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This is a humorous story of how one cargo liner and two big dogs got the best of Big Dog Mom. The moral of this story: focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

One Cargo Liner, Two Big Dogs, and One Embarrassing Weakness

Let me back up.

Big Dog Mom Weakness Revealed

About a year ago, my husband and I started to plan and save for a new vehicle to replace our 2007 Ford Explorer.  With worsening transmission issues (on a third transmission) and over 200,000 miles, we knew the Explorer’s days were numbered.  We also knew that we wanted another dog.  And not just any dog, a mastiff.  With family vacations with our two big dogs in mind, we needed a bigger vehicle.  There was no question about it.

We found a used 2014 Lincoln Navigator at a local car dealer, and despite an ugly interior, we knew it would work for our growing family, which now included our mastiff puppy, Junior.

The Perfect Cargo Liner For Big Dogs

Unfortunately for me, and you will soon see why the ugly interior included black carpet in the back end where the dogs were going to be riding.   And not just any carpet.

The kind of carpet that little, needle size dog hairs are IMPOSSIBLE to remove from.

My husband scoured the internet for the best cargo liner money could buy.

A liner that was made for the Lincoln Navigator.  An expensive cargo liner.

One so perfectly sized, if you said “like a glove” you would be spot on.

The day it came in the mail, my husband installed it and was thrilled with how it fit.

He loved that it also had a rubber backing which prevented the cargo liner from sliding under the dogs.  Smart thinking!  Around each headrest is a clip that creates a barrier for the dogs and is supposed to prevent them from entering the cabin area of the car between the two bucket seats.

Truth be told, the cargo liner fabric IS better than the carpet, but NOT needle dog hair proof.  And that rubber pad?  No, that didn’t really work either since it was sitting on the carpet.

Since it fits so perfectly, we overlooked those small details initially.

Things Take A Turn For The Worst… Thanks To One Big Dog

Some genius decided to make this Navigator cargo liner with a huge zip/seam right where space is between those two bucket seats.

Just a few days after putting it in, Sulley leaned his humongous 185-pound bottom against it and ripped it.  And not just a small rip.  From top to bottom, the entire zipper seam crumbled under the pressure of Sulley’s rear end.

This was an enormous problem!  One that needed a remedy and fast.

Junior was still learning car manners and without a barrier, would be more than happy to sit between the buckets seats next to his two favorite kids.

Cargo Liner Solution

My solution was to take the ripped cargo liner out and put a thin piece of plywood up so Junior wouldn’t jump into the front until I had the chance to sew the liner.  That worked… marginally.  On several occasions, Junior did decide to hop over my clearly imperfect barrier, just because he could.

Big Dog Mom To The Rescue

Because I have no idea how to operate my still-in-the-box-brand-new-sewing machine and, frankly, I’m a little afraid of it, that dumb cargo liner sat on my dining room table for two weeks.

No exaggeration.

It became the daily and constant reminder of my biggest, most glaring weakness.

Every day, with every load of laundry folded on top of it, shuffling it from one end of the table to the other as I worked around it, it stared at me mockingly.

Sewing Basket
© 2019 Big Dog Mom, LLC

With a not-so-gentle nudge from my husband, I finally broke down and hand-stitched the cargo liner.

I spent several hours one Sunday afternoon vacuuming out the back end of the Navigator to get it back into its pre-liner condition before we re-installed the liner.

Ironically, one of the few things I acquired from my mother after she passed was her sewing box.  It contains all sorts of little metal gadgets (which a friend told me are called bobbins), thread in many different colors, all different-sized needles, scissors, and a bunch of pins with white balls on the ends.

Feeling very domestic, I dusted off my mom’s sewing box and pulled out some black thread and a needle, and hand-stitched the zipper so my liner was all in one fully-functional piece.

I impressed myself with how well it turned out…. So much so, I wished now I had gotten a picture of it.

With a semi-clean black carpet and a mended “perfectly fitted” cargo liner installed back into the Navigator, I was ready to rock and roll once again.

That was a good day!

Weakness Revealed

Navigator Liner - Junior Mastiff Dog After Rip
© 2019 Big Dog Mom, LLC

The next morning, on the way to drop the kids off at school, with Junior and Sulley comfortably in the back end of our Navigator on their newly stitched-up cargo liner, the unthinkable occurred.

I watched adorable Junior from the rearview mirror put one giant puppy paw on top of my newly stitched seam and rip it straight to the bottom in a slow, but steady, “rrrriiiiiiiiiiiipppp.”

Frantic, I pleaded with my 7-year-old son to stop the madness!

Do something, anything, to make him stop!

There was nothing he could do.  The damage was done.

I suck at sewing and it was put on full display for everyone to see that day.

As salt in my openly wounded heart, Junior laid down right on the seam for the rest of the ride, quite comfortable in his roomy new bed, watching me from the rearview mirror the whole time.

I don’t know who was laughing at me more, my mom up in Heaven or Junior.

Cargo Liner Saga Continues

Several weeks later, with the ripped liner still in the Navigator, and my makeshift wood barrier in place, we had some friends from Illinois stay with us for a week.

Fortunately for me, my friend is much more talented than I am, and, as an added bonus, is NOT afraid of sewing machines.

With me cheering her on and praying harder than I ever have before, her efforts to sew my liner proved to be an impossible task due to the rubber backing.

Big Dog Cargo Liner Team =1

Big Dog Mom =0

Dog Name Navigator Liner Junior Mastiff Dog Puppy
© 2019 Big Dog Mom, LLC

So here it is now.  Still ripped.  Still hairy.  Still being masked with a piece of plywood.

An embarrassment of epic proportions.  The daily, constant reminder of my most glaring weakness.

On my To-Do List: Go to Cabela’s and buy a fishing line then to Michaels for bigger needles.

If all else fails, go shopping for a new cargo liner.

For more humor from life with big dogs, read Life Lessons: What I Learned from an iPad, Flip Flops, and Two Big Dogs


  1. This is hysterical!!!! Love this!! I know what a Bobbin is but would have no idea how to use it – I feel for you in the situation! ???

  2. When I was in elementary school, I got a sewing kit of my own (box, shears, needles, ripper, thimble, all colors of thread, pin cushion, pins, measuring tape …) and I treasured that to no end. When my Mom died, I got hers too. A totally sentimental prospect. By the way, I have a couple of sewing machines (my grandmother’s, my Mom’s … and one I picked up free off Craigslist) and I’m too intimidated to even try. Not even once. I hand sew EVERYTHING … which was quite an undertaking when I sewed myself a body pillow six feet long and 2-3 feet in diameter (and after sewing the pillow, I made a pillow case for it too!) I’m glad to hear I’m in good company! Thank you for linking up to the Showcase!

    1. Oh my that is so funny! You are definitely in good company! I’m pretty impressed with the body pillow! I’m sure it’s awesome, even if it was hand stitched. This liner was the largest project I have undertaken so far. But I guess now that I’m doing it again today for the third time… that is the equivalent to a decent sized project.

  3. OH NO! Sometimes our bravest attempts just underline a weakness. Thing is for me you did what you could but, that is a lot of loving dog on a small seam. Maybe the manufacturer could rethink the design, or better yet, you could design your own and market it for others who may well have the same problems. Every down side usually has an up!

    1. Thank you so much, Erin! You and I think so much alike. The thought of designing something giant dog proof had crossed my mind. It was also a fleeting thought to just learn how to use my sewing machine. Haha!

  4. Since I am hopeless at sewing myself, I had a feeling I knew where this story was going!! 🙂 I don’t even bother trying anymore. I just buy new stuff (not so easy when it’s a big item like that though!).

    1. Thank you, Jan! Yeah, I’m now at the point where it truly is a battle between me and this liner. I just can’t figure out why my stitching doesn’t hold. This last time I stitched it using 3 threads and going up and down the seam twice.

  5. Oh…I’m sorry I laughed, but it reminded me of how MY sewing machine often times sits on MY dining room table.

    And the dog hairs…oh my gosh, how in the world do they get themselves into the predicaments they do?

    I’m glad you finally got it resolved, even if it took longer than you wanted it to. Thank you for joining the Showcase, finding new blogs to read is one of the great benefits.

    1. Haha! Thank you, Jodi! I don’t mind you laughing at all. Junior ripped that liner again on our drive up to Idaho for his first dog show. Me and the kids battled him crawling into the front of our Navigator the entire 16 hours home. A day in a life I guess. I finally have it clean and ready to sew for a third time. Looking for some mastiff-butt proof thread as we speak. 😉

  6. I feel your pain. Because I walk two spirited squirrel obsessed standard poodles with my surgically reconstructed shoulder, I wear 20 year old leather bike gloves to keep the leashes from pulling me along like a kite on a windy day. My female Spoo has far more squirrel interest than the male and her antics wore a hole through the gloves. Afters a couple months of watching the hole disintegrate more and more, I went to Michaels, bought a piece of coordinating leather, a leather needle and extra strong thread and [finally] stitched the leather piece over the hole across the palm. ⭐️ Gold star to me, because it’s held and functions ‘pawfectly.’ Looks like I these gloves were pulled from in a dumpster, but it’s saved my shoulder. Besides, no one looks twice at me, they’re too busy admiring these regal squirrel chasers. ?Remember, necessity is the mother of invention and you’ll get ‘er done. BTW, nice purchase on the vehicle. I’m sure people only notice the dogs inhabiting it. P.S. Your fur-kids are adorably cute!

    1. Thank you so much! What a funny story! Necessity is definitely the mother of invention. How awesome you got your gloves mended and they have remained in one piece to combat your wild squirrel chasers. I will eventually fix my liner for good…still looking for just the right materials to make it mastiff bottom-proof. 🙂

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