Shadowgate

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on July 11, 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
screwdriver."

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