Canine Conundrum

A guest dog searches for a way out.

“C’mon, Copper. Wanna go outside?” I asked the shaggy brown dog standing at our front door. She’d been standing there for a while — silently, patiently waiting for someone with opposable thumbs to notice and open the door for her.

This isn’t Copper’s usual house; we’ve been dogsitting for a friend. Copper and our dog Coltrane have gotten along great for years, and big, lovable old Copper is great with our kids, too. But she still hasn’t quite gotten used to our routines.

For days after we started watching Copper regularly, she kept having “accidents” on our wall-to-wall carpet. My wife Stacey couldn’t figure it out — we knew Copper had been housetrained for years and was always polite about asking to go out. Then Stacey noticed that Copper spent a lot of time sitting in front of our corner cabinet, apparently staring at our china and crystal. And Stacey suddenly realized our big mahogany piece of furniture looks quite a bit like the front door at Copper’s house.

All this time, Copper had been waiting for us to open the cabinet door so she could do her business.

By tonight, she had clearly figured out which door actually led to the outside. But the problem was that we always send the dogs out to our back yard to do their thing. At the mention of “outside,” Coltrane leaped up and followed me out back.

Copper remained seated by the front door. Rather than deigning to use our back door, she eventually plopped down on the floor by our coffee table.

Sheez — first they won’t open the cabinet, and then it’s the front door, she seemed to be thinking. What’s it gonna take to get these people trained?

Article © 2009 by Michael Duck