I can open and close many different types of doors. Both at home and away. Even great big heavy ones! Although our doors at home are much lighter than many of the ones we encounter when out in public places.
Have you ever thought about how doors open? And what some of the challenges might be if you were using a wheelchair? No, I didn’t either! At least not while I was with my puppy raiser.
But I became very aware of doors when I was going through my professional training to learn service dog skills. My trainer taught me all about doors! And the many different ways I could open and close them.
This week I’m going to tell you about the door at home my mom uses. Another time, I will tell you about the doors we encounter out in public. And some of the challenges we see with them.
Tugging open the front door!
The maneuvering space by our front door is quite tight. Which doesn’t give my mom room to easily open or close the door. And the same is true once we get outside. Although there is slightly more room there.
Even with more room, it isn’t very easy for her to open or close doors. So that is where I can help. And you know how much I love helping my mom!
With our one front door, there are two different ways I use to get it opened. And two other ways to get it closed. Not only does this use different skills I know. It also gives me the chance to practice these skills so I’m ready to use them on unfamiliar doors.
Are there things you need to practice so your skills stay sharp? Like playing a musical instrument or maybe a sport. As a service dog, I must practice all of my tasks. This way I’m sure to be ready with helping my mom in any situation we encounter.
So, back to the door! When we go out, I need to grab ahold of the tug rope and pull downward to release the latch. Once that happens, I can tug open the door. And out we go!
The attached tug rope on the lever handle!
After we get outside, I need to tug the door closed. My mom used to have a rope attached to the handle for me to use. But this was in my way when using my paws to push the lever handle.
So my mom put her creativity to work. And came up with a solution. Which I’m sure doesn’t surprise you. Since finding workable solutions is one of her favorite things to do. Especially when she thinks it might help others.
A while back, my mom saw a friend post about a special kind of handle that would make accessibility easier. One that could be attached to the door, closer to the hinge side. So she experimented with a few different ideas. And came up with a solution.
Years ago, the door used to be metal. Which would have made it much easier because she could have used a magnetic hook. But the current door isn’t metal. So instead, my mom found a suction cup hook to use.
Suction cup with an attached tug on the outside door!
Once we get outside, we turn and face the door. My mom says “tug” and I grab the tug rope to pull the door closed. The great thing about having the tug strap off to the side, closer to the door hinges, is that my paws stay away from the door as it closes. Which is a really good thing!
Now we need to get back inside! The door pushes inward, so in some ways, this would be easier for my mom. But getting at the right angle to reach the handle takes some maneuvering. But with my help, we do it together!
The lever handle needs to be pushed down to release the latch. So when my mom says “door” I use my paw to push it down. And my mom pushes the door so it opens.
Using my paw to push the lever handle down!
And in we go! Once we go through the door, I use my nose to push it closed. If my sisters, Buffy and Roo, have gone outside with us I have to make sure they get inside before I close the door. They don’t like it if I forget them!
As you can see, there is quite a bit of maneuvering that my mom needs to do when going through the door. Both when going outside and coming back inside. But it is made much easier when she has me to help her!
While we were on vacation we had an automatic door button right in our room! With my help of pushing the button, it made leaving the room very easy for my mom. And I loved pushing it. Even when we weren’t going anywhere!
I told her I thought we should have one at home. But then she reminded me that doing the doors the way we do is good practice for me. But I think an automatic door button would be lots more fun!
My mom and I made a video so you can see the different ways I help with the door!