Super challenging testers
The first ready-to-use dog door that we ordered was intended for a Boxer. We installed it with the help of friends, followed by a BBQ. Acqui, the dog, was reluctant to come outside through the door, but we applied the “patience pays” strategy. Acqui’s strategy was more direct: when he had to relieve himself outside, he rammed at full speed through the door, catapulting it into the garden. It left all of us staring in bewilderment at what was now a wall with a meaningless hole in it.
This Acqui 1998 story marked the start of a 15-year search that eventually led to the creation of Tomsgate.be in 2013, the forerunner of what became Tomsgates in 2016. We had solved the problem, which is more than anyone else can say.
The search is the reward
The Acqui door was quickly replaced by a sturdy plastic flap, our first attempt at a pet door. The verdict: not attractive. The second design was a beautiful, robust wooden door. The verdict: too heavy. Attempt number three was a vertical flap door. And on and on it went…
… until we had two totally different dogs: a grey bulldozer (Mastino Napolitano, 90 kg) and a prancing princess (King Charles Cavalier, 7 kg). The two of them together really brought the problem to a head: the door had to be light enough for a small dog, yet it had to very robust to handle a tall dog; heavy enough to keep out draughts; Without ever jamming as this would get on the nerves of such a tall animal; low-tech because such a door is every day exposed to rough handling, e.g. when feeding time comes around.
In short, an intellectual challenge in terms of product design.
Product and user are one
The pet door concept is good because it’s simple. It is made of environmentally friendly FSC tropical hardwood and carefully glued by experienced workers at our workshop in Tienen. Dogs have an allergic reaction to aluminium and like to chew on plastic, so no aluminium and plastics are used.
The ingenuity of the design lies in the flap, on which we have taken an international patent: a flexible rubber flap with rigid slats. The result is a wind- and rainproof flap robust enough to survive tall powerful dogs and yet light enough to allow puppies and small dogs or cats to pass as they only need to push open the bottom slat and not the entire flap.
It is closed with magnets that are coated with rubber to avoid noise. There are no sophisticated intelligent one-way locks, because you cannot talk with your dog and it will never understand the concept and ram through the door, or worse still, get frustrated when the door does not open without it understanding why. A Tomsgates dog door is like a dog. An honest, dependable, straightforward, yet also gentle dog.
We have also paid special attention to the shut door: a 2 cm solid panel that is fastened with a steel lock for added robustness!
And now… the owner!
So, the dog is happy… but what about the owner? Here’s what Liliane H. has to say on YouTube: “This is the first dog door I’ve come across that is not unsightly.” Well, we actually think it’s a very beautiful pet door, but thanks anyway.
We finish all our pet doors with oil, which helps the wood remain sound and allows it gain in character over the years. These oils are available in all colours to blend in perfectly with the decor. White and grey are very popular, but have you ever considered a blue, red or black pet door? These colours are available as “custom work” for a small supplement, or you may order a “natural” door, i.e. a door in untreated wood, and finish it yourself as you wish. A great job for someone who enjoys working with a brush.
A hefty price tag… for the best buy
You can buy a plastic dog door or cat door for as little as a few dozen euros, or you can try to make one yourself, as is becoming more and more common. Most dog owners are either hands-on experts who know that plastic flaps require frequent repair and replacement, or they figure out that much in advance, become discouraged and never get started on it. Finally, there are those who find all these plastic flaps appalling, especially those plastic cat flaps installed in elegant stylish interior doors!
Tomsgates is by far the best buy because it gives you, the owner, peace of mind and makes your dogs and cats feel at ease.