Archive for the ‘Crate Arrangements’ Category

Our first guest review (and great pictures!) comes from Leah Petesch in Iowa. Leah has several dobes, a corgi, and a Mexican street dog, volunteers with Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus, and runs the A Prairie Dobe Companion blog (http://www.prairiedobecompanion.com/)!

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I’ve had my HHR for roughly three years, putting over 60,000 miles on it for dog-related activities.  It’s ideal for 1-2 people with 1-2 large dogs.

The HHR is an excellent option if you’re looking for an economical, domestic vehicle. I recommend the 2LT, as the more basic models are a bit underpowered. A 1-2 year old, low-mileage 2LT usually can be found for $11,000-$14,000. It gets an average of 28-32mpg, but I’ve seen it sit at 34-36mpg on long stretches of highway. (mpg seen with super unleaded, since we lucky Iowans get ethanol fuel subsidies!) It’s a small SUV that handles like a car. My only complaint is that the blind spots are in weird places, and take some getting used-to!

I usually keep the backseat folded down, to accommodate a 36″ wire crate and an equivalent-sized plastic crate. The rear seats fold FLAT – which automatically makes it more functional than its larger ‘brother’ – the Chevrolet Equinox. (I drove an Equinox for a week after I hit a deer with the HHR… let me tell you, it was awful.  I was only able to fit one crate in the darn thing due to the rear seats not folding flat.)

The HHR’s hatch opening is too small for an assembled 36″ wire crate to be slid in, so the crate has to be folded out after it is placed in the cargo area. A soft crate can easily be slid in and popped up after you’ve got the wire crate in – I can set up a soft crate in the empty space in a matter of seconds.  A plastic crate is more difficult, but it can be done – just slide the bottom section in first, then slide the top section through the front passenger door, up over the front-seat headrests, and onto the bottom crate section. Trust me… DO NOT put in a plastic crate as your 2nd crate unless you don’t plan on removing it very often!

The HHR has several convenient cargo tie-downs built into the frame, so securing crates is quick and easy.  The interior surfaces are plastic, so clean-up is a breeze.

I have done several long trips with 2 adults and 2 large dogs. My advice for packing is to pack several small bags – they are easier to stuff into the nooks and crannies of available space.  (Yes, it’ll look like a clown car – get used to it.)  Above the crates there is enough room to slide an additional 42″ broken-down soft crate. In the back, there is a 12″D x 39″W x 29″H open pocket of space. On the side (behind the crate in front) there is a 11″D x 29″W x 29″H open pocket of space. Of course, there are also roomy rear footwells to shove extra gear, as well as the deep rear window-wells in back.

All in all, the Chevrolet HHR is a great “starter” dog-hauler.

View from the rear hatch, with a 36″ wire crate w/side door and a 36″ soft crate

Convenient tie-downs

View of the “empty pocket of space” near the hatch, and the deep window-wells

View from a back door, of the 36″ soft crate

View from a back door, of a 400 vari-kennel (equivalent)

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This is the current Four Paw Drive vehicle! I’ve had our “Rover” for over 10 years and it’s served me well, but our canine family has simply outgrown its capacity.

The Impreza is a very versatile car, providing room for 5 humans and a few dogs in the cargo area or room for two humans and two medium-sized dogs crated with the back seat folded flat!  The Impreza, like all Subarus, comes with AWD standard and it’s helped me out of many a muddy field or through snow drifts that larger vehicles balked at.  In general my mpg has hovered between 28-30mpg consistently, using regular 87 octane gasoline.

I now regularly keep the rear seat folded with the base removed to allow me to fit two 36″ wire crates fully assembled behind the front seats. The rear hatch does not accommodate them fully assembled outside the vehicle, so I put the crates in flat and pop them up inside – it’s a very snug fit and the rear crate needs to have a side door, but it works, and both crates can be accessed easily while still allowing for a significant amount of additional storage.


Pictures of other crate arrangements are below.

Two crates, 36″ wire on folded back seat, 32″ mesh in the remaining cargo space.


Two crates, 36″ plastic on folded back seat, 32″ mesh perpendicular in the cargo area to allow for more storage access.

Two crates, 36″ wire on the back seat, 30″ wire in the cargo area.