Berners are the type of dog that want to be with you – – – always. Where you goeth, they goeth. If you step outside, they want to be outside with you. If you need to run to the store, they need to go along with you, riding shotgun in the passenger seat. They will be out the door and in the car before you’ve begun to search for your car keys. If you need to use the restroom, they want to follow you. Walk into the kitchen and paws pitter-patter beside you. Two perpetual furry shadows, dogging your step. Shutting the door on their noses only produces sniffing and scratching, amplified by two.
On occasion we elect to keep the girls home. In the summer, the temperatures are too hot for them to be left in the car without air conditioning and other times, our errands run longer than we want to keep them cooped up in the SUV. They’ve learned when they may join us for a car ride and when they are staying put, depending on the time of day, the clothes and shoes worn, and if they hear a certain jingle of the car keys.
Early mornings they recognize its “me leaving for work” time. They follow me into the bathroom and hang while I am getting ready for work. They walk with me to get the morning paper and follow me around as I pour my “must-have” coffee. By the time I grab my car keys to drive into town for work, they are already sprawled out napping from their busy morning. I scratch their ears good-bye as they lift their heads, watching me walk out the door, back asleep before I’ve pulled out of the garage. They have become skilled at learning the difference between a “slide your foot into a heel” shoe and a “bend over to tie the laces of your hiking boot” shoe. With the heel, they are accepting of their fate. Knowing they will be staying home with Gordita, our cat, they have already gone back to what they were doing. The boot means “WALK”, “RIDE”, or “BOTH”. Any of which creates pandemonium. A jingle of the car keys will bring a concerto of joyous high-pitched barking that continues through the process of loading them into the vehicle.
To our dismay, we have discovered there are times when Dolce and Amore have attempted to follow us, ignoring our command to stay. On one such time, I drove home from work to find Dolce and Amore in the front portal, the front door wide open. I just assumed Malcolm had opened the door for fresh air. In reality, Malcolm had walked next door to deliver some misplaced mail. The girls did not like the idea of being left alone at home, listening to the crunch of gravel as Malcolm walked up the driveway. Dolce had pawed the dead bolt, unlocking it, and on the down-swing, her paws hit the handicapped handle, swinging the door wide open. Freedom. Thankfully, the half-walls of the portal are too high for them to escape.
Dolce has turned her clever door-opening talent to other doors throughout the house. Back doors, garage doors, closet doors, even shower doors, she opens and shuts doors like a cat-burglar pro. She stands on her hind legs and uses her front paws to turn the lock. She then uses her weight to push in the door, gaining entry into the next room. Should the door shut on her, she repeats the process, and with a descending slide, she hooks her paws on the handle lever and pulls open the door to come back through. We caution our over-night guests to lock their bedroom door or they might have a four-legged visitor during the night. Her special ability has forced us take stronger measures against future door openings. We’ve installed additional hardware, slide locks and hooks, key locks and more dead-bolts, all designed to keep our Houdini dog where she belongs.
I am thankful this proficiency isn’t genetic and Amore isn’t that smart! But then, maybe she is – Dolce is the one opening the door for her.