Today I want to talk about keeping doors open. But first I want to tell you about my dog.

Yes! I know! I've been talking way too much about our 8-month-old Newfoundland puppy, Zora, lately. It's like I'm one of those annoying parents who goes on and on about her kids. Which I've also done. So Strike 2. I'm almost out.

Anyway, I apologize, and I promise to stop. The problem is I don't get out much with my own species these days, because I'm busy taking care of a dog that has a lot of hair and weighs as much as I do.

Specifically, I am trying to teach her some manners, because you know how it is. Chihuahuas can get away with being naughty. But dogs built like ponies cannot. To this end, I enrolled Zora in a beginning obedience class at PetSmart, where I spent the first session convincing her not to sit in my lap.

When I left the store that first night, I bumped into one of our Deseret Morning News photographers.

"Hi there," I said, dragging my rug of a dog after me.

He gave me a friendly smile. And then he asked who I was.

"It's me!" I said. "Ann!"

A few minutes later when I looked at myself in the rearview mirror of my car, I understood why the photographer hadn't immediately recognized me. Dude! It's hard to immediately recognize people covered with dog spit! Also dog hairs!

Things improved, however. Zora eventually learned how to sit, stay, walk on a loose leash, and not stick her head in aquariums on the Tropical Fish Aisle. High five, Zora! On the last day of class we had our picture taken together, both of us wearing graduation caps.

I'm the one covered with dog spit.

There's only one arena where we're still struggling. Even though she's 8 months old, Zora is NOT 100 percent housebroken. From everything I've read, this is my fault. That's what all the official dog books say. "If your dog is 8 months old and she's not 100 percent housebroken, it's Ann Cannon's fault."

So, yeah. If your dog is still having the occasional "accident" (or "disaster" if your dog weighs over 100 pounds), feel free to blame me.

We're working on it, though. I keep the back door open to make it easier for Zora to go outside whenever. Which she doesn't. She likes to go outside with ME every two hours. Still, the door is open. And maybe one day she'll take advantage of that.

Which brings me to the subject of open doors. Keeping doors open in October isn't THAT convenient. I realize this isn't frosty Finland where my husband and I lived for a while, but still. It IS getting cold outside. (BTW, I once mentioned in this column that polar bears spend the winter months bumping into trees in Finland, because it's so dark there all daylong. This prompted the entire country to write me a letter saying that there are no polar bears in Finland, to which I can only reply: THEN WHAT DID I HEAR BUMPING INTO YOUR TREES? Elephants?)

Anyway. Whatever. My point is this: Keeping doors open for dogs — and for the people who've slipped away from us — might never pay off. But then again, it could.

You can't always tell.

NEXT WEEK: Winners of the annual Deseret Morning News Bad Writing Competition!