Join Our Community of Dog Lovers!

Subscribe now so that you get email alerts about all new content and/or updates from Champion of My Heart!  +

FREE e-book "8 Things to Know About Veterinary Care"

January 18, 2013

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.


About the Author 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.

  1. I think it’s great that you are not expecting anything from her and are happy with her giving you what she can, when she can. It’s so difficult to have a dog with neurological problems. Our Pom suffered seizures, and it was either the seizures, or the medication or a combination of both that took her from a happy little dog, to one who needed help to stay standing when peeing and could no longer walk properly on slippery or uneven services. We tried everything, meds, MRI, bloodwork, and neuroligical exam and sadly never did get to the reason why she kept seizing before she passed away at age 8. I think you’re amazing family to your Lily, grab those happy moments and hold on to them. xo

  2. Roxanne,
    I believe that’s all okay! Lilly is doing what her body n mind tell her….once in a while something stimulates what she learned in the past – an open door, sit until released. That’s a Joy Moment – grab it and smile! “Sweet and Content”…that’s awesome!

  3. Your a good momma for her! You don’t push her to do what she can no longer do and you accept and love her as she is. Hopefully she will continue to get better. Maybe not 100% – but I’m sure that will be enough for you. You just got to love her!!

  4. I’m sorry to hear that a lot of your training backslid, but of course it’s quite understandable why. It’s actually heartwarming that you let everything slide, so you and Lilly could focus more on her the immediate danger of her health. That’s life, right? Priorities shift and sway, and what was once important suddenly seems trite. Glad to hear that some of your hard work still sticks, like important behaviors like not leaving the house without permission. And glad to hear she seems “Content”. That’s the best update of all.

  5. Poor Lilly, and poor you – it must be more difficult for you that she sometimes remembers some “rules”, rather than just forgetting everything. I know I’m finding it difficult enough that my Starr has eighteen months less training than Inka, and that should be pretty obvious (at least for me!)

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


Stay Tuned for Something New!

big things in the works ... promise

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!