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Weekly Training Update (April 23)

Lilly and I began our much-overdue 100% togetherness day on Sunday with a visit to Mom’s place (the assisted living facility). Lilly showed improvement in some areas, but … alas … one pretty “scary” thing happened.

The Elevator

It turns out that the main elevator at the facility makes MUCH more noise going up than coming down. So, Lilly does significantly better on the ride down.

She got a chance to do both twice because we went for a walk with my Mom outside.

The Walk

Lilly is getting much more comfortable around all the walkers. She walked nicely right next to my Mom outside, even when the wheels crunched a little on the gravel.

Sitting Outside

It was a nice, warm day, so we sat outside on a bench for a while, and Lilly did great, even when another family with a visiting dog made a lap. They were a good distance away, but Lilly’s face stayed relaxed and smiley. I could tell she alerted to the dog because of her ear movement, but that’s all she did.

Lilly also took kindly to a couple of different visitors stopping to chat with us. She even “poked” one woman’s pant leg and accepted a head pet.

I asked Lilly to sit between me and my Mom on the bench so that my Mom could pet Lilly, and Lilly was super sweet. She’ll never be a lovey-dovey girl with people other than me and Tom, but she is polite.

Hanging Out

This is my best attempt at a photo of the two of them. I wanted Lilly to sit facing me, but this is what I got. I’d say they both look pretty happy.

What’s Behind Door #2

Alas, on our final elevator ride down, the doors opened on the second floor, and one of the regular “house” dogs attempted to enter the elevator which already held me and Lilly, my Mom and her walker, and another resident and her walker. It was already pretty tight, and Lilly was handing it fine.

But, when the dog (Nancy is her name) headed straight for us, Lilly flipped out. She didn’t really snark as much as flop around like a caught fish on the line. It was classic escape behavior.

I got between Lilly and Nancy the best I could. I told Nancy’s mom that Lilly was afraid of other dogs, and she quickly recalled Nancy out of the elevator and said they’d wait for the next one.

I do my best to avoid the house dogs, but sometimes I just cannot. Perhaps we will start taking the stairs … just to be safe.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Roxanne Hawn - April 23, 2010

Sam … in Lilly’s case there are specific situations where she’ll snark vs flee. The bad news? She’s more likely to flee/flop when she is really, really scared. So, in a way, her reaction was not good.

The hard part I had to learn over time is that the snarking is 1/2-way home on the spectrum toward comfort … when she is more confident, but uncomfortable, she’ll snark. When she is completely freaked, she’ll flee/flop.

Some day I hope to get her past all that, where she is both calm and OK enough not to respond at all.

Sam - April 23, 2010

What do you think caused her to flop like a fish instead of snark? I ask because I wonder the same thing about when Marge chooses between snarking and “flopping.”

These visits sound like they’re great for Lilly. She’s dealing with it so well now that I think as she keeps going over the summer, she won’t be anxious at all because she’ll know what’s coming.

Roxanne Hawn - April 23, 2010

Thanks, Deborah. The elevator thing isn’t easy, but we’re working it, and if things don’t improve considerably … we’ll just take the stairs.

Deborah Flick - April 23, 2010

I was totally with you and Lilly reading this post. There’s not such thing as just a walk, or just a visit, or just an elevator ride with a fearful dog. Lilly is lucky to have such an observant and caring mom.

Sadie, Gigi and I are still working on elevators! We don’t ride them yet, on purpose anyway. I’m so glad they aren’t a big issue for Lilly.

Edie - April 23, 2010

I’m going to start working with Frankie and a trainer so I’m inspired too. Frankie has always had elevator issues — I think it’s the vibrations as much as the noise in his case; he seems to hate riding in all things with motors — and I’m sure another dog entering would completely freak him out. Good for your quick reflexes in calming a situation that could have escalated.

Roxanne Hawn - April 23, 2010

Well, AC … this is YEARS in the making, but I know that you and Kona are on the right track. I know the relaxation protocol is tedious, but stick with it!

AC - April 23, 2010

I think one scare when Lilly was around a number of potentially scary things was pretty darn good! Hearing about visits like this with Lilly really encourage me to keep at it with Kona.

Lilly and your mom do look happy.

Roxanne Hawn - April 23, 2010

Thanks, everyone. Because I know it’s hard work for Lilly, I don’t take her every week, but once a month seems just about right.

Over the summer, I expect to see more and more dogs on our visits, so I’ll have to monitor the situation and see what’s safe or manageable and what isn’t.

KB - April 23, 2010

A good visit, all in all! I’d say that escape behavior is much better than snarking. That’s really good – because I think that elevators must be kind of scary for dogs to start with. Maybe the stairs are a good idea. Good Job, Lilly!

Eric Goebelbecker - April 23, 2010

Nicely done! Lilly is in good hands. It looks like you were reading her very carefully the whole time.

Susan - April 23, 2010

I’d say all in all, Lilly did very well. And you, no qualifications at all, did magnificently by her, your mom and everyone else there.

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