Life can be filled with many conflicts of interest, some more severe than others, but all inconvenient nonetheless. Oftentimes, you have to draw a line and pick one of the two entities at the expense of the other, but every once in a while you find a way to make both things work.
The Mrs. and I have a Border Collie who is one of the best dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with, but for all his accolades he is absolutely lazy to no end. Every time I see a person on a bike with their dog proudly trotting alongside them, I feel just a bit envious. My dog will run for a minute or two before deciding a good lie in the grass is needed and will lock his legs in protest of any further activity.
So for the longest time, I was faced with splitting my time between riding my bike and doing something with my dog. Then one day, I saw someone ride by on their bike with their kid in tow, snugly tucked into a trailer that rolled along behind them. Interesting, I thought. I bet you could put a dog in there. An internet search showed that not only do people put dogs in child trailers, but they actually make dog trailers. So I wasn’t the only one with a lazy dog-- there is an entire industry devoted to them.
After browsing the selection Amazon had to offer, the Mrs and I decided to go ahead and order one, sized medium for our medium-sized dog. When it arrived, I hastily assembled it to take it for a test ride when, to my dissatisfaction, it turned out to be too cramped for our dog to fit comfortably. This did not stop me from coaxing him into it regardless, but I could tell he was not enjoying the confinement of his nylon dog RV.
So just recently, I had an idea to take the existing trailer base and mount it to his airline kennel, which I know is spacious enough for him to fit in and lay down if he wants.
At first, I had the kennel separated into halves to make the installation easier, but then I realized that the top half really wasn’t necessary if he had a tether to keep him from exiting the trailer while in motion. Besides, he gets more air in his face, which is a thing that dogs universally love. Also, if for some reason we were expecting inclement weather, the top portion could be installed fairly quick with a few wingnut-style fasteners, no big deal.
Now, while I’m very pro-DIY, I’m not very good at DIY, so most oftentimes I employ the technique some people call “winging it”. Thankfully, this project was pretty straightforward so I couldn’t mess up too bad. I stripped the old trailer down to the frame and chassis and set in on top of the inverted kennel, then centered it as best as I could by alternating one eye closed then the other. Satisfied that it was mostly aligned, I marked the points on the kennel where a nut and bolt would connect the two, and removed the frame to do some drilling.
I drilled four holes that were slightly smaller than the bolts I had to run through them, and then kinda widened them a little but more. Then I installed the washers and nuts to secure them, and with everything tightened and secure, applied poor man’s loc-tite to the threads (acrylic nail polish, pick your favorite color).
The trailer body finished, I installed an old Shimano brake lever clamp on the side to attach his dog harness to, and put a foam pad on the floor for a luxuriously cushioned ride. The trailer itself mounts to a proprietary attach point on your rear quick-release skewer, with some rubbery spring-coil contraption to allow you to turn the bike without tipping the trailer over (not 100% effective, but I’m learning to mitigate that result).
The test run did fairly well, with a lot of treats given for good behavior and one sincere apology for taking too tight a turn and dumping everything and everyone off of the bike. The next step will be taking the fur ball on an overnight camping trip, where I can utilize his new trailer for some additional cargo storage, and he can ride like the youngest child in the back of a over-packed station wagon.
- Bicyclist Abroad