Gates of Hell

Negotiating the !&*%$#@ gate into the bedroom. Aaaaarrrrrgggggh!

What most agonizes us are not Big Failures but niggling inconveniences that pile up.

I can live without understanding how America elected Donald Trump. But give me a box of cereal whose cellophane bag won’t open at the ministrations of two strong sets of fingers, or a soggy display carton at my job that won’t tear loose along the perforations, and I’m ready to scream.

Dog gates are my main hell.

Barb decrees we must keep the dog nearby, but segregated. Hence, gates at every portal, blocking access and egress – human as well as canine.

This is not a dog that languishes all day in a crate in a remote room, some benign imprisonment from which we might release her at times to walk or eat. She must have more freedom. The crate is there, but never locked; she may go in there if she likes for that nice den feel.

I have learned giving a dog too much freedom is mistake number one in dog training. So what to do?

Barb set up collapsible gates all about the house to keep the dog from wandering into rooms we want her out of. Doors must stay open, per Barb.

Thus, Barb and I sleep with our bedroom door open. Should Rosa need to pee or shit in the middle of the night, she pokes her long muzzle over the gate and whimpers. If it’s my turn, I get into flip-flops or slippers to step over or pull aside the gate, then leash her and lead her blearily outside, into “her going area,” a sloping lot mined with root hooks, tufts, and toe-jamming rocks. Sometimes it’s a sham; the dog heard or sensed some animal out there and that’s why she woke me up. She damn near tears my arm off straining and barking at three in the morning to get free and tangle with coyotes, javelinas, or mule deer. But mostly she does have to go, and then I shuffle back into the house with her, unleash her, and – after getting past that gate — try to go back to sleep. If I can.

When Barb turned the house into an obstacle course, I tried to step over the gates but knocked them down with the shin or big toe of the second leg, the bent leg across the hurdle.

“Just reach down and lift it out of the way,” Barb said.

I find this annoying, though I do it at times. I’m more top heavy; she’s shorter, it’s easier for her.

Barb put a gate up at my office door, my sanctum. This door I must never close now. Barb says it has as much to do with house ventilation as giving Rosa the feeling of not being left out.

“But she eats snot rags!”

“That’s why the gate.”

Don’t ask; you can’t win.

Yes, the dog will fish used facial tissues from this allergy sufferer’s wastebasket and eat them. Sometimes you wonder how you can love your dog. I’ve seen Rosa take a gourmet’s interest in drying mounds of equine foeces along hiking trails that double as bridle paths.

Allow me to proffer an instructive scenario that dramatizes my objection to this gate thing.

“Bob, will you get my purse! It’s in the bedroom.”

Barb’s in the guest room, currently doubling as her office. I’m next door, in my man-cave of an office, web surfing or writing.

Her purse is thirty feet from where I sit. It becomes twice that because of gates.

I get up, step over the gate at my office door (it’s a not very tall one) and walk down the little hall, yearning to slant right for the beeline to the bedroom, but the crate blocks that. So I continue straight up into the living room and bend around in a loose right hairpin through the dining room and into the kitchen. Here, I may have to lift aside a big gate we use to block her off when there’s food to filch. I slant up left into “her area,” shift left again, and, at the threshold of the bedroom, either lift a foot up to clear that gate or reach down and lift aside the gate, replacing it behind me as I enter the bedroom to get the purse, lest the dog, if she’s following me around, run in. There’s a wastebasket in the master bathroom too.

I must deal with all these gates in reverse on the way back to the guest bedroom, where Barb waits. And, to get to her, I have to get past the gate that now spans that entrance, unless, out of kindness, and not wanting to hear me bitch, she gets off the little chair behind the kneehole desk and her Mac, and takes the purse from me over the gate.

“How come we don’t just close doors?” I plead.

“That’s mean. I don’t like the tone that sets. She should feel the house is her house.”

“It damn sure is! I’m living in a fucking torture chamber! It’s so frustrating getting around! At least a door, you got a knob, you –”

“You need to work on your anger.”

Sometimes when Barb’s not in the house and I’m full of anxiety, tension, and impatience, and I need to go get something across the house, I’ll stub my toe on a gate and find myself flinging it aside with violence. I’ll even let loose a karate yell, fists clenched, emptying all the air out of my lungs and abdomen.

I guess I need to work on my anger.

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