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Ring my bell

Penny, who has since moved to Arizona with Amanda and Chris, is a bell expert.

Still half-asleep at 5:45 a.m., I stumbled to the kitchen in anticipation of the pot of coffee that awaited me.

As I moved around the dining room table, I spotted something from the corner of my eye. Something you never want to see much less see before your first cup of coffee. Let's just say that it was a good thing I saw it and didn't step in it.

Frustrated and bewildered, I passed on the story to my husband who was, at the time, away on business.

"Seriously," I said. "Why can't Denali just let me know that he needs to go outside? He's too old for this."

Mark agreed, saying that Denali goes out when we ask him if he wants to go "outside" but rarely barks to do so. For example, he seemed content to lounge and nap after his Sunday morning run. For six hours. It was only when I realized that it was 3 p.m. that I made him go out. Not good. Not good at all.

But I have a solution ... I think. I hope.

Last year, when we first got Denali, my husband and I purchased a bird bell. The idea was that Denali would ring the bell, alerting us to a bathroom need. He didn't seem to get it, though, and with other issues to address, we gave up. This year, Denali's issues are nil and he's a bit wiser. It's time to ring the bell.

The plan thus far has been to stand by the door and ring the bell as we say, "Outside! Outside!" When Denali prances to the door, we lead him by the collar to the bell and brush his nose against the bell while we repeat "Outside." He then gets a treat. We leash him up, take him outside and allow him to ... well, you know. Upon completion, he gets another treat.

We're about five days into the project, and Denali has rang the bell twice. Considering it took him a month or so to learn to go No. 2 in our yard, I think we're making progress.