Emmett Eats ShamusAccustomed to the freedom of a dog door, a luxury lost when our kittens moved in, the hound and Newf haven’t taken kindly to asking for yard privileges. Much prefering the self-serve option, they have taken matters into their own hands.

It began innocently enough. Emmett, our crafty hound, learned to open the screen from the sun porch to the dog yard. Teaching this trick to the Newf, each would let the other out for a playful romp.

As a result, we are now in lock down: all screens latched, windows barely cracked, and all doors leading to the “land of no return” are barricaded with a highly trained ottoman.


Emmett at the Scratched ScreenAside from being crafty, Emmett is extremely agile. He jumps 5 feet skyward, bouncing like Tigger when he wants in. (Nobody breathe a word that just a hint of forward trajectory will take him over the outer perimeter.) A time or two, Emmett bounced too close to the door and caught a foot in the screen.

Accidental at first, Emmett soon learned to work the resulting slice into a large hole with his nose. This was clearly an attempt to go AWOL but Emmett never had the chance.

I discovered the hole the day I witnessed an orange flash across the lawn through the window. It wasn’t the dogs playing with the ball. Our cat had made the great escape. Thanks to the cat’s discovery, and my discovery of the cat, Emmett’s quest for freedom was foiled once more.


Newf PrintsWe ramped up security by replacing the screen door with one of the other 4, setting aside the damaged one for repair. Soon holes appeared in the replacement too, but these were different. An investigation was in order.

The print to the right  is crisp, not sliced, and is located at the 4 foot level. Clearly not the result of a high velocity swipe, this does not fit Emmett’s MO: the 5 foot leap. Well defined puncture marks reveal a much larger paw than that of our original suspect. The dog responsible for this property damage didn’t have to reach far to leave a trace.

While Emmett is guilty of his own crimes, to be sure, we have another culprit at work here. This one, as it turns out, is equally crafty. Using his intellectual prowess, he measures public perception, appears deceptively aloof while making calculations, and avoids detection by blaming the other guy … until now.


As with all captured criminals, they become careless at some point. This one let his guard down under the influence of a nap. The evidence doesn’t lie. Case closed.

Newf Printed


Renovations will be underway shortly to replace the standard aluminum door screens with high security, vinyl-coated polyester. Studies show that this type of reinforcement has been successful in other holding cells. At the very least, when the dogs try to bust the door down,  it can be reinstalled without additional cost to the facility.