The last time I went to the vet I was thinking how nice it would be to have a stroller for my cat or small dog. Both my animals can not be vaccinated and I hate worrying about some other dog slobbering on them or worse on the way down the hall to see the vet. On top of that my Father in Law recently went into assisted living and I wanted to bring our pets in to visit him but not have to worry about others coming into contact with them.
I had started looking at the strollers and was put off by the price. Most of them were upwards of $100 so I just let it sit. As it turned out I got a great deal on this stroller and just could not pass it up.
Assembly of Pet Gear Happy Trails Stroller
I have to say that the worst part of this stroller was putting it together. It really was not that the job was difficult it is just that the instructions were completely inadequate. You have to put the brakes and wheels all onto the axle and then put the assembly onto the back legs of the stroller. The instructions said to put the wheels on but said nothing about the brake assembly so there was no way to fit them onto the stroller. I had to basically figure it out myself. There is also a tray that fits up near the top to put drinks on and while it mentioned this in the “what comes with it” section, there was no mention of how to attach it. Luckily I was able to take apart things I had already put together to do it differently. In all I had to attach the front wheels and the back wheels axle and brakes plus the drink tray. This would have taken five minutes with good instructions, but took me more like twenty minutes since I had to wing it.
Photos of my Pets in the stroller
Here is a photo of my cat Tinkerbelle lounging in the stroller. We took this shortly after we got it so you can see that he took right to it.
The second photo is my 25lb Cairn Terrier Riley in the stroller with our cat Tinkerbelle looking on (a little jealous maybe?)
Description of Pet Stroller
The Pet stroller reminds me of a baby stroller except that you can feel that some parts are more the quality of a toy stroller(see below) When the stroller is opened it measures 17.5″ at its widest point (the wheels) and is 40″ tall from the ground to the top of the handle. From front to back it measures 24″.
Opening the stroller: Simply grasp the handle and pull it to an open upright position. There is a connector on each side that you have to make sure they are locked into place. I made the mistake of not checking this and while I was putting it together I pinched my fingers in one of them so check on the sides to make sure they are firmly in place before use.
Pet Compartment: The Pet compartment is about the size and shape of a soft carrier with a higher top where the shade is. It measures a generous 24″ long and 12″ wide. It is 20″ high. This is large enough for any pet that would fit into the 30 lbs or less category that the stroller says it will accommodate. I have a 25 lb Cairn Terrier and I am not sure I would put a much larger dog in there. Our cat is a large cat at 14lbs and he fits perfectly and is able to stretch out and lounge in the stroller.
There is a zippered opening that goes all across the back opening that unzips and can be rolled up and held up with a velcro tab. The material of the zippered area is a tough nylon mesh that seems to be reinforced with plastic. A determined pet could claw his way out though so do not leave your pet unattended when he is zipped into the carrier.
The front part of the pet section unzips completely also with a heavy duty zipper similar to that on a jacket. All the zippers are coated with a smooth shiny black enamel. The zipper on the back is always attached but the one on the front detaches completely and has to be started like you would a jacket. All the zippers work well with no catches. Most of the top front and back are all made from the see through black mesh with the extra coating for protection.
When the front section is unzipped you can also fold back the visor much like you would on a baby stroller. For use most of these zippers will be zipped up though and the openings are just there to get your pet in and out. Unless you have a very old dog that can hardly stand up I would worry that he would jump out and injure himself, if you were pushing the stroller with any of the openings in the open position.
The rest of the pet compartment is made of sturdy nylon and there is a removable pad that the pet sits on that is black and a plus fabric with light padding. The bottom part is also padded. I would suggest putting something over the removable pad so that you can easily wash it if need be. The top part of the pet compartment is tan and brown and quite attractive looking.
Storage Tray: Underneath the pet compartment is a black nylon basket that is held in place by metal bars and you can put your purse or any other supplies that you might need to bring with you. It is a large enough compartment but remember that the stroller holds only 30 lbs so if your dog is 25 lbs do not put anything greater than 5 lbs in the basket. With the wheels being kinds thin I would observe the weight limit strictly. The Storage compartment is 6.5″ high 11.5″ wide, and 12″ from front to back. The opening is longer near the top than it is at the bottom. The measurements I gave were at their smallest point.
Folding for storage: To fold the stroller you have to press a button on the handle and then slide a lever right next to it to release and then twist that whole part forward while bending the stroller handle back toward the floor. Make sure that the front is unzipped before you attempt this because it can not close up unless the front is unzipped. I was not really impressed with that fact and wished it folded forward instead. The front zipper is hardest to do and generally you would put your pet in through the back zipper. Once you fold the stroller back there is a hook that can be swung into place to keep it in the closed position.
Brakes: The stroller comes equipped with brakes on the back wheels that can be pressed down to keep the stroller from rolling away.
Drink Tray: At the top of the stroller near the handles is a cup holder that would hold two small cups or water bottles.
Quality of the Pet Gear Happy Trails Stroller
The quality of the stroller itself was fine but not comparable to what you would see with a baby stroller. The most quality was in the compartment that the pet actually sits in. I found that the wheels were really cheap hollow plastic that seemed like something I would see on a doll stroller. I am wondering how long they will last. I would think that they would be the first thing to go. I am almost thinking about contacting the company and getting a spare set so that when they wear out I will have a back up. I am assuming that the rest of the stroller will hold up for many years. The zippers seem heavy duty and the mesh is strong enough to take a little bit of abuse.
Our usage and experience
We have just started using the stroller and have only taken it out once with the cat inside. He seemed curious about the stroller immediately and wanted to jump right in. I got it at night and put it together and we took our cat for a spin while the dog walked on his leash. The cat was totally enthralled with the whole experience.
After we brought it in we decided to leave it set up with the openings open and the brakes on so that our cat could get used to it. This took no time at all. I placed the stroller in the front window where the sun streams in and for two days straight the cat has been lounging in the stroller. I let the dog sit in there for a bit and he seemed to like it too. I think it is safe for the cat to jump in and out of but do not think I would allow my 25lb dog to try to jump in or out. I think that not only could he hurt himself but he is large enough that even with the brakes in place he might send the stroller flying when he tried to jump out.
When we were rolling it on the sidewalk it rolled easily but is quite light weight so remember to use care when using it with your pet. Also like I mentioned earlier the wheels are not all that sturdy looking so I would be cautious about using this to go really fast or anything crazy. Besides that if you want your pet to be safe you should be very careful. I would not let a child push the stroller with a pet inside unless he was being supervised by an adult.
One thing that I think might have been helpful for the carrier would be a way to attach a dog harness just for a little extra safety. I think if I had an old invalid dog that I wanted to walk in it I would feel more secure if he was attached to a harness. I think it might make the dog feel more secure too and that way you could open the zippered compartments without worrying that the dog or cat can jump out and get away before you have a chance to get his leash. I am thinking I might be able to figure out a way to add a strap to accomplish this.