The stroller experimentation continues. . .
Every once in a while you see your training pay off and so far this whole stroller thing seems to be that moment for Maizey and I. So far. I’m reserving total judgment until there’s more data, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing.
We’ve taken two good real walks with the stroller so far. Both times I saw just the reaction I thought I’d see at this point. Yesterday we headed out and as soon as I set up the stroller she hopped in. Good sign number one. I zipped the bonnet closed so I didn’t have to worry about her bailing out and she settled right in. She asked to get out a couple times and walked quite a bit, but when she started getting stressed and asked to be picked up I just offered her to get back in the stroller and she happily did that.
Today we walked farther than we have in weeks. She didn’t walk as much as yesterday since I was working with Magnus on how to walk on a nice loose leash next to the stroller. I want him to walk on the right so that’s a change as his default is my left side. He did wonderfully. He’s such an easy going boy and makes my life easy.
I’m very happy that she’s getting out and about with much lower stress in general. She has choices and she seems to sense that. There was so much less whining and barking. Her body language in general is more settled, slower, not as frantic. It’s like a little portable chill out spot that lets her decompress on the go. Her reaction after the walk is better too. Normally we’d have a while of pretty hyper zoomies after we got home, but both days she asked for her stroller to be set up as soon as we got in the house and then hopped in and took a nap.
I’m so relieved to have hope that she can get out more and have it not be so hard on both of us. The other day someone asked me what was stressful to her on a walk. I said, “Everything.” They said, “But what are her triggers?” I just laughed and said, “oh, the air.” Ha Ha Ha. People really don’t understand what it’s like to have a dog that isn’t just reactive, but has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s called generalized, because the triggers start in the brain chemistry and the anxiety is caused by everything or nothing in the environment. So to have a safe space we can take anywhere is hugely relieving to both of us.
Did you see this post at Rollin’ With Rubi? It struck such a chord with me. In it she talks about how a trainer finally looked at her dog and saw the truth. He’s a dog full of fear and brave enough to work through it. She expresses how relieved she was to have someone finally see what she sees in her dog. Well, that was my take home message anyways. It’s a message I can well relate to. People look at Maizey and they see a “happy” “squirmy” “wiggling” little dog. They don’t know that’s not her normal self. That’s her out in the world anxious self and it doesn’t look that bad. It doesn’t look like a disorder.
In Home Depot the other day she was like that and when I picked her up she wanted to crawl into my face for reassurance. The lady I was chatting with said, “Oh she’s such a lover, what a snuggle bug.” Sure, except that’s not what’s making her do that. I’ve always said it would be easier to have a broken leg than an anxiety disorder. People don’t understand what they can’t see or haven’t experienced. If she had a bandage on people would get when I say you can’t pet her she’s sick.
I guess I didn’t even know that rant was in me today, but there it is. I guess that part matters to me because I’m really happy to have someplace that she can go to for safety. I’ve lost a bit of hope that she’ll ever live without fear and anxiety. I promise I’ll keep trying to find that for her, but in the mean time what I am able to do is provide whatever safety and reassurance I can. Isn’t that the best any of us can do for each other? We can’t fix it all, but we can sit in the space the other is in and keep them company. Acceptance and reassurance are the most we can offer sometimes. Giving Maizey a safe space to get out and enjoy the world in is the best I can do right now. I guess that’s today’s 4legged lesson: sit with each other in the space that you can’t change, even if that space is a doggy stroller.
Whew! I sure need to lighten up around her lately! Check back tomorrow for a rant free, silly Wordless Wednesday. Even I can’t make that serious!