When Lilly became so dangerously ill nearly a year ago, we abandoned her anxiety meds because of their dampening effect on her now troubled brain. And, we essentially stopped working on dog training issues. These days, I ask her for very little, and the results are these.
- Lilly sometimes shows a little fear, now and then, but I believe her cognitive delays have dulled her responses — good and bad — in general. Sometimes, though, at the veterinary hospitals, she shivers with nerves.
- Lilly does still occasionally react to other dogs (grumbling), particularly if she is already nervous … like in the veterinary hospital lobby.
- Lilly has become VERY pushy, with all of her attention-seeking behaviors, which we worked so hard to shift in years past, back with a vengeance. For example, she will dive face-first into a cereal bowl, if she thinks I’m taking too long to share, or she will use her front paws to reach and grab something of mine she wants.
- Lilly is often so obsessed with sniffing that she seems NOT to hear me in the house or on walks.
- Lilly used to move any time I moved, mostly from agility training, but now I find myself having to dodge and/or step around her (often at my own risk in the kitchen or on the ice outside).
- Unless it’s clear we’ve moved into training mode, Lilly is quite slow in responding to verbal cues, even a simple sit.
Overall, I simply do not ask much of her. It’s a little frustrating after all of our years of dog training work and teamwork to have her blow me off, but I figure she is coping with her New World the best she can.
Sometimes I fear she cannot see well enough to respond or that it takes her a while to process what I’ve asked or how I’ve moved around her.
I try hard simply to let her be and to let that be enough.
We often joke with our neurology team that Lilly feels well enough to be ornery, and maybe that’s OK.
Sometimes, however, she surprises me. While carrying laundry to hang outside, I recently left the back door open. Lilly stayed right inside the door, the entire time I hung laundry, because I forgot to give her permission to come with me.
So, many of the training “rules” are still in her head. I just don’t think they always show through in her actions.
Still, I can sometimes tell her to “Go get Lambie!” (her torn-up, fav plush toy), and she will search the house /toy box until she finds it.
Through all of this, Lilly has lost a bit of her edge. She no longer seems like she has a BIG secret or is on the verge of doing something wild. But, most days, she seems a little less bright but happy. Sweet and content. Persistent but (mostly) pliable.