13 April 2010

Best made plans

Dogs have a way of outsmarting us humans. We make plans and execute our plans carefully. Then a dog comes along, casually sniffs out the one single deficiency, and in a nanosecond, topples the fruits of your labor, all the while wagging her tail happily.

This is the way it has been with the doggy door.

Developing a plan for restricted canine access to the dog run area of the yard throughout the work day was an essential element of our initial move-in plan. We carefully planned a location for the door, selected a contractor for the installation, planned the design for the perimeter fence around the dog run, planned for the exterior pathway leading to the door and purchased all the requisite materials.

It seemed like a reasonable plan. Dogs would have the freedom to stay indoors or outdoors during the day, would not be subjected to the risk of falling into the pool, and on lawn mowing days, we would simply pop the cover over the doggy door and they would stay safely indoors.

So we executed against the plan. Mucho time consuming. No small expense.

Flaw #1 – commercially-made doggy door covers are designed to trick humans into thinking that they are actual barriers. This assumption is false. The simple pop-on doggy door cover we have can be removed by a crafty canine in a matter of moments. It is no match for a dog with an agenda.

Flaw #2 – temporary fencing is temporary, at best. During the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, we installed some deer fencing at my old house to keep the dogs inside the yard after the back fence blew down. It was very effective as a short-term solution. We decided to take this success and expand it to a larger scale, for a longer duration, by using deer fencing to cordon off the perimeter of the dog run. However, because of the variable terrain and other factors, there were weaknesses in the fence that the dogs quickly identified. Quick, as in instantaneously. Scaled the fence, no problem. Over the subsequent months, we (and when I say we, I actually mean Cristy) have conducted countless repairs to this temporary fence to remedy each breach of integrity.

These two initial, but fatal flaws in our logic resulted in a ripple effect of downstream problems, exacerbated by our attempts to outwit our clever companion dogs with creative solutions to these problems. Each activity, consequently falling into the aforementioned mucho-time-consuming and no-small-expense categories.

The remedies seem to be the most obvious. 1. stack up some heavy things in front of the doggy door blocking access to the door. 2. get a professional to build a real fence.

OK (head hanging in embarrassment), OK.

Fencing contractor completed the work yesterday. After we return the leftover lumber to Home Depot, I can start working on getting the leftover splinters out of my hands and maybe, just maybe, put the doggy-door episodes to rest.

Too optimistic? We shall see.


  1. We've been talking about fencing in our yard for years. Meanwhile we have a really long lead for Flanders and do lots of walks. We so need a fence. In the worst way. Let me know if you're happy with yours.

  2. Oh, what a GREAT post!

    Aren't animals amazingly clever in outsmarting us humans?

    Speaking of, have you ever had cats? I love them, but OMG, are they SMART. And I especially love how they LOOK at you after they outsmart you.

    Like to say, "Did you really think I was THAT stupid?"


  3. Clever canines keep us on our feet and running, don't they?!

  4. I have a doggy door and the Invisible fencing system. I adore both. Even the cat uses the door. But on muddy days I have to keep the main door shut, or my whole entore house would look like a mudpit.
    Good luck in getting those splinters out!

  5. I never have this problem with my fish, and if I did, it would only be once.