ShadowgatePosted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on July 11th, 2008
Everybody loves Shadow. They can’t help themselves. He’s a big ole’ bear of a dog and sweet as can be. Unless, of course, you’re a Chihuahua, or Chew Wow!Wow!, as Shadow would call them, but that’s another story.
Shadow is a lot smarter than he looks and he has a wicked sense of humor. Even though his favorite place is the living room couch, he likes to go into the bedrooms, knock over trash pails and spread the contents around, eat all the cats’ food, visit their litter… you get the picture. Fed up with cleaning trash off the floor and cats who couldn’t get to their food, I put a gate into the hallway to keep Shadow out of the bedrooms. It was difficult for people to open the gate, but, Shadow could open it easily: he would grab the bottom cross beam with his jaw, pull it up and out. He could open that gate in less than five seconds, much quicker than I could undo the latch at hand level.
So, I called Fred. Fred is well known around our town. He’s the local handy man; who looks sort of like "Mr. Clean" and drives around in a brightly painted van that includes the words: "Ooh, Papa Do." Just about everything that’s been fixed at my house has been fixed by Fred. I showed Fred the gate and explained the problem to him. He jiggled a few things, squinted and said, "You’re telling me that Shadow opens this gate?" "Yup." I suggested to Fred that we walk out the front door, as if we were leaving the house. As he followed me out, Fred announced very loudly, "we’re leaving the house, Shadow. We’ll probably be gone for the whole afternoon." I interrupted him to say, "Fred; we can go back in now." As we entered, there was Shadow, walking through the gate.
I suggested putting a Dutch door in the hallway, but Fred thought that would be out of keeping with my décor. Fred is also my interior design consultant. We opted for another gate that works with a foot peddle. Shadow and I left for the office and when we returned, Fred had clearly risen to the challenge. That gate was bolted in like Fort Knox. That thing was set to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Shadow examined the new gate and had it open in about one minute. He was able to maneuver the foot peddle, so that it jumped off. I called Fred.
This time, when I suggested
we walk out the front door, he didn’t say anything. A few seconds
later, we re-entered, giving us a birds-eye view of Shadow at work. He
was through the new gate in about ten seconds. Fred said, "I’ve heard
about animals like this, but I’ve never actually met one." He squatted
in front of the gate and jiggled things around, as we discussed our
options. Then, he announced, "We’re not cooked yet." Shadow lay on the
rug, listening intently to our conversation and Fred suggested that
perhaps, we ought not to talk in front of him. He got his tools out of
the van and placed bolts on either side of the foot peddle, and within
a few minutes, he had altered it so that it would no longer jump out of
place. We shook hands, hoping that our reputedly superior human
intellect had finally prevailed. As he walked toward his van, Fred
waived and warned, "Now, don’t teach that dog how to use a Phillips