For a long time, Harry couldn't go in our basement because he didn't have the necessary clearance. It wasn't security clearance he lacked, though, it was ground clearance.
See, when you're long of body and short of limb, going up and down long flights of stairs is likely not going to be your strength. Harry can manage the four steps from our back door up to the kitchen, but that's about it. Down is actually worse than up, because he gains speed as he goes. If he were foolish enough to try it, by the time he got to the bottom of the ten steps to our basement, he'd be going fast enough to make a Corgi shaped hole in the paneling.
The house we all live in is a one-storey affair, with the finished basement accounting for half of its usable square footage. Because Harry couldn't go in the basement, though, we didn't use it much, and that seriously cut down on our living space.
So, I got to thinking. While thinking often leads to no good, in this case it led to a plan. It was a grand plan, a plan of impressive proportions, a plan considered so preposterous it just might work.
"Why not build a ramp?" I said one day, to no-one in particular. Harry heard me, I think, because he hears everything. The Missus may have heard me, but probably just figured I was rambling again, and, really who can blame her? History supports her supposition, But no, in this case, I was serious - dead serious.
Anyway, a year or so passed.
Eventually, I drew up some plans. They were fine plans, I must say. They considered everything, from available space, to the cost of materials, to the all-important aspects of Corgi physiology and psychology.
More time passed, although probably less than a year this time.
I told some people of my plans and they scoffed. They said I was crazy. They said it couldn't be done. They said it shouldn't be done. In the midst of their scoffing, however, they goaded me on, as people will tend to do when they hear someone proposing a preposterous plan which will require no effort on their part and will quite possibly provide some mean-spirited entertainment at the planner's expense.
The Missus didn't scoff however. She believed in me. She believed in my plan. More importantly, she was willing to do half the work.
So, one fine day, I set off for the local lumberyard, and came back bearing two-by-fours. I don't know what sort of unit you use to describe a large number of two-by-fours, but there was a whack of them, possibly even a metric whack.
While, as you may have predicted, some more time passed, but it was only a few short weeks before we leapt into action. Projects of this size tend to see a lot of delays, but jeez, we're not the government.
The Missus and I, working as a team, tore up the carefully made plans that I'd made so many months before. Then we argued furiously before realizing we were both trying to explain exactly the same thing to the other. Funny how that goes, isn't it? Okay, maybe not.
So we knew what the ramp would look like, or at least we thought we did, so we started cutting our two-by-fours to lengths we imagined would fit well together. The cutting was made faster, but considerably scarier by our possession of a device known as a Skilsaw.
A Skilsaw is a hand-held rotary saw with teeth even bigger than Harry's. In my hands, a Skilsaw is not only inappropriately named, it's also more than a little dangerous. A Skilsaw can go through a two-by-four, or similar material in a matter of seconds. Let your imagination run wild with the implications of that for a while. I know I did.
Over the course of several days, there was a lot of measuring, sawing, measuring, cursing, swearing, and more sawing. Then there was some drilling, followed by the driving of a lot of screws. Nearly a week passed, but in the end, we came through it with our marriage and our limbs intact.
We had created a formidable structure. It was reminiscent of The Bridge on the River Kwai, although I think that bridge got blown up so I won't take the comparison too far.
It was a two-foot-wide, multi-sectioned design. It started with a landing at the top, then progressed to a six-foot-long slope with a precise angle of 25 degrees, more or less, to a landing at the halfway point. Then there was a 90-degree turn and another six-foot section of ramp. It had railings along its full length for safety.
The ramp was composed of over 250 board-feet of two-by-fours, held together by close to 300 three-and-a-half-inch Roberston screws. It was covered with 32 square feet of plywood, and an equal amount of carpet remnants. It is, without a doubt, the most solidly constructed aspect of our house. If there's ever a tornado warning, you'll find me hiding under the ramp.
With great pride, we christened our creation The Corgi Skyway.
The hard part, or at least another hard part, was still to come, however. It's one thing to build a Corgi Skyway, but it's quite another to convince the Corgi to actually use it.
Harry is a skeptical dog. He is not easily convinced of the propriety of adopting new ideas and customs, and probably the surest way to guarantee that he'll reject your grand scheme is try too hard to sell him on it.
Rather than go into a big detailed explanation of how we convinced Harry to use the Skyway, suffice it to say that it wasn't easy. Over the course of three days, he probably gained four pounds from all the treats he ate. In the end, though, Harry became a regular commuter on the Corgi Skyway.
I would go as far as to say that the project was a success and the story has a happy ending.
We still don't use the basement that much, but no plan is perfect.