Locked In!


At risk of making sure that the friend who visited me last week never comes to visit me again, this week’s blog post is ALSO going to be inspired by her dog. (Last week, I wrote about how she never leaves her dog in the car – ever!  – a practice that I find admirable but impractical for me, personally.)

My friend’s 10-month-old dog and my 14-month-old dog, Woody, got along beautifully – if you can call it beautiful when two adolescent males are rolling around in a wrestling ball that takes them over, under, around, and through most people and obstacles in their path. They loved, loved, loved playing the same sort of tug/chase/face-biting/wrestling games, and could go for hours! But when we made plans to leave the house and visit some places where the two youngsters couldn’t accompany us, we mutually decided to separate the boys so neither could get hurt or overwhelmed by the other while we were out.  It was time for a play break! The question was, where would we leave my friend’s dog?

At home, he spends my friend’s work day in an exercise pen, but she thought that here, in a strange home, he might be more comfortable in the bedroom where she slept with him in my office/house. He was tired enough from playing, that it seemed likely that he would just sleep on the bed the whole time we were gone. He had been too excited that morning to eat, so my friend left him with a couple of food-stuffed Kongs.

We went out for about four hours.

When we pulled up to the house on our return, my friend looked up at the window of the room where she had left her dog, and exclaimed, “Oh no! I’m so sorry!” I looked up, too, and saw that the shade that had been rolled down over that window was all shredded at the bottom. I wasn’t worried AT ALL about the super inexpensive shade – I’ve had human tenants ruin them accidentally by pulling them down too far and making them come off their rollers. But I was a bit worried about what the rest of the room might look like – AND whether we had freaked the puppy out by leaving him in the strange place. Would this be the start of some separation anxiety? Ack!

We entered the house, and I went straight to the back door, to let Woody go outside. My friend ran straight up the stairs, to let her dog out. Then I heard her call, “Hey Nancy, the door is locked!”

“What?” I responded, running up the stairs. “Those doors don’t lock!” I knew this because, over a year ago, my step-grandson had stayed in one of those bedrooms, and I had checked to make sure he couldn’t accidentally lock himself in his room; this house was built in 1890-something, and the door hardware looks to be original! His bedroom didn’t have a lock on it.

But, oh, crap, the front bedroom did!!

My friend and I sprang into McGuyver mode. I ran downstairs for tools. We took the doorknob off – the door stayed locked. I ran around and found a skeleton key; there was a skeleton key-shaped hole in the door, but no actual hardware inside the existing hole. I ran around and examined all the other upstairs doors; the other two bedrooms had no locks. But the closet door, nonsensically, had a lock on the outside of the door – a tiny little metal switch that the user would flip from left to right (or vice versa) to lock and unlock. And that was apparently what my friend’s dog did.  AND, there appeared to be no way to unlock it, other than flipping that switch. Great!

Well, there was nothing else to be done. “I’m going to have to see if we can just kick the door, and hopefully break the piece of trim that the door locks to,” I told my friend. Fortunately, both she and her dog were staying calm.

It took a dozen or so hard kicks, but the best possible thing happened: the piece of wood trim that the door lock is fastened to didn’t splinter, but (gradually) came off the wall in one solid piece. They don’t make wood trim (or doors) like that anymore! It will be easy to just nail back, and with a little touch-up paint, no one will ever know!

The best part: The shade was the only other thing in the room that the adolescent dog damaged, and who could blame him? We should have left it open so he could see outside! It appeared that after what was probably a brief session of jumping up on the window frame and the door (thus inadvertently flipping the door-locking switch), he had slept the rest of the time we were out. No serious harm done.

So, while as a fairly new step-grandparent I had been concerned and aware of the danger of a toddler locking a lock that had no key, as a much more experienced dog owner, I never dreamed that a dog might do the same. Just one more learning experience, I guess!

Has your dog ever been locked in, or have you ever been locked out, by doggy paws? Tell me I’m not the only one!