I have a new little foster dog staying with me. The manager of my shelter called me last week and wanted to know if I would give her my opinion; she had been returned to the shelter twice and the manager was puzzled, because she seemed great!
Long story short, I think she is great. I think the two failed placements were not the right fit for her, that’s all. And I like her so much, I have a home in mind for her. But the family I’m thinking of will have to leave her home alone for chunks of time, and because I was working around the clock all last week, I haven’t yet had a chance to see how she does when left alone for more than 20 minutes at a time.
I shipped the April issue to the printer on Monday morning and decided that the little dog’s “home alone” tests would start that day. I left the dog in my detached little office building by herself, with a frozen Kong toy that was stuffed with canned food and her dry food scattered around on the floor of the office. I went into the house to eat breakfast, take a shower, and answer some emails. From the house, I would be able to hear if she started barking or causing a fuss.
About an hour later, I came back out to the office. As I approached the door I could see her through the glass door, sitting calmly – good job, little dog! I went to open the door and – hey, why won’t the door open? It seemed to be jammed, somehow!
I cupped my hands to the glass and looked more closely through the window. Oh crap! When I left the office, there had been a folding, soft crate leaned up against a file cabinet, across from the door, and it had fallen toward the door – been pushed over, more likely, by a dog pushing a food-stuffed Kong around the office. Unfortunately, now it was lying flat on the ground between the door and the file cabinet, where it fit perfect to very effectively block the door from opening. Ay yi yi! What a fix we were in! There are three little windows in my office, and all of them are locked. Breaking a window was the only alternative to solving this puzzle to open the door.
Fortunately, the door could open about a quarter of an inch. It took me about a half-hour to find something on my property that I could use to slip through the tiny slit between the door and the frame, hook onto some part of the folding crate, and pull the crate up. It had to be very slender, at least a couple feet long, flexible enough to bend around the door, and strong enough to lift the large crate. A wire coat hanger was not strong enough, nothing plastic was skinny or flexible enough. I kept walking around the properly, looking for something.
Ultimately, I used bolt cutters to cut up a round wire tomato cage, the bottom loop of which met all the requirements: strong, slender, long, and flexible. Then I sat in front of the door, fishing with my wire, trying to catch a strap on the crate. The little dog sat on the flattened crate on the other side of the door, watching me and the movement of the wire intently.
Finally I hooked a strap! I had to bang on the door – “Back! Get back!” – to get the dog to get off the crate, so I could lift the end of the crate enough to push open the door and free the little dog. Hurray! I spent only an hour trying to free her from her hour-long isolation test.
I’ll try again tomorrow, but you can bet that I’ll dog-proof the office a little more thoroughly this time.