There are some days when you have time to sit down and write, but no stories to tell. There are some days when you have so many stories and just no time to sit down and tell them. Today happens to be the latter.
We spent last week in Punta Cana after making a last minute decision to run off into the sunset. We had been informed that our littlest cractpot needed another surgery that was going to knock him off his feet for a while, so we scrambled to arrange work schedules, threw some things into a suitcase and just pressed the pause button during an incredibly hectic time of year.
Unfortunately when we landed, real life caught up with a vengeance. I’ve been so busy running, I haven’t even had a chance to unpack my hair straightener.
This is akin to a my husband not unpacking his prescription glasses, or my daughter surgically removing her phone from her hand. You think I jest, but I was the only member of our group to have her hair patted down during airport security. Apparently after a week in the tropical humidity, my hair got so large it was capable of smuggling alcohol, drugs, or perhaps a small Dominican family across the border.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Before we were even able to start looking for sunny locales, we needed to find someone to watch our dogs while we were away. This sounds like a simple enough task, and in fact we have close friends who own and operate a wonderful kennel that I know would love and care for our babies as their own. However, as much as I adore our dogs, one of them is a Jerk.
He is bossy, and stubborn and too clever for his own good. Any speculation about dogs taking on characteristics of their owners aside, I was worried that no matter where we left him, he would find a way to escape, stow away and show up at the hotel just to let us know exactly how disappointed he was in us. Any damages or federal offenses incurred would of course be on our conscience to resolve so even though we had yet to find a door that he could not open, we needed to renew our training efforts before unleashing him on our loved ones.
I believe in positive reinforcement, but we needed to actually keep him contained in order to reward him. We knew he was able to maneuver different types of door handles. We knew he was strong enough to push past various weighted obstacles placed on the outside of the door. (see here) We decided to focus on restricting his access to the door altogether. Our basement entrance is at the top of the stairs, so by placing a gate across the bottom not only did we hope to keep him off the stairs and therefore away from the door completely, we were optimistic that even if he succeeded in getting past the first barrier, managing the handle on a decline would prove trickier that opening doors on a level playing field. Obviously we were very naïve.
Step 2 was suggesting removing the door handle all together. I surmised as long as we ensured he didn’t have access to screw driver there was no possible way he could escape.
We were right, however I felt less than enthusiastic about subjecting our friends to his single minded determinedness.
I really believed that if we could just convince him that resistance was futile he might stop being so destructive. I could only presume that being able to see the possibility in the hole left when we removed the handle, inspired him to work at enlarging it enough that he could fit through. I assumed that if we just covered up that potential, he would see that there was no means of escape.
As I write that now, I feel foolish. You know what they say about assuming.
Despite my husbands protests and valid arguments about breaking fire code and serious concerns about what would happen if we happened to go into the basement and shut the door, I felt desperate enough to try it.
We used plywood and screws and power tools.
The dog used grit and determination.
So far we had not left the dog for longer than three hours. I shuddered to think what he could accomplish in a week.
Despite our dislike of cages we tried crating him. On top of managing to move the entire crate from it’s starting position at the back of the house to the front door where he greeted me when I returned home (scratching the floor in the process) he more concernedly bent the heck out of the bars, chipping a tooth in the process.
Even surrounded by ravaged handles, demolished doors, scratched floors and crushed cages, my main concern was always protecting the darned dog from harm. I postulated that a muzzle might stop him from chewing and protect his mouth and teeth, but worried about the stress of crating him and muzzling him at the same time. I theorized about talking to the vet about administering some sort of drug to help relax him but my husband felt this was too extreme. His solution was brainstorming ways to put the basement stairs on a sort of pulley system so that they could be pulled up like a draw bridge. My son liked the way this was sounding and suggested adding a moat just to be on the safe side.
I wish I was making any of this up.
In the end, I was on the right track. Drugs were the answer.
After administering a few pills, I felt a lot more relaxed and, after confessing to our friends that we were leaving them a dog who might or might not be channelling El Chapo, allowed myself to be convinced that everything was going to be all right. The kennel was constructed in concrete and the doors were steel so barring access to a blow torch, they felt confident that he would be safe.
So….will the Cractpots get to go on vacation?
Will their canine companion outwit them all?
Stay tuned for Part 2, the continuing story of a Cractpot who has gone to the dogs when you’ll get to hear Mrs. Cractpot say, “Wait, what exactly is a typhoon?”.
A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart~Judy Desmond (Authors note: I wonder how they are at mending doors?)