Yesterday Maizey went to the ophthalmologist. We saw a very nice doctor, who had not so nice news for us.
Not the worst news we could have got, but still a little worrisome.
First the good. . . strike that. Amazing. . . strike that. No, this is stunningly exciting, I am the proudest crazymomlady in the world news.
Since I knew we were going to a new clinic I figured there would be plenty of opportunity for Maizey to be stressed and react. Safe assumption going to the dog ophthalmologist that there will be dogs there, right?
The clinic shares a waiting room an emergency care clinic so yes, there were dogs there. Lots of them.
I went prepared. Her thunder shirt went on an hour before we were supposed to leave. (Although it also had to come off and get dried when the pups decided a roll in the snow was in order 20 minutes before we did leave.) She also got a dose of Rescue Remedy about that time.
High value treats in the treat bag, her mat, a high value chewy to keep her occupied, a calm Crazymomlady and we were ready for anything!
So how did she do?
In the parking lot it looked ominous, as there were three big dogs getting in and out of their cars. So I waited until the coast was clear to get Maizey out of her carrier. It’s not unusual for her to react from inside the car and I just didn’t want to start the visit that way.
As we headed inside I could see we were awaited by not one, two or three dogs, but four! At this point my blood pressure started to climb. When you have a little dog on the end of your leash whom you are pretty positive will soon become a barking, lunging vision of fear it tends to up your anxiety level a bit.
So I took a deep breath, and kicked in our skills. She was quiet so I started to mark her with, “good” the soothing reward marker we have conditioned, and shoveling in the biggest treats we had. I always like to fill up her mouth, I figure it might be harder to bark that way.
We took our time. One of the most useful things I have learned is that if I get hurried I don’t think of all the little skills that will keep her focused on me and not on reacting. So we did a sit at each door going in, with high reinforcement of course, another sit on the door mat as soon as we were through the doors, with “watch me’s” thrown in for focus and soon enough we were at the counter getting checked in.
Now my lack of mentioning one reaction from her may have led you to believe I had magically wished those 4 dogs away, but no, they were all still there! At this point I started to think someone had kidnapped my Princess Of The Shrill Bark and replaced her with a normal dog, but no, it was just my little girl using her skills and making me so proud!
Long story not as long, we were in the waiting room with other dogs coming and going, barking and rustling around for about a half hour and she never barked one time! Not one!
She kept her brain engaged by doing basic skills, and for the first time we successfully and consistently used her “show me” cue. This is loosely based on Leslie Mcdevitts’ LAT. I ask her to “show me” what ever she appears stressed at and she looks and then reorients to me. Reward comes if she does so with no vocalization. She did so good!
The crowning moment came when we were checking out and there were two big black Lab mixes waiting. Black Labs are Maizey’s nemesis dog. I have never seen her not react to one. And still, not one bark! At one point, when I couldn’t back away for more space, one of them came and sat about two feet from us, she actually turned to meet that dog. She was worried, but she acted like she would try to say hi. I could have cheered I was so proud.
Now I won’t try to say that she wasn’t stressed. I saw the signs of worry in her and at one point, when a pug in an e-collar had a little fit behind us, she startled right off her feet. Honestly that one startled me, no offense to you pug lovers, but they are already a little strange looking and put an e-collar on one it’s a startling sight! But even then she settled right back into working for me.
So what was the difference? I would like to think all of our practice is starting to pay off, the Thunder Shirt and Rescue Remedy are helping her. I do think that, but I also know a lot of factors could come into play, such as it being a new place, maybe she was a little shut down, oh just a whole list of things. But for now I am just going to bask in the joy of our success and hopefully keep building on it!
As for the Blepharitis, Corneal Dystrophy, and Distichiasis you will have to check back later this week for low down on those diagnoses about her eyes. Not to worry it is nothing too serious and hopefully will clear up in a few weeks.
Until then a 4legged lesson for us all: if you love a reactive dog take heart, progress can be made and if feels oh so sweet to see your hard work help your pup!