My Leash on Life, available at Amazon.com
At our old house one night Ellie opened the door to the garage and it came off, almost knocking her down. She leaned the door against the wall and went to the phone. Her hand and voice were shaking as she talked. Our friend Roy came right over and fixed the door. That’s the kind of guy he is.
What I like the most about Roy is his dog, Blue. Blue is tall and dark, has short hair, floppy ears, and his eyes don’t match. One is light and one is dark–it gives him a wild and crazy look–and he is pretty wild and crazy. While Roy spends an afternoon in our yard sawing away at some wood or hammering nails, Blue runs in circles in the yard, whines, and wants to play with me. Usually Ellie keeps me in the house and Blue stays outside, so we just look at each other through the glass door.
Roy built the deck I like to get under and he has put in some windows and the glass doors on the back of our house. One day he came by on a motorcycle, without Blue, and he came in for a visit.
“I’ve been looking online,” Ellie said. “We’ve just had too many accidents now that he’s on diuretics.”
“Yeah,” he answered. “Be sure to get something sturdy. No plastic. Are you sure he’ll be able to learn to use it?” He chuckled when he said that. Roy was always chuckling at something. They were standing by the back door and then Roy got down on his knees, held up some metal tape under the window and scribbled notes on a pad of paper. There was smiling and hugging and then he was off.
The next time I saw Roy he had his saw and a big hammer (no Blue). I took cover under the bed when he started pounding. When it got quiet again I came out and found a hole under the window. Ellie brought in a big box from the garage and she and Roy worked together to remove what was inside. Roy worked at it all day, but when he left, the hole had been covered by some thick, stinky rubber.
None of this was really of interest to me–Where’s Blue? But then Ellie called me and she was crouched by that new thing in the wall. She had some little tiny treats, so I went over to her. She picked up some treats and pushed the rubbery flap open with her fingers, dropping the treats inside. It snapped closed with a metallic click.
“Come on, Foxy, come and get the treats. Yum, yum!” She coaxed me. I was definitely hungry for something that smelled like peanut butter. I sniffed around the edge, but there was no way I was going to push the flap with my nose. Her finger pushed it open a crack and I could smell the treats. She held it open and I snagged one and backed off. We played this game over and over. Soon enough I was pushing the rubber open just enough to lap up the treats with my tongue. I had no idea what this was about, but I was enjoying myself.
Then Ellie took a handful of treats and went outside, shutting the glass door in my eager face. She crouched on the other side of the rubber flap and held up a treat.
Huh? Well, I’d get the treat if you’d let me out there! Very confused, I went to the other room to scratch myself. Later on, Ellie called me back to the hole in the wall. She got down on her hands and knees and put her head into the opening!
“See Foxy, your head goes in here, then you can walk through.” I just looked at her in bewilderment. Groaning from the effort, she got up, grabbed the treats and went outside, once again leaving me alone. Then she pulled the flap from the outside and put some treats on the tiny floor on the inside of the wall. I lapped them up, as usual. Now she was holding the flap way up on her side and there was a treat in her other hand, right in front of my nose, but on the outside. I moved towards it. She backed up.
“Come on Foxy, you can do it!” I could see sweat on her face. She kept repeating, “Come on, come on!”
I lunged for the treat and found myself out on the deck. My back tickled where the heavy door had slid over it. Ellie beamed.
“Good boy! You did it! Good job!”
I was looking for more treats. She took me back in the house and repeated what we had just done–going out on the deck, putting treats on the floor, and holding one up on the outside. We practiced this for a few days and then Ellie put me outside and held up a treat on the inside. No problem! I went right in after it.
The next morning I did a good stretch and was ready for my morning outing, but Ellie was still putting on her shoes. I looked at that door. There were no treats, but it led to the backyard, so I went out and relieved myself on the grass. When I came back in through my door, Ellie was standing there filled with a joyful energy.
“You did it, Foxy! No more puddles on the floor. Good boy.”
It didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time.
The next time Roy and Blue came to visit, Blue looked at me from the deck and I looked back from the house. He sniffed around my door and nosed the flap. He can’t get in! The opening was just too small for his big body. I wagged my tail and went out to greet him.
Now that I’ve had my door for a while, I’ve discovered many uses beyond a quick trot to the grass. I go out to growl when I see a big cat on the fence. Or when Ellie is banging pots and pans. Or when the vaccuum cleaner is buzzing all over the house. Or sometimes, just to see what I can see.