One week in, and Angus still cannot get the hang of our new back-porch doggy door. Which is odd, frankly, since he had no trouble coming and going through the opening when it was covered by ripped screen. Now that we’ve installed an actual dog door in the space, he’s stymied.

Not Rosie. She dashes in and out with no hesitation. Actually, she might be part of Angus’ problem. The first time she went through the new flap — which is not transparent, but translucent, and certainly heavier than screen — Angus was two steps behind her. She pushed through the flap and it swung back and bonked Angus on the snout.

It’s not heavy enough to hurt him, but it was heavy enough to stop him in his tracks.

He hasn’t had anything to do with the doggy door since.

Well, that’s not exactly true: He’ll go through it if I hold the flap open for him. Which kind of defeats the purpose of having a doggy door at all.

We never meant to have a doggy door there, in the bottom quarter of our porch screen door. But a few years ago Greta, one of the two ebullient Brittanies who lived next door, blasted through it, pulling the screen out at the bottom but leaving it secure at the top. Greta was small but mighty, completely fearless, and she loved racing onto our porch. A closed screen door was no deterrent. Bam! Instant dog door.

At first we tried stapling the screen back into place, but Greta returned. Pretty soon Angus and Rosie got in the habit of pushing through, and we gave up trying to fix it. Plus, we discovered, it was convenient. Doug and I could lounge on the porch sipping our morning coffee, and the dogs could come and go. If we wanted to keep them on the porch, we just propped up a baby gate as a barricade.

But this spring, it was time to spruce things up. We had the porch rescreened, we shored up a sinking bottom step, and we replaced the torn panel with an actual doggy door.

And Angus has been miserable ever since. Rosie zips through the flap out into the yard, and he watches her go, but he makes no attempt to follow. He stands on the porch and stares out at paradise, so close and yet so far away.

And then I take pity on him and lift the flap, and out he goes.

I’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to train a dog to use a doggy door, but they aren’t terribly helpful. For one thing, the dogs in the videos get the hang of it in exactly the amount of time it takes to watch the video — about four to six minutes. Angus doesn’t learn anything that fast. (Except where the treats are kept. He learned that right away.)

So for now I’m trying this: I wait until Rosie is not around. I hold the flap open for Angus. I toss some treats through the opening. And each time he goes through, I give him a snack and then lower the flap a tiny bit and have him come through again.

Hopefully, he’ll get it, eventually. Maybe not when Rosie is around to activate the flap into snout-bopping mode, but maybe when Angus is alone.

In the meantime, I’ve become his private doorman: You want to go out, sir? Allow me. And I set down my coffee cup, get out of my comfy chair, walk across the porch, and lift the flap. And Angus races out into the yard, and is happy.


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