Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dogs Versus Alligators


DOGS -03

Florida has sunny skies, beaches, and women in thongs. But it also has alligators. Our townhouse in Pembroke Pines was on a no name lake about 8 miles from Hollywood beach and two miles as a gator swims in from the Everglades from the west.

We had three dogs in a townhouse with a Florida patio screen room, and practically no yard. The only thing between the dogs and the deceptively tranquil and beautiful alligator infested waters was a metal framed screened wall. One of the dogs was a husky cross that would tackle any adversary. The other two dogs were Pomeranians weighing one and three pounds. Obviously, tasty hors d'oeuvres morsels for the swampy critters. The dogs liked to sun themselves on the patio, so we needed something to keep them from running through the screen into a waiting gator's lunch pail.

To complicate matters, the townhouse association had strict rules on modifications to the property. Not being one for the rules, I needed an invisible barrier. I decided to paint hardware cloth flat black to match the screen, and then screw it to the screen's frame. It would be practically invisible. I used 1/2 inch square hardware cloth on this and 3/4 inch screws through washers to secure the hardware cloth as I stretched it tight over the frame. This probably wouldn't stop a gator from coming into the patio through the screen, but it would keep the dogs in. Maybe a gator wouldn't like to bump his nose against it.

While I was doing this, my wife decided that we needed planter boxes so we could grow tomatoes almost year round. As long as I had the tools out, I went to the Home Depot and bought six inch fence boards to make the boxes. I waterproofed them, painted the backs of them flat black and hung them on the horizontal frames of the screen wall. None of the condo commandos on the board ever noticed.

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