Fix-it Fred: Dog Transport

Several months ago, our family endured a long, exhausting car trip home from Christmas with our families.  Hopefully you have all stopped laughing at our expense over that trip.  For anyone who is not familiar with that story or needs a refresher on how wonderful dogs in cars can be, the post can be read here.  While it took some time, we have all recovered from that day.  Never one to let a good thinking opportunity pass, I took the time I was locked in the back seat of the car to start planning a solution to the problem.  Or maybe plotting revenge.

Call it what you wish.  The plans were started and over the next couple months were refined into a more practical solution.  I knew our next car trip with the dogs would be over Easter.  So I planned.  This started by taking measurements of the area around the back seat in our car.  I knew I wanted something that would fit around the seat to minimize the impact on usable space in the car.  I did not want it to get in the way of the kids in the back seat.  I also did not want to cut into the space for the dogs behind the seat.  If I wanted that, I could have bought a rack and installed it.  What fun is that?

car no gate

Once I had all my measurements, I moved onto working out the best way to fill the spaces while still allowing rearward visibility for the driver.  I also had to consider how to install it.  There were several corners and odd shapes to work around in the vehicle.  Working within these confines I started sketching various options that I thought might work.  I kept eliminating and refining until I had one workable solution.

dog rack

Then I made a 3D computer model.  Yep, I went geek on it.  I made the model mostly because I did not want to calculate all the angles I would need to cut.  I wanted to make the actual building process quick and painless, which it was for the most part.  Except for when I hit a knot in the wood and drove a nail into my thumb with the nail gun.  That was not painless.

As you can see, my final plan was a three-piece assembly.  It ended up in three pieces because I wanted it to be easy to install and easy to store.  I used four machine screws to hold the pieces together.  That made it easy to assemble and disassemble quickly and easily with only a screwdriver.

gate 3 pieces

Since the structure was intended to be mostly a visual deterrent for the dogs, I used the nail gun to assemble it.  I knew it would not be terribly strong, but I hoped it would be enough to keep them in the back of the car and out of our hair (or laps).  After building the three components, I did a test fit to make sure everything fit as planned.  It was mostly successful.  A few small tweaks later and it was ready for paint.  I used some leftover black paint to match the vehicle interior.

After it was dry, I drilled the holes for the machine screws and brought it to the garage for a final test fit and photo shoot.  Everything seemed to be going as planned, and I still had two more days until we left on the maiden voyage.  It seemed like everything was going as planned.  I was ready to hit the road and see how it performed when tested by the determination of our animals.

car gate 1

We made it successfully 2 hours into our trip before I was met with the sad realization that I had underestimated the strong-willed nature of a 9-year-old German Shorthair.  What worked as a sightline window for the driver also worked as a window to frame her face as she decided she had seen enough of the back of the car.  Over the seat she came wearing part of my hard work like a necktie.

I spent the rest of the ride in the back seat, plotting revenge.  The dog seemed proud of her accomplishment.  That did not help the situation.  We made it the rest of the way to our parents’ houses and had an enjoyable Easter weekend.  It was far more uneventful than the car trip, even though we helped Melissa’s parents move one of the days.

When it was time to leave for home, I climbed into the backseat ready to fend off the dog.  As I endured the smiling, panting dog for 3 hours, I plotted even more revenge.  I also decided that it would be a more pleasant ride if the dog could not drool on my shoulder as she grinned at me.  I did discover one side benefit to riding in the back seat, though.  I was able to sleep in the car for a while.  And nobody yelled at me like they do when I take a nap while driving.

In the weeks since we returned home, I have reworked my dog rack.  I pulled apart the few joints the dog did not destroy while running around the car wearing my masterpiece.  I then glued and re-nailed every joint.  Once everything was dry and clean, I touched up the paint and started on the last part of the additions.  Windows.

gate plexiglas

I filled in the hole the dog used as a necklace with a piece of Plexiglas.  I also took a piece and filled in the hole on the side where the kids normally sit.  Now the dogs will have to settle for fogging up the windows instead of panting in someone’s face.  It had crossed my mind to fill them in with something else, but I still wanted to be able to see out the rear window of the vehicle, so Plexiglas seemed like a good alternative.  Plus, I had a leftover piece from a previous project.

car gate 2

We have not made any more long distance voyages with the dogs since I made my Dog Rack 2.0.  But once again, I am looking forward to seeing if it will survive the challenge.  With trepidation and anticipation.  If these updates do not keep the dogs in the back of the car, you can be sure you will read about it.  Not only will it provide additional humorous reading for you, but I will also be asking for some assistance with welding version 3.0 of the rack.

Anybody else have struggles keeping their dogs contained in the car? Other pets in the car memories you want to share? Send us an email or leave a comment!