Thirty-five years ago I got my first dog cart. Paid $150.00 for it from a saddlery store in Toronto. It was made by a company that no longer exists, Pearson Town and Country Carts, and to this day I have not found any better. That was lucky for me as I knew nothing about carts at the time and two years later I began a dog carting outfitter business that lasted a quarter of a century until my son, Allan, took it over.
I still have my original dog cart and it is in excellent shape. Wheels and tires have been replaced, the seat re-upholstered and the wooden whiffle tree changed to a metal one. Of course it has been re-painted a few times. It is my shining example of a good value purchase. While this particular cart is not for sale, I use it to show people that a good dog cart holds its value and you can usually sell it years later for more than what you paid for it. It is also representative of why buying used is a good idea. Of course when buying anything used you need to know what to look for.
On Carting-L someone was wise enough to ask for advice. This was their query:
I posted some pics of an old dog cart. Does anyone know if this a good one? It is at least 25 yrs old, probably older. It’s in good shape but needs paint. The person wants a lot for it so thought I would check here to see if I am getting taken.
Naturally I couldn’t resist responding:
This is a crude version of the typical tubular steel cart made by someone who had limited metal working skills. The wood would not only make it heavier than it should be but likely has thrown out the balance which is important for a cart unlike a wagon. The shafts are wide at the rear as they should be but do not come in close together at the front to enable proper harnessing. The cart lacks a whiffle-tree which is needed with a two trace system to convert the two point pull of a dog to a single point of pressure on the cart. Finally it does not have a safety guard on the inside of the wheels to prevent young passengers from putting their feet in the spokes.
I could have also added that the plain seat would be more comfortable for tender behinds if it was upholstered but this is something that can easily be done after you purchase it.
Take a look at the photos of the old dog cart (top row) that was for sale and then at mine (bottom row). You can see how the wood can throw out the balance by putting extra weight towards the front. The difference in the shafts is dramatic. On my cart, note the whiffle tree and the wheel safety guard; however these last two items can easily (and should) be added.Peter Maniate is a Newfoundland dog breeder and a professional trainer specializing in dog carting. Since 1979 he has been writing a bi-monthly column in the Newf News entitled Carting Corner. The preceding column originally appeared in the July/August, 2011 issue. Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.