They're considered man's best friend and some people put an exceptional amount of money, love, and care into their dog. And now there's a product made right here in KELOLAND that some believe is the ultimate in dog safety.
It's a sight that you don't have to go far to find in South Dakota. Chances are you either own a dog yourself or know someone who does. But you might not have heard of the Ruff Tough Kennel.
“I love them, love them,” Ruff Tough Kennels distributor and product development specialist Dan Griffith said. “We're never satisfied. We will try to continue to improve in every way we can. You never sit back and say we’ve developed the perfect product."
Griffith uses the product he distributes. He's used different crates in the past and says it didn't take him long to want one of his own.
"Finally a product that is safe, will last a lifetime, is everything I need to protect my dogs when I’m traveling and keep them in a safe crate," Griffith said.
In fact, safety is one the top reasons these kennels have their current popularity. Griffith recalls one story of a vehicle that hit a patch of ice and rolled. One dog was in a Ruff Tough Kennel and the other wasn't.
"The black lab in the other kennel was laying in the ditch dead, the black lab in our kennel, by the time they pried the tail gate open and opened up the kennel, the dog came out and they never even took it to the vet, totally uninjured," Griffith said.
"I love the thing,” dog owner TJ Greer said. “[The] biggest thing for me is I have quite a bit of money invested in my dog, training wise and just emotionally and that dog is a buddy of mine. So I do what you can to protect him."
Greer has had his dog in one of the kennels for just under a year.
"The nicest thing is you don't have a weak spot. Being all one piece, you know, you don't have little screws or little bolts holding them together. It's a solid kennel, very well built. Nice to see something finally out there that's more than just a carrier," Greer said.
“It actually makes you feel really good when someone calls and tells you that you saved their dogs life," Co-Owner of Ruff Tough Kennels, Doug Sangal, said.
Sangal and Co-Owner Lyle VanKalsbeek came up with the idea about three years ago.
“They're built out of the same material that a lot of kayaks are made out of. Corn heads, ag tanks, fenders on road graters, that's all the same material," Sangal said.
And they're made using a process called rotational molding. A hollow cavity is filled with a powder resin, put in an oven and cooked all while rotating.
"It takes about an hour, 15 minutes for it come around and produce one part," Sangal said.
If you're thinking one of these crates might make a great fit for your canine companions, one of the hardest things might be just getting one in your hands.
"It's hard to get them. Being a distributor kind of came about by accident. My biggest problem now is being able to supply the people that want the product," Griffith said.
"We get them in, get two, three, four of them and in a week or two later there gone and were ordering more. It's been a really good product for the store," Greer said.
Greer also works at Cabela's in Mitchell. And while it's a hot product here, he says their popularity reaches farther than just South Dakota.
"I know guys in Colorado that are using the kennel,” Greer said. “People in Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, they're getting a good following."
"We're in all 48 states and Alaska and we also have a dealer in Slovakia, a guy that does sled dogs over there, he's selling our product over there. And we've sold into Canada," Sangal said.
They're not just for hunting dogs either. With five sizes, there's a fit for everything from Great Danes to the family lap dog. They're also made to be stacked and have a strap down system.
"I think the neatest thing is it’s made in South Dakota,” Greer said. “People [say], oh that's that kennel made in South Dakota, and you have that pride of not just made in state, but also made in the United States really helps out a lot."
The kennels were even recently spotted on a reality TV show, ‘Call Of The Wildman.’ After a wild coyote was caught, they put it in a Ruff Tough Kennel.