January 27, 2014 by Julia West
As most of you know from my previous posts, Dash is my ‘special case’ and definitely a “Dog In Need Of Space” (aka DINOS). When his behavior problems first became apparent, I did a lot of explaining, a lot of apologizing, a lot of blushing and being embarrassed by his behavior.
I am happy to say that I have gotten over that.
Today I had to take Dash to the vet’s office and hit on a number of things that are difficult for him:
When I checked in, I let them know I’d bring Dash in through the back door when the room was ready. I was told the back door was broken. In addition, a clueless couple was letting their elderly dog roam the lobby on her retractable leash. While I did stew a little about the roaming dog (the office has a sign asking all flexi-leads be locked), when Dash’s name was called I simply turned to the couple, told them my dog was not good with other dogs and please keep their dog next to them while I walked him through.
The tech and the vet were new faces for Dash. As a bonus, the vet was a man, which is extra exciting. I managed his movements, warned them he’d nip when excited, and told them not to use their usual “talk to animals” voices (fuel + fire, anyone?). When they needed to draw blood, I held him still. He was so wound up that we couldn’t get blood from his foreleg. The vet asked if he should take him out back and muzzle him to do the draw. No, I said, I’d use a pressure position to keep him calm and restrained while they drew from his rear leg. I held him and massaged his neck while they worked on getting his veins to cooperate.
In the end, my dog got the care he needed and I was able to minimize the aggravation for everyone. I handled my dog so well that the vet actually confused me with a former-vet client of his. (yes, I’m throwing that in to brag, but how cool is that?)
So here’s the part where I tie it back in and you say “oh, I get it!” – if you haven’t made the connection already. I am able to do all this because I embraced the awkward. I persisted through all the uncomfortable, painful learning and came out the other side stronger and wiser. I am able to be clear with Dash and with people who come in contact with him.
Some of the most valuable awkwardness you’ll experience with your dogs has nothing to do with training or performing in a ring. Learning to advocate for my difficult dog has been awkward – beyond awkward at times – but has also been one of the most rewarding experiences in my canine journey thus far.
And while my focus with Dash is more about quality of life, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a little fun. Hey Bubba – I got your nose… and your back.