Our electronic dog door continues to be a wonderful window on the dogs’ personalities. The dog door is operated (ostensibly) by a magnet attached to each dog’s collar. The idea is that only animals with magnets can open the door, keeping out neighbor cats, possum, raccoons and the like.
Well, in one of Florida’s daily summer thunderstorms, the door suffered damage. The motor would hum but the door would not open. We summoned our electrician, ordered a part, summoned the electrician again, and, after a few dog-doorless weeks, were back in business. With a twist.
The door started opening and closing all on its own. We joked that not only had we acquired a resident ghost, but the ghost somehow had been given its own key and had learned to use the dog door. As I sit at my desk, not a dog in sight, the door will occasionally open and close. Then do it again a few minutes later. The ghost going out for a potty break and returning? Or the ghost entering for a brief reconnaissance and leaving? Hard to tell, since I can’t actually see the ghost.
Meanwhile, Cali, who learned to use the dog door in just seconds flat, has lost key privileges. She, it turns out, wants to spend all of her time outside chasing lizards. And occasionally catching them, with gruesome results for the lizard and anyone watching. She has recently taken up stalking those huge, bright yellow Florida grasshoppers that are apparently quite tasty. Her other hobby is digging small ditches all over the backyard. Some dogs, it seems, are too immature to handle the freedom a dog door brings. Unable to convince her to take up knitting, gnawing chew toys, or even sunbathing (with sunscreen!), I took her key away.
With no key, Cali has to ask permission to go out, and she now has supervised playtime. She hates that. She has figured out that she can sometimes follow her big sister Jana out. Occasionally, I think when Cali is being particularly, er, adolescent, I have seen Jana walk with her over to the door. Door opens; Cali runs out; big sis walks away with, I swear, a big smile on her face.
The next step was probably inevitable: Cali discovered the ghost. And decided to train it. She could get the ghost to let her out! Who needs a key when you have a trained ghost?
Now, when Cali wants to go out, she sits, patiently staring at the dog door. Eventually, usually within a couple of minutes, the ghost does, indeed, let her out.
Cali has had less success at training the ghost (or her big sisters) to let her back in, however. When she gives up on the ghost, she’ll sit, looking sadly at the back door and occasionally jumping on the glass, until I let her in. Twice I have come home from errands to find her outside, stretched out in the shade, waiting patiently.
I haven’t seen her sitting by the dog door on the outside, waiting for the ghost. But she has gotten back in without my help on occasion. So maybe the ghost training is going better than I think.
Sometimes, when Jana or Albee opens the door to go out, Cali seizes the moment and slips in very quickly. Jana isn’t quite as agile as she used to be, and the door only stays open for about 5 seconds. So when Cali does this, Jana is left inside. As Cali enters and the door closes, Jana gets a perplexed look. I am sure that, as she waits for the door to open again, she’s wondering why she wasn’t lucky enough to be an only dog.