Today was Silas’s yearly checkup at his regular vet. He needed an exam and one last set of non-rabies vaccinations before we put him on a three year cycle for everything.
I’ve been dreading this for months. In part that’s because I know the behaviorist is sending all of Silas’s forms to his regular vet, and, because we’re so focused on problems that don’t really happen constantly, the update forms make Silas look pretty crazy. Especially the initial intake, which was really skewed toward precisely identifying aggression problems.
Also, last time we went Silas was terrified the whole time we were in the exam room, which was a change from his usual “I love you even though you give me shots” routine. I really didn’t want that to escalate.
As with most of the things I worry compulsively over, it turned out to not be a big deal. In fact, it all went pretty well, even the moment in the waiting room when a person reached down to pet him. We’ve had a few pretty bad petting incidents in a row lately, but he fell madly in love with this lady. In fact, I had to bodily drag him away from crawling up in her lap. He fell similarly in love with the vet tech, and spent most of his exam trying to lick her face. I don’t think she was that in to it. Encounters like that are why I sometimes err on the side of letting him meet too many people.
I also felt very proud of myself for nipping a potential dog incident in the bud. As we walked in a pair of miniature poodle-type dogs on flexi-leads were getting checked in to board. The ONE time Silas gets uncomfortable with other dogs in normal circumstances is close-quarters face-to-face greetings, and we were pretty well pinned against the door. As mini poodle number one started walking over (not in an aggressive or rude way, in her defense) I just called out a pleasant-toned “Hey, do you mind?” Mini poodle lady was very “Oh, yeah! He could really eat her up!” In my mind I was saying “Well, actually, I was worried that your small dog would have bad manners and scare Silas.” Instead I just said, “No, he’s pretty good with dogs usually.” I’m trying to get better about advocating for Silas, even though I’m almost always nervous about saying anything.
All in all it was another reminder of my usual lesson. As always, there’s a very fine line between accepting and managing your anxious dog’s real problems that you should not ignore and putting them in a very restrictive bubble. On one hand, you don’t want to create chronic stress. On the other hand, in the bubble they can’t have the kind of good experiences that boost confidence over time. This is, to me the hardest part of it all.