Last year, you might remember, we gained a new member of the family.
Of course I am referring to Bridie, who came, as usual, from our friend Angela at Wicani Collies.
All of the dogs we have had, all have their own personalities, and Bridie is no exception. She is a large and energetic dog who likes to keep on the move, but can be surprisingly nervous about the oddest of things.She will turn over in her sleep, knock against something waking herself up and vanishes in a crash of flailing limbs. She appears to be able to go from a standing start to light speed in less than a second, so you have to be ready for her to bolt if there is an unknown squeak, creak or snap. Having an open fire, this leads to some energetic evenings, with Bridie in and out of the room sometimes every few seconds.
She is both intelligent and stubborn. If she has decided she will not do something, or doesn't like something, she is difficult to persuade otherwise.
And now we come to the dog flap.
Many years ago we had a cat and a Yorkshire Terrier. They both learnt to use the cat flap and popped in and out happily.
Then we gained out first rough collie puppy, who also quickly learnt to use the cat flap. As we realised she was going to end up a lot larger than both the cat and the Yorkie and could possibly end up stuck in the cat flap, we bought and installed a larger dog flap.
The dog flap has proved popular with every dog we have had since.
Bridie prefers to have the door opened for her and is quite prepared to wait hours until one of us gives in and does it.
We have shown her the dog flap. She has seen China trundling happily in and out through the dog flap. She has even been 'helped' through the dog flap. But she really does not want to use it.
Through the summer this hasn't been a problem, as we usually have the back door wide open most of the day. But as it has got colder, the door is only opened when necessary, and one of us (usually me) has ended up standing by the open back door, freezing, shivering and waiting for Bridie to decide she has finished inspecting the garden and is ready to come in again.
Until the other day.
Graham was out in the shed doing his exercises, and Bridie wanted to go out. I stood by the back door as usual, waiting for Bridie, who was doing a major inspection of the back garden, here, there and everywhere, trotting beautifully from place to place, and galloping past the door.
I called her a couple of times, she looked at me, then headed off to the far reaches of the garden again. I thought 'Well sod you then.' and shut the back door, knowing that Graham was outside, and if all else failed he would let Bridie in when he came in.
I stomped upstairs feeling annoyed with Bridie and got on with my computer work - well I say 'work', WoW may have been involved.
All of a sudden I heard a crash as the dog flap bust open and the unmistakable sounds of Bridie thundering upstairs. 'Have you come in on your own?' I wondered aloud, 'Or has Graham 'helped' you?' I listened to try and hear if Graham was downstairs but there was nothing.
Then a couple of minutes later Graham did come in and asked 'Has Bridie come in?'
For the first time, Bridie had used the dog flap, on her own, with no help.
Now we only have to get her used to the idea that she can use it to go out as well.