Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I REMEMBER…Rottweiler’s and the rolling gate.

In the late 1990’s I was in charge of a major truck-trailer rental company.  My territory was Northern California and Northern Nevada.  I travelled a lot and often got home way after dark.  I travelled from Vallejo to Redding and over to Tahoe, Carson City and Reno.  

There were seventeen stores and about one-hundred independent dealers in that geographic area. The challenge was to keep the inventory of trailers and trucks at the location most likely to have customers that wanted to rent them.  The reality was that the trucks they needed in Sacramento were often sitting on the lot in Redding or Reno, etc.  We often had to make these ‘runs’ to pick up needed rental equipment and transport them to the new location before the weekend when demand was the highest.

There were several of my staff members with me on one such run and we arrived back in Sacramento late on a Friday night.  It was a successful foray and we brought back the equipment needed.  We pulled up to the rental center, opened the rolling gates, pulled the equipment in and parked them all in a neat row.  

Everybody, but my assistant and I had headed home in the personal vehicles they left parked outside the gate.  Our team was very efficient, as we had done this procedure many times.  In and out….done…head home.
The last two of us were walking back towards the open gate when we heard the strangest sound.  It was a very rapid clicking sound, accompanied by low growls.  I was tired.  It had been a long day.  Finally my brain cells kicked in.  Because we had been experiencing vandalism at this particular location, I had asked for the office staff to arrange for a security guard dog service.  I thought I had made it clear that the service was to start tomorrow, as we were bringing trucks in tonight. 

All I could hear was click, click, click, growl getting closer, as their nails scraped across the pavement, trying to get a good grip to pick up speed.   As our feet picked up speed, I came to the sinking conclusion that the dog service had started a day early.  A tried a quick glance over my shoulder, which, if you are not that girl in the Exorcist, was very hard to do at a full run.  It was dark, but not so much that I missed two very large Rottweilers coming, full bore, right at us.

We were at far more than a full run now and salvation (the open gate) lay 20 yards ahead of us.  They were gaining on us, but Lord Be With Us, we made it to the gate first.  We grabbed the long rolling gate and pushed it along with all our might to get it closed before the dogs got us.  We pushed until it stopped.  

I had a big sense of relief as, a second later,  the dogs hit that fence at full tilt.  I didn’t get much of a chance to savor the victory of Man vs. Guard Dog, as I realized (a second before the dogs also realized it) that this was a twenty foot opening gate with two rolling ten foot sections.  We had only closed one half of the gate.

My friend had already made it to the truck.  I thought for about a half of a nano-second that I could run past the 10 foot open area to the other half of the gate and, by myself, roll it closed and lock the security chain before the dogs dashed through.  Like a defensive feint in football or basketball, facing my two growling opponents through the chain link, as soon as I shifted my weight to my left foot to make the dash, these highly intelligent canines realized there was a ten foot chasm available to them as well.

After about two steps to the left I became aware that the dogs had already covered twice the distance and were rounding the half-closed gate and coming my way.  Much like an inspired Olympic sprinter-high jumper, I crossed the distance between me and the waiting truck and leaped into the back of the pick-up truck, just as the dogs were on my heel.

My companion, safe inside the cab with the windows rolled up, and I, on top of the cab, inched slowly along the opening, with me pulling the gate along until we finally had it closed, chained and locked.

By now, the dogs had mysteriously disappeared into the night.  Fortunately I had my cell phone in the truck.  Now relegated to the museum of early portable phones (the phone was attached to a phone cord with a giant battery pack in a canvas bag, much like the type you see the ‘Radio guy” using in old war movies) it was still  a convenient was to make a call under dire circumstances.  

I called the dog protection services and left a message that his guard dogs had managed to escape and to come find them.  All future truck runs left the vehicles on the street until daylight.


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