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The Champion’s New Chariot

After months and months of research and lots of looking and thinking, we finally found a car to serve as the next Lilly-Mobile. It’s a 2003 Mini Cooper. It gets way better mileage, has a higher safety rating, AND is beyond cute compared to the other cars considered. We’re still finalizing our dog transport solutions. But —

We’re going from this set-up in my Toyota 4Runner. The crate is secured with hooks to cargo loops.

{photo lost}

To this set-up in the Mini Cooper:

{photo also lost}

With the back seat folded down, the crate still needs a bit of support for the edge that hangs over into the little cargo area. For now, I fold up a blanket to support that edge, but Tom is going to design me a custom solution that fills that “trunk” (or boot) space and levels it to the folded seats, so that the whole back area is uniform height, etc. Tom will include some tie-downs to that the crate is secure.

I was hoping the smaller soft-sided crate was narrow enough that I could keep one of the rear seats upright. That would have been the perfect solution if I want to take both Lilly and my niece (who is dying for a dog) somewhere (my niece is too young/small to sit in the front seat because of the airbag), but the crate is a couple inches too wide for that.

So, our three-girl adventures will have to be on foot from my niece’s house.

Lilly went for her first ride in the car on Sunday, and she hopped right up without any nerves or transition worries. Since she was always so far behind me in the 4Runner, I never really knew what she did back there as a I drove. I assume she faced backward.

With her right behind the driver’s seat in the Mini Cooper, and since the crate is mesh on all sides (except the bottom), she can see me and out the windshield (and through her own rear sunroof). So, she faced forward.

The 4Runner has crank, not power, windows, so whatever airflow solution I chose was what we had, but the Mini Cooper has power windows and a power sunroof (with sunshade, if we want air but not sun). It’s really neat.

Sunday on the way home from running errands, we had both windows down and the sunroof open. Very fun.

The Mini also has good tinting on the windows. With that and the lighter color (silver), I have high hopes that the car will be much cooler for both of us.

So far, I’m getting somewhere close to double the miles per gallon, and I’m loving it. It is exactly what I need — no more, no less. Maybe it’s all the drama and stress lately, but I feel a strong desire to be completely self-contained.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Rox - July 30, 2009

I promise more pix soon. It’s honestly hard to photograph because we all know how cute they are, but it’s really hard to show the cuteness in a photo. I don’t know if it’s the solid color (no stripes) or my photography skills, but when things settle down, I’ll try again.

I believe that crates are WAY safer, but I would totally use seatbelts as a backup (like when I need to take both dogs somewhere or Lilly and my niece somewhere), if Tom would let me, but he’s having a total conniption over the leather seats. This thing is loaded with options, and he is convinced the dogs will ruin the leather. And, because it’s probably the highest-end car, I’ll ever own, no rinky-dink seat cover will do. We’ve found some really nice ones (for the front, at least), but they are like $250 a pair plus shipping.

The solution is still in process. Stay tuned.

Elayne - July 30, 2009

Jonny is so jealous, he’s been wanting a mini for years now. I think Lola wants one too. Where are the side view pix of the car though??!!

Put Lily in a seatbelt harness instead of the crate and everybody will fit.

Betty - July 29, 2009

Congratulations on your perfect solution! I have a Ford Focus 5-door (hatchback) with a sunroof and the ‘kids’ absolutely love going in their carseats for a ride. I think you made an excellent choice!

KB - July 29, 2009

I can’t wait to see it. The two girls go cruising with the sunroof open and the stereo playing! Glad that Lilly likes it.

Holly - July 29, 2009

A while back I considered getting a new vehicle – mine is WAY to small for 3 dogs and forget about a crate. I get such good mileage with my car, it was hard to consider losing that, but would be worth it for a god amount of cargo space. I looked at many SUV types but like the Vue, Rendezvous, Element, Forester/Outback and Jeep the best. But alas, my budget does not allow for a new vehicle at this time. If I did major hauling and dog transporting it would be more urgent, but I can cope for now until money allows.
The mini-coop is super cute & so stylish. Its great Lilly made the transition smoothly.

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