Retractable dog run

Our dog, Jolene, goes everywhere we go. She’s a rescue and still a bit skittish, so we don’t like to leave her and we don’t know exactly what will spook her (although the list now includes butterflies, gravel, and chipmunks). More than once, she has bolted out of the van before we could grab hold of her leash. So I decided I need to devise a way to keep Jolene contained or tethered—at least safe—whenever we open the van door. 

As folks with Late Bay Buses know, there is a long, narrow storage compartment under the passenger seat. You can store umbrellas and tools, ice scrapers and things you never want to see again in there. The problem being that the space is long and narrow and inaccessible. If you can’t easily grab one end of whatever it is you’re storing, it belongs to the ages. I decided this space made the perfect spot to install a retractable spool of metal cable for Jolene. The process was pretty easy. 

First I bought a retractable dog run. I chose the Howard Retractable system because it was a). affordable, b). well-reviewed, and c). available at Ace Hardware where I had a $5 off coupon. 

I then took the run apart. This is simply taking the spool off the post, which is easily accomplished using a Kentucky socket set. 

The most complicated part was building a wooden cradle that held the retractable spool. When you build the cradle, you’ll want to cut off any excess wood because, as I have said twice now, the space where this thing goes is long and narrow (not to mention it has weird contours that you’ll have to finagle). 

Finally, I drilled a half-inch hole through the metal at the base of the passenger seat. Half inch is the right size to get the rubber stopper on the dog run through and then insert a rubber O-ring to keep it from getting all jimmied up. (I used a grooved O-ring so the plastic coating on the metal cable wouldn’t scrape off. 

I bought a cheap carabiner to attach to Jolene’s harness. So far the system has worked like a charm. 

Bonus: You can take the ground stake from the original system and store it in that long, narrow space and then reassemble it whenever needed. 

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