dogs out into the yard.

Clover, sweet girl, still has to be on a long line.  The idea of a fence is not enough for her.

Loki had a grand old time racing around the yard.

Jackson did his favorite thing to do in the backyard, which is not standing on the ground.  I tried to get some clean up done, but Loki found the movement of the rake to be irresistible, so mostly I just watched him scamper around while the big dogs stood around and looked bored.

We’ve still got to figure out a more permanent fencing solution, but this will do for a few weeks while we get our poop in a group.

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Dodge Grand Caravan minivan

The Dog Bus, Part Three: Jumping In Feet First

I had the best intentions of showing you how the packing of the dog bus turned out for this weekend, but I am the worst photographer.  However, I can happily report that the Dog Bus will fit:

It’s very nearly perfect.  The only change to make is Nate pointed out that if we buy one last SUV crate for Clover, we could fold her current crate down into the space made by getting the narrower SUV crate, and not have to move it from van to show site every day.

Still on the to-buy list are soft-sided crates for any hotel rooms, and one of these 10×10 easy-up shelters for outdoor shows to provide some extra shade.

It’s all coming together!

This one (terrible) photo at least shows you how Clover’s crate just fits behind the SUV crates and gives us *just* enough room behind the front seats for the folded wire crates and grooming table.

Dog Bus

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Show Set Up

Springfield Day 2

Today was Reserve Day.

Loki went Reserve in his class, beaten by liver-nose brother Raylan.  Clover went Reserve Best of Breed, beaten by her sister Poppy.

We decided that was just fine with us, because we could go home early!  There’s always a silver lining.

Loki is happily working on a Nylabone, Jackson fell asleep on a bed almost as soon as we walked in the door, and Clover has taken over the couch.

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Show Set Up

Springfield Day 1 Results

First, the dog bus did fantastically!

Secondly, Loki won his class (Puppy 6-9 Mo Dog), but did not go Winners Dog, so no points for him.  Still, very pleased with my little big man!

Thirdly, Clover went Winners/Best of Breed, so she’s one point closer to earning her championship.  Three to go!

Highlights for the day:

  • Caryl-Rose came to see me!  Yay!!
  • I got to meet Cheryl Cote’s Zella, who was entered for her first show.  What a sweet liver nose girl!
  • Coming home and putting on my jeans.

The one dark spot in an otherwise bright day is Nate dropped a crate on his foot this morning.  Ouch!

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A black and white dog is trotting next to a woman

Prepping for the Springfield Show

Wow, here’s a post I haven’t had to write in a while.  Tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday are three shows in Springfield, MA, where both Clover and Loki are entered.  It’s the first long-distance test of the dog bus.  We’ve had one long drive up to a friend’s house in NH, but that was without having to fit in extra crates, a cooler, chairs, and so on.

Loki will be one of ~20 Ridgebacks entered on all three days, including his brothers Danté and Raylan.  Clover will be competing against her sister Poppy.  However, I have had what I choose to believe is a good omen:  my lost brown nylon puppy lead has been found!  And since it happened the day before the show, clearly that means that good things are coming this weekend, right?  Right!

I’m going to leave you with a photo of the lovely flowers that bloomed in our front yard today.  Spring is finally arriving!

Striped purple and white flowers


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Dodge Grand Caravan minivan

The Dog Bus, Part Two: Turning a Minivan into a Bus

Once I narrowed down the potential dog buses to a minivan, I had really three choices:  A Dodge Grand Caravan, a Toyota Sienna, or a Honda Odyssey.  And really it’s just two choices, because the Odyssey doesn’t have the Grand Caravan’s Stow ‘N Go seating or the Sienna’s all wheel drive.  And then it became obvious that if I could manage without all wheel drive, then really I’m looking at a Grand Caravan, because they start at $5K cheaper than the Sienna.

I can live without all wheel drive.

We did a test-drive and took two 42″ crates with us, just to be able to get an idea for how they would fit and whether there’d be room for the third crate and luggage.  Yep, everything fit.  Then it was just down to finding our specific vehicle (I really wanted to get a backup camera if I could, and I wanted an aux jack for the radio at a minimum, but Bluetooth if I could manage it), and then the conversion from people hauler to dog hauler could start.  Also, important detail noted on the test drive:  with the crate in, I had good visibility out the rear window over the top of the crate.  This is important because while we are using wire crates now, at some mythical point in the future when we have more money than things to spend it on, I’d like to convert the dogs to a solid-sided custom built car crate, which is safer.

Dodge Grand Caravan minivan

The first thing I did was go to a home improvement store and buy a cheap indoor/outdoor carpet.  No, not for the show site, for the back of the van.  $20 for a 6×8 carpet that will be trimmed for a custom fit is a lot cheaper than the $60-$100 for a custom fit cargo liner.  There’s nothing really hard about this, it’s just a matter of putting the carpet in place and then trimming it down with a pair of scissors.  Or box cutters, if you can find them in your tool chest.  We have two pairs, but I somehow managed to avoid locating them until after I had gone after the carpet with a pair of scissors. The cargo liner helps keep the dog hair manageable and will provide an extra layer in case of a pet accident.  Much easier to pull a carpet out and vacuum it in the driveway than to futz around with trying to vacuum out the van itself.

The empty back of a minivan

I thought I would add flaps to make it easy to put up one or more seats.  After I trimmed in my first flap, I realized this was more complicated than I thought, due to the way the seats fold and utilize the LATCH points, but some creative folding and cutting got me to where I wanted to go.


I had to add slits to expose the LATCH cargo tie down points so the seats could catch correctly.  Exposing these tie down points also  will allow me to bungie-cord the crates into place in the short term, and give me a access to the tie-down points in the long term for a future improvement project.  (Woo, secret improvements!)  Okay, not so secret:  I’m going to build a crate platform so I have some under-platform storage.  Boring.


Step two of converting to a dog bus was to look at the crates themselves.  A single 42″ crate takes up a lot of room.  Like, a huge amount.  You can see in the next two photos that a normal 42″ crate is nearly as wide as the cargo deck between the sliding doors, and it’s as tall as the front row seat backs.



However, one crate manufacturer makes what they call side-by-side SUV crates.  These crates are narrower than normal dog crates, at only 21″ wide.  A normal 42″ crate is 27″ wide.  What this means is I can fit two of these SUV crates in the back of the dog bus, where only one normal wire crate would fit.  I wouldn’t want to house the big dogs in these crates long term, but for auto transportation, they’ll do just fine.  And if you have just two dogs and no need to haul a bunch of other crap too, then they might even do you just fine in, you know, an actual SUV.  So the big boys were taken care of, leaving just Clover.  

This next photo shows the boys in the side-by-side crates, but Clover is in the 42″ crate shown above.


With the two SUV crates and a 42″ crate, it’s a sea of wire in the back of the van.  There’s no room for anything else.  Clover will be downgraded to a 36 x 24″ crate.  Poor spoiled girl.  By moving her to a smaller crate, we free up the room we need for people gear.



A bigger problem, though, is that no one makes pads for these narrow footprint SUV crates.  Solution:  the same home improvement store that gave me the cargo liner sells these foam mats that have puzzle-piece shaped edges so they can be linked together.  They’re meant for children’s play spaces or putting under gym equipment, but they’re great for cushioning big dogs too.  They come in 24″x24″ blocks in dark gray if you don’t want to buy the wildly colored children’s version, which meant I just needed to trim them down to size with a craft knife.  On top of the foam mats, will layer in some pads I can whip up on my sewing machine using some batting and quilting cottons just for extra cushioning.  These pads can go through my washing machine, and the play mats can be wiped down with a paper towel and some cleaner if a dog has an accident.

A little bit of pipe insulation to make a bumper on the side of the crate to protect the van walls, along with reusing the scraps saved from the foam crate pads, and we’re most of the way toward trimming out the dog bus.



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Lessons From Shedd: “When can I get rid of the treats?” | Paws Abilities

Lessons From Shedd: “When can I get rid of the treats?” | Paws Abilities.

I see absolutely no reason to stop paying my dog for good behavior, much like your boss sees absolutely no reason to stop paying you for coming to work. As long as my dog is doing what he was asked to do, he deserves some sort of reward.  Sometimes it’s petting, sometimes it’s access to a valued resource like a walk or playing in the yard, and sometimes it’s food.  There’s no reason to ever STOP using food as a reward.

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life is better when your paws are muddy