A doorway to your dog's independence

We moved recently, from an apartment to a house with a large yard. As if that weren’t enough to spoil our three dogs, the new house has a dog door. This is revolutionary to our dogs, and to us as well. No more midnight treks down three flights of stairs. No more standing out in the rain waiting for them to finish their business.

The door requires a magnet to open it, and each dog has a “key” — a large magnet hanging from his or her collar. Each of our dogs has adjusted to this momentous change in a different way, entirely reflective of their very different personalities:

Wylie, the German shepherd, sees his ability to open the door as a triumph of will. Mind over matter. He was the first to figure out that he could open the door himself. He walks up to the door and fixes an intent stare, as only a German shepherd can, on the door. Sure enough, the door opens. Wylie spent the first few days we lived here going in and out, in and out, just because he could.

Oriel, an older golden retriever, ambles up to the door and reacts with delighted surprise when the magical portal opens, offering her access to her new backyard. Often, once she gets outside, she seems to wonder what she’s doing there. She turns around and comes back. Other times, she just stands and looks at the door as it opens, waits, closes … then opens again.