It’s an Open and Shut Case

“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.” Ogden Nash, the humorist who penned these words, was obviously well acquainted with the canine mind. It definitely applies to some of my gang.

Brett is decidedly the worst of the bunch. Not that it takes him so long to make his decision but it takes him forever to act on it. There he stands, half in and half out of the open door, checking on the temperature, humidity, wind velocity and any new odors that have wafted about before taking the first definitive step. Meanwhile, an assortment of flies, a squadron of mosquitoes, a platoon of spiders and the occasional inquisitive little lizard have scooted inside. To be fair about it, Brett, at fourteen, is the senior citizen of my crew and his eyesight has taken a leave of absence, so I can’’t really blame him for being cautious lest he tumble down the steps.

Next on the list is Glynnis, technically a senior citizen at eleven, but too ornery to show her age. She’’s an independent, individualistic, non-conformist with a mind of her own.

Unlike Brett who is hesitant about going out, Glynnis likes to be difficult when it involves coming inside. She’’ll bark to come in, then sit at the foot of the steps and stare at me when I open the door for her. “Well, do you want to come in?” She doesn’’t move. If I close the door, she’’ll bark again to come in. And when I open the door, I’’ll get that ‘Are you talking to me?’ look but no move to traverse the doorway. Occasionally she’’ll take a step or two and then sit. She treats it as a truly monumental decision. But I think she’’s just playing games. If I really want her to come into the house, I’’ll eventually resort to offering her a piece of liver. That will usually do the trick. I suspect she’’s got my number. Of course if there’’s a thunder storm rumbling in the distance, she’’ll be leaning against the front door, barking. No games then. Trying to maintain her cool, she trots back to my bedroom and takes up residence in my closet till the storm passes by.

Now that I think of it, it’’s ten-year-old Ori who is really the personification (canineification?) of Mr. Nash’’s observation. Let the front door be opened for even the least little bit and, with a swish of her tail and a swing of her substantial rump, she pushes her way outside. But only for a few moments. Then she’’s barking to come back in. And does she settle down after coming in? You’’ve got to be kidding! In actual fact, she’’s got one eye on the door just in case it’’s opened again so she can dash back out. And then bark to come back in. And then wait for the chance to slip back out.

The aforementioned trio are my oldest Beardies and I can’’t help wondering if this indoor/outdoor indecision might be a side effect of old age. I’’ll have to give it some thought but right now I have to go open the door for Ori who’’s insistently barking to come inside.

— Alice Bixler, Bearded Collie Club of America,