It was around three or four years ago that I realized kennel owners like myself were facing a serious supply problem in the realm of heavy-duty wire dog crates. The two companies we’d purchased from when we opened our current facility in 2003, MidWest and Preview, had both discontinued the sturdy silver wire models they’d sold for decades. In the case of MidWest especially, this was a real blow, as we’d been hoping to replace all our aging medium and large crates with MidWest’s giant breed models.

Obviously, one can still find lots of crates on the market. But heavy-duty silver wire models are conspicuously absent, with no signs of coming back. The closest approximation seems to be a heavy-duty pewter-toned version, which seems to be available exclusively in impractical dimensions and with two more doors than necessary. Mostly, one finds flimsy black wire crates, which are neither adequately constructed for our application, nor particularly attractive.

I’m not sure what to blame for this phenomenon. But I can guess at a few factors, including outsourcing, and also the major trend away from crating in pet care facilities, where industrial-strength crates are truly de rigeur.

At any rate, this unexpected paradigm shift left me at a temporary loss. Then I got creative, trolling Craigslist for lightly used older models, and even discussing with one company the possibility of a custom design. Hoarding nice used crates was a sound stopgap measure, but I meanwhile got busy resigning myself to the inevitable.

Who knew that thousand-plus dollar enclosures would become industry standard? Who knew that “crate-free” would have such profound and lasting appeal? Not me, that’s for sure. But times change. So, with some reluctance, I began looking into different options within the world of indoor runs.

Right away, I was drawn to two manufacturers, Mason and T-Kennel, for their quality and design. But I drew a line at spending more on two rows of kennels than on my daughter’s college education. Plus, there is something about those stainless steel runs that just seems way too clinical to me. So I ended up settling on the Mason Company’s high-end chain-link, seen in the top photo.

Another reason I went with Mason, is the fact that they offered more flexible engineering in some respects. For example, despite the fact that it is becoming more and more popular to isolate dogs from one another within a boarding environment, that is not how I run (or want to run) my own kennel. We’ve always had a much more open floor plan and atmosphere at See Spot Run (see photo below from 2003), and I like it that way. So, while I do intend to take advantage of the opportunity to install some number of isolation panels (dividing panels that include opaque material, as shown in the above photo) in one corner of the kennel area, and also liked the idea of a much shorter (12 to 24 inch-high) opaque panel– just for a little privacy when sleeping– between the majority of the runs, I had zero interest in visually isolating most of the dogs, either from one another or from staff. With some companies and some materials, the height of the isolation panels are fixed at either 4 feet or 6 feet. The Mason chain link kennels, on the other hand, can accommodate nearly any height of isolation panel.

Anyhow, I bit the bullet yesterday and faxed over my contract and deposit. If I’m lucky, I’ll get the new runs in before Christmas, but there’s no telling at this point. I’m definitely looking forward to the change, mainly because it will save me from continually replacing broken crate pans and chewed up bedding, and also keep me off Craigslist for a while. With the new accommodations, each dog will have room for his own aluminum-frame Kurunda bed, which I expect to hold up well over time.

I’m also looking forward to being able to provide more spacious accommodations to our giant breed clients, of which we have a multitude. Hopefully they, and all the rest of our guests, will appreciate the upgrade.