Plastic crates are only the latest iteration of these age-old carriers.
Fri, 02/16/2024 - 1:28pm

Editorial: February 16, 2024

Crates and dates

So when was the last time you walked by that storeroom or garage, and stopped and looked at the wall of crates stacked to the ceiling? It should be included on your list to clean up, but somehow you just put it off. You know, the old wooden Croyer crates that were solid sided and also came in a summer version with removable sides. Stack sets and grooming tops as well. Each with a brass plaque proudly displaying a kennel name. Or was it the age of Davey Schaff and his oak beauties? They were heavy enough to have a two-man team lift them. Or the aluminum collapsible McGee crates from Southern California that Afghan Hounds owner would rather die than not have to ferry their dogs. Then there was a resurgence of custom-made wood crates led by Eddie Boyes, who made them for Terrier and Toy breeds. On the East Coast we were spoiled by that beer and card playing club, The Foley Boys — men who were at the shows every weekend to help unload your dogs and equipment. As “the boys” aged, so did the exhibitors, those wood crates got heavier and heavier, and then lo and behold plastic airline crates became the rage. These crates in multiple sizes came complete with airline baggage stickers, an homage to the steamship luggage stickers from different parts of the world. Plastic crates saw the end of brass kennel-name plates, replaced by the use of magic markers with instructions like “Show Dog,” “Do Not Feed,” “Do Not Open.” Then came those love-them-or-hate-them netted collapsible enclosures. Not quite as popular as before, you still see them about, mostly on child strollers that have become the Toy-breed prams of the dog shows, although every now and then some breeds are barely able to fit in them. You probably have one of each kind, stacked, collecting dust. But things that go out of fashion ultimately come back in, and to prove that point, recently retired handler Scott Sommer sold his wooden crates, some handled down from Michael Kemp, his former employer. He sold them in record time. Now it seems the most popular is the East Coast Crates Company, which comes in an array of sizes, stack sets and tables, and in a rainbow of colors, with wheels if you like. That wall of crates represents decades of dog shows, occupied by some dogs that went onto be famous, and others not so much. Like a favorite lead or other souvenir of a dog’s campaign, those crates that they traveled in are the last things to go. Actually, they don't go: They remain a great memory of days gone by. In another year or two, you’ll have those thoughts again. But for now, throw out the old lawn mower and call it a day. 



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