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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Mystery of the Open Door

For the last several days, it seems like every time I've come home from work, I've had a door open that wasn't supposed to be open. Or perhaps a makeshift "baby gate" that has been tipped over by a very guilty-looking German Shepherd.

I'm used to her antics in trying to access some baby-gated areas and usually, no harm done so it's not a huge deal (as long as it's not the kitchen!).  Open doors, though, are a different matter entirely!

I had actually been attributing the recent open rooms to my own failure to properly close the doors, and again, neither the bedroom or bathroom had any damage or obvious disturbance, so I didn't worry. After all, my dog isn't a puppy anymore although she DOES on occasion get into things and make a mess simply because (GSD owners say it with me!) ...she's a GERMAN SHEPHERD!

Until last night, anyway, I'd been attributing open doors to my own failure to close them, and this is the cue that I need to give you a little back story.....

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, little new homeowner Adoro adopted a German Shepherd, age 1.5 years, from the local Humane Society. The paperwork and the staffer there told Adoro that her new pet was very very smart and had a long history of an uncanny ability to open doors she was not supposed to open.

Adoro learned this very quickly the first time she tried to kennel her dear GSD, only to come home 45 minutes later to find the kennel door ajar and the dog standing outside of it with a happy waggy tail and a big happy doggie grin. 

The next time Adoro left, she reinforced the kennel with flex ties at all points, even the door, thinking that as she would be gone for only about a half hour, this would be a good test of the new "security" system. 

When Adoro came home, the kennel was completely intact! Yay! The door was still closed and tightly tied shut!

Unfortunately, the German Shepherd was AGAIN outside of the kennel, staring at her, doggie-grinning and happy-wagging. 


Well, Adoro gave up on the kennel, at that point realizing that to continue might actually cause her dog to be strangled if she was trapped in an escape attempt and Adoro did not arrive home in time to stop the tragedy. So it was that she invested in a baby gate for the kitchen to prevent counter surfing (for some reason the dog did not desire to jump over the gate), and pseudo-gate the steps at the bottom to prevent the dog from going upstairs. 

Over the years this worked, until the German Shepherd did begin leaping the stair gate. In place of that, Adoro closed upstairs doors, especially after an incident in which her dog had injured herself during the day and cost Adoro hundreds in veterinary bills to prevent her dog from bleeding to death when the clotting factors were thrown off by the injury. 

That system worked very very well  unless Adoro forgot to close the door or simply didn't latch it properly.

And that's where the story continues to the nearly present day.

Keep in mind that the doorknobs in my house are the round sort that tend to need to be GRIPPED in order to turn and unlatch.

Well, I had begun to wonder about the open doors, wondering if in fact, there was a "mechanical" problem with the mechanism - was it not latching properly even though I had pulled and heard the "click"?

Then last night, I came  home to find that my bedroom door was open and a child-size scapular I bought at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 1994 was lying on the ground, the string in shreds and the miraculous medal lying neatly among the mess.

When I stopped to stare at it in confusion, my German Shepherd circled my feet, ears back, tail tucked with the tip wagging as she "apologized".

I picked up the pieces. None were wet so it happened hours ago. The string appeared to have broken through stress. There was no damage to the door or the knob. The dog was playing "guilty" all over the place, especially when I had the evidence in my hand.

Thankfully, only the string was damaged - the two main pieces seemed fine and perhaps can be used again.

You see, this scapular is one that maybe I had worn (I don't remember) but as it is so beautiful and comes from such a place, I put it on my doorknob as an act of devotion - both to preserve it and to remind myself of Our Lady's protection, her intercession, and of course, what it means to be devoted to Christ.

I guess my dog isn't really into sacramentals even though I've done my best to raise her as a Catholic and she seems to enjoy it when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours with her.

But still.- I couldn't figure out what the broken scapular had to do with the open door! And of course, WHY the scapular was broken!

Yesterday a storm had passed through, and as the years have gone on, I've noticed that my dog reacts more and strongly seeks my company when the thunder cracks. I wondered if perhaps she'd nudged the doorknob in hopes of finding me, or maybe to get as close to me (via my scent in my room) as possible during the storm, and the door just happened to be forced open at her insistence, the knob turned just enough.

Today changed that theory, but first a little more to the story: 

You see, a couple years ago my dog wandered into the upstairs bathroom one evening and apparently closed the door on herself. She didn't make a peep, but because she was often in my room staring out the window doing her GSD-thing, it wasn't uncommon for her not to be with me in the main part of the house.

Well, having not seen her for a few hours and wanting to feed her, I called and she did not come. I knew she was not outside (no fenced yard so she was never outside alone). I went upstairs, saw the door to my room closed and recalled doing that. But I knew she wasn't in my room because I'd ushered her out before closing the door. But why was the bathroom door closed?

I opened it and she exited somewhat sheepishly as I greeted her. I remember being confused; the doggie Houdini-extraordinaire hadn't made a peep up there and hadn't torn the door apart in an attempt to get out!

I thought that perhaps she'd forgotten about her door-opening skill after nudging the door closed during routine sniffing and decided to just wait it out. I was wrong. 

She just hadn't had the proper motivation at the time as she was quite content that evening, apparently, to lay down on the rug and take a nap until I'd opened the door.

Today when I came home, once again I found the bedroom door standing ajar and the dog acting guilty in her rush to pass me in hopes I wouldn't notice that, in fact, I didn't actually have to open the door myself.

I stopped, horrified, staring from the floor to the doorknob. Was my only other scapular from that shrine destroyed, too?

No, no...the ground was bare. I looked at the knob. No, there it hung, although it was a bit more tightly wound. I reached out to grasp the "tag" with the embroidered picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, feeling the gold threads under my fingers. I tugged gently...and saw the knob turn. The string was just taught enough to rub and pull the knob to the side, releasing the latch!

As the door opened, I rose my eyes to my dog, perched at the window, staring outward, ears forward and twitching according to the sounds reverberating against those huge radars. She stood at the window I always left slightly open in fair weather to let the fresh air waft in, and there she could percept, as well, all the sounds of the neighborhood including the dog the neighbors always allow to roam off leash all day long....

Mystery Solved!



* close window even while gone
* remove scapular from door and leave nothing to act as "doggie pull-chain"
* more interesting toys if actually affordable?  (donations accepted!)
* get a different breed  NEVER! GET BEHIND ME SATAN!  German Shepherds are as close as a canine can get to being human - must continue to nurture in accordance with St. Thomas Aquinas's hierarchy of Creation as this is clearly an animal present with Adam in the Garden! Must learn to be more like the dog whose thought process is very logical!

OK then!


Pablo the Mexican said...

This happened in my hotel room in Mexico City last year, December.

I had the hotel check the door three times, no problem.

But the door kept unlocking itself, and opening sligltly.

Even with the chain on.

I sprinkled Holy Water on the door and said the three Hail Marys for the soul that needed prayer and was asking for the prayers in this manner.

The door remained closed, and I hope that soul is doing well now.

It is better to pray and be wrong than to not pray and have our Lord become perturbed with us.

Place a small Saint Benedict medal on your dog's collar and ask Saint Benedict to protect him.

German sheppards are not sissies.

He was probably frightened for himself, but he will defend you to the death.

Guilty whimpering might be instead relief that you are back after he saw something really frightful.

Good people are the targets of evil.

May God bless you and protect you.

Keep your guard up.

You can get blessed medals and crucifixes at:


Adoro said...

SMCTOD ~ Oh, believe me, I know GSD's are not sissies! But I've had my girl for a long time now, and I know her "apologetic" behavior because training has taught her what she can and cannot do. What I described here was her way of recognizing she'd done something wrong. Besides...she was not wimpering (she does not wimper).

Further, I'd been home for long enough by then, had taken her out, fed her - we were long past the "greeting" routine by the time I discovered the door ajar.

Some things do, in fact, have rational, tangible, scientific causes. Such as: German Shepherds are very loyal and social animals. I have been working long hours. They also "feel" things, as canines, when the pressure changes with an oncoming storm. Over the years I can tell she feels that change more and seeks me for comfort. Well...I've been working long hours and she probably was looking for me for company and where is the majority of my DNA? In my bedroom - and that scent would give her comfort.

It's also the high point of my tiny house where she can look out the window and be the guard dog that she is! LOL

Incidentally I have blessed Benedict medals, Miraculous medals, etc., all over the house, along with many other sacramentals.

Not all things have a spiritual cause; some are quite practical and in this case, it wasn't a Holy Soul, but my dog being a German Shepherd.

Which is why I love GSD's so much. :-)