After adopting our second street dog in Colombia, Shadow the Miniature Pinscher, room in our custom made motorcycle dog seat (the big yellow tent-like structure) was tight. Negrita had been good to tolerate her new buddy but tension got high at times and poor little Shadow was often flattened by her much bigger sister who just loves riding and moving around a lot. Our new addition brought with her some unanticipated complications...she was pregnant!!! This was going to require some serious thought and rearranging.
It wasn’t until we reached Ottawa, Canada, that Shadow gave birth to her two beautiful and rather large puppies. We were staying with Stu's brother Greg and his partner Diana. They made us and our complications very welcome and let us take the time we needed to adjust and investigate our options. Unfortunately Shadows first born, Cinnamon, died within a few hours of birth. What a blow, we felt this terrible despair for Shadow. But her much stronger sister, Maple, seemed to get a better start to life and Shadow was the best Mum Maple could ever have. Slowly despair turned to hope and we watched Maple grow bigger and stronger.
We decided that Janell’s bike would be the best place to put Shadow and Maple. But what to use? Janells motorbike was pretty well kitted out, the only spot that could be sacrificed was her pillion seat which currently had the tent and washing strapped to, between her and the top-box. Thus we developed our requirements for the new pet carrier; safe, rigid, weather proof, warm but also able to be well ventilated, able to be strapped securely to the motorbike, fit in the space available.
Our first thoughts were to visit some pet stores for inspiration thinking there may be a pet travel crate that could do the job with little modifications. It wasn’t long before we worked out this approach wasn’t going to cut it. There were definitely lots of options between soft and hard pet airline carriers but all would require some serious modifications to attach to the motorcycle and possible reduction in structural integrity, which we wanted to avoid at all costs because above all the solution needed to be safe, it was going to be carrying some very precious cargo.
Back to the old reliable Professor Google. Wandering around pet shops was fun and we got some good ideas but time was against us. Janell was starting to get worried we wouldn't find anything suitable and we really weren't in a position to be designing and fabricating a purpose-built carrier to suit our needs. When Stu hopped online it didn't take long at all to find the T-Bags Custom Travel Motorcycle Pet Carrier. The price was very reasonable, our only problem was that we were running on very depleted funds. Janell constructed an email to T-Bags Custom Travel Bags, telling them about our adventures with the dogs. At the end of the email we asked if T-bags would consider sending us a freebie on the premise that we would send photos of the carrier in famous or just very cool places on our travels. To our absolute astonishment, T-bags replied to our email the same day happy to help us out. Janell was over the moon, running around telling everyone, welling up at the generosity. T-bags asked for our address and said they would be happy to have some photos of Shadow and Maple to place on their social media sites.
It was a really exciting day when the parcel arrived. Janell unboxed it and tested it out for size on her motorcycle. The dimensions of the carrier are 12 x 16.5 x 9 inches. It fit perfectly between her and the top-box and was easy to strap on to our Touratech pannier frame. Yay!! Now we just needed to get Shadow and Maple familiar with the carrier. We moved it in to our room and relocated Shadow and Maple in to the carrier to get comfortable and make it home.
There are options for securing the Carrier to any motorcycle, one of its main advantages. There is the method we use, utilising the four straps joined to the four edges of the carrier, wrapping them around pannier frame/bars, clipping and tightening the straps. There is also an adjustable sleeve at the front/back depending, 7 to 14 inches wide, that slips over a sissy bar and is used in conjunction with 2 straps from the front/back if that better suits your setup.
Inside the carrier are 2 harness points on each side with 2 adjustable leads included so the dog is held in place with enough movement to keep comfortable (move around, sit down, stand up) and get their head out to look around. The carrier is made from a tough 1680D ballistic nylon and insulated with foam. The two outsides of the carrier have two separately zipped layers; the outer layer is made from the 16080D ballistic nylon but when you unzip that layer and fold it away, inside is a mesh layer which allows air flow through the carrier on warm rides while still containing the dog. The outer solid layer bends and folds inwards so it doesn't flap around. You can see that a lot of thought went in to the design.
On the top side of the carrier is another entry for the dog but much smaller. The preference is to load the dog through the side panel and then use the top access for sticking the head out of while riding. This part has the same two zipped layers, the outer solid material and the inner mesh. Unless its raining or cold, we ride with both these top layers unzipped and strapped away so Shadow can look out and promote air flow through the carrier.
In addition to the basic features expected of a motorcycle pet carrier, the T-Bags Pet Carrier has some surprisingly useful extras. A pouch at the front contains straps that can be clipped in place to allow the carrier to be moved around like a sports bag as well as shoulder straps that allow the carrier to be worn like a backpack. The backpack feature comes in handy a lot on walks, its much easier to carry Shadow on the back than in our arms when she gets tired. The zipped section is big enough to also store a map, dog lead and dog treats along with the additional straps.
We've been riding with the T-bags Motorcycle Pet Carrier for three months continuously around the USA and Canada. Shadow has comfortably ridden in freezing cold temperatures at altitude in Colorado and Utah in winter and cruised down the Mexican Baja peninsular in stinking hot conditions. We just zip up or unzip the different sections appropriate for the weather. And every night, the carrier is unclipped from the motorcycle and placed in our tent or hotel room so Shadow can curl up and sleep in her own personal cosy house. Its adorable!
We are very happy to recommend this product for small dogs. We've tried and tested it, probably more so than most riders would expect and its not let us down. Its a quality and durable product, you're furry friend will be safe and enjoy riding pillion with you. We'll next be confidently taking it through Africa and Europe. But its not just us who highly recommend the T-bags Motorcycle Pet Carrier, we've met other riders who also use it.
If you're interested in day tripping or travelling with your little dog, check out the T-Bags Custom Travel Bags website at http://tbags.com/pet-carrier-646.html.