With the addition of a third bird dog, transportation (without a trailer, anyhow) has become a bit more difficult. If it's a short trip to the dog park for a run, I don't mind cramming Dottie and Vegas in my large crate, and LuLu the Pup in my smaller one.
But on longer trips -- especially during the hot early season -- I'd need another crate. And another crate pretty much fills up my full-sized truck bed. And that third crate is never easy to get to. And forget about lugging along all the requisite coolers, gear bags, and other crap that I can't seem to do without.
Like most guys, I need a project, and for the last few weekends I've been sweating in the garage, solving (I hope) my dilemma. I love my pickup and topper, but it's a pain in the ass to reach anything in the back without tearing out gear and climbing in (and yes, I have a nifty "windoor" on my driver's side). So I figured I'd build a dog box for multiple dogs that utilized the length instead of the width of my pickup bed.
I chose the dimensions of 60 inches long by 30 inches wide and 30 inches high, and used half-inch high-grade plywood (only the finest for my bitches). That seemed to be the largest I could make it for the comfort of the pooches, while still being able to fit it inside my bed. I reinforced the all the corners with 2x2 furring strips, and fastened it all together with wood screws. As you can see from the above photo, I caulked the bottom seam because I wanted it waterproof. In addition, all wood got a couple coats of waterproof stain.
The next step is pretty cool. I found a quart of Herculiner at Tractor Supply and applied two coats to the bottom piece of plywood as well as the furring strips. I wasn't sure how this'd turn out, but I am very pleased with the results. It's an even, durable, and very waterproof finish, and is very similar to what you'd find in a professionally-done pickup bed (I'm not saying you should use this stuff for your rig, however).
Then, it was just a matter of fastening the walls to the furring strips. I hinged the roof for easy access and cleaning.
PolyMax kennel flooring from FarmTek, and this stuff is the bee's knees. It's nice and rigid, and each piece interlocks together. It'd make great flooring for dog trailers, kennel runs, or whatever. I highly recommend it.
I finished it off with a door and seven ventilation grates that I got from Bob Welsh over at WingWorks. In addition to making some of the finest upland vests available, he sells these nice-looking and very functional kennel accessories. If you're thinking of a DIY project, I'd encourage you to take a look at them. I finished it off with an easily removable Lixit water bottle.
I'm excited to put it to use this fall. In cooler temps, it'll easily fit my three dogs (they usually bunk together anyway). During the hotter months, I'll probably put two in here and one in a separate crate, which'll still leave the bed with enough room for my gear. I've got good cross ventilation on the passenger side and rear windows, and I have a 12-volt fan that I can use to keep the air moving. Even so, I monitor the temperature of the crate at all times with a remote thermometer.
Not bad for a white-collar redneck.