Monday, March 28, 2011

Firstrax Port-A-Crates: Definitely Not Aussie Proof!

    Jinx has been with us since Thursday and as he (and our dogs) is used to being crated at night and when the humans are missing his mom Tracey sent him along with a very sturdy looking soft-sided crate that she often uses at Agility and Flyball competitions.  Tracey won this crate new a couple years ago in a Flyball raffle and since then it has always been one of her favorite travel kennels.  Well, this weekend sort of brought an end to that love affair.

  The kennel was manufactured at the end line of a company called Backyardpets, which has since started operating under the Firstrax label (it took a lot of trademark research to figure that out).  Until recently they offered this exact kennel as their Firstrax Port-A-Crate E-28.  They've only just stopped manufacture on this specific item, but continue to have similar products on the market like the NoztoNoz line.  Therefore, this negative experience should be taken with that in mind.  The crate was a few years old and the new crates on the market from this company are somewhat different, though not much.  However, I'm sure many people still own this crate and should be aware of should I put it....limitations!

   We'd planned to take the dogs hiking on Saturday, but it was so cold that we decided to leave them at home while we ran errands, putting them safely away in their respective crates.  About three hours later, Chris and I came home and opened the door to find Jinx eagerly awaiting our entrance.  That's funny...I don't remember leaving a dog running did he open his crate zipper without thumbs?  The answer: he didn't.  He just clawed his way out!  The super heavy-duty rubberized mesh was no match for a determined Aussie!  Luckily, there was no damage to report (other than to the crate itself), though I'm worried for Jinx's safety when his mom shows up to find her favorite crate in tatters! Just kidding.

   He must be a contortionist to have fit his butt through that hole...but I guess like mice, if it's a big enough hole to fit the head through the body will always follow!  Maybe Jinx's dad Steve was right when he resignedly explained why this happened: "Jinx is a freak."  A circus freak more like!  My curiosity implores me to try to get him to do it again so I can watch, but Tracey wants to try and repair the damage, so no fun can be had.   

  The company must be aware that this and others of their crates are not without fault, for they sell replacement covers at a little more than half ($65) the original price ($106) on Amazon!  That's great if your dog is at home as Jinx was when tragedy strikes, but if Jinx had been in the crate outside at a trial (as he often has been) when this happened he would have been long gone.  He could have ruined someone's run, been badly hurt or lost or at the very least ruined Tracey's day!  This crate appeared to be very sturdy, but this experience is perhaps best a reminder that soft-sided crates need to be used with care and supervision: No matter how durable the company claims they are!


  1. What happened with Jinx is my biggest fear with soft sided crates. We've never used one, but they just don't seem sturdy enough to me. If we were somewhere and I was going to be sitting right by my dog and know what she was doing, it would be fine, but I would not want to think about leaving a dog unsupervised in one! Yikes! I'm glad Jinx was okay! (At least until his mom gets home!)

  2. My 8mo old puppy has a soft-sided crate. It's HUGE and sits in the corner of our living room at all times. She's to stay in there when we humans eat our dinner and if we leave. She's had the crate since the end of January and it's still intact. I made sure she was trained enough to stay in there for long periods of time before actually leaving the house and I definitely think that's the key to using a soft-sided crate: proofing behavior such as clawing/chewing at the crate. They're not meant to be used as airline-safe crates or wire crates, nor are they meant to be as durable or safe; they're meant to be used as one more comfortable for the dog (and more portable) than the aforementioned. Elli also ALWAYS gets a puzzle treat or something to keep her busy while inside the crate, which I believe only bolsters her previous training.

  3. Well, I would keep your eyes pealed for trouble Ximena, just in case...Jinx is almost five years old now and he has been crate trained since he was a puppyl...This was the crate he often stayed in for agility trials, so it wasn't like it was new for him. He'd been in it for a few days at our house when this happened and he hadn't had a problem till then. I think sometimes they just get it into their heads to do something and they do it...I'm not sure any mesh material could have stood up to this, but this one certainly didn't! I think small dog don't pose such a danger, but medium/large dogs should always be kept an eye on with these things..that's just my opinion. You know your dog better than anyone! I say trust your instincts on it!

  4. Houndstooth, I think his daddy was more in the dog house than he was with mom...It was dad's idea to send the soft crate instead of breaking down the hard-sided one. I'm pretty sure both he and Jinx felt bad about it!

  5. Yep! That's pretty much our experience as well. The soft crates are wonderful for travel, but only when you're able to supervise. When the pack leader's away the pups will play....mischeviously!