The Dreaded Yearly

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.

So, yay!

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.

10 thoughts on “The Dreaded Yearly

  1. Yay Silas!

    I stopped caring what people think about me keeping Blueberry away from their dog(s) a little while ago. I’d rather them think the worst and keep their distance than have them allow their unleashed/rude dogs approach her. I can usually spot the ones she’ll be ok with. She’s really only nervous around the bigger dogs and since they pick up on that – they usually react negatively towards her.

    And a Flexi-lead inside the vet’s office – really, lady? Some people are clueless.


  2. Good job Silas. Oh it drives me nuts at the vet when you have people who are 1) oblivious to where there dogs are or 2) think it is doggie day care play time. I avoid all contact with other dogs at the vet. I don’t know if they have something catchy, (they don’t know if my dogs have something catchy) either. Also the dogs are all ready nervous so who needs more stress on them with strange dogs (of any size) getting in their face. I am not at all shy about saying in a loud voice “watch your dog”. LOL when you get old, you have zero patience.

    Did I ever tell you that Storm has a note on her permanent record at the vet from an incident when she was a puppy? She does…lol. These days when she goes to the vet, no one can ever believe that note applied to her. She is a perfect lady, but I still worry. When we took her to a different vet (repro vet) to have her spayed, I secretly did a happy dance when the vet said how well behaved she was for him. I admit, I was worried the entire time she was there.


    1. Poor Storm! It’s like that threat from elementary school “This is going in your permanent record!”

      I’ve never seen Silas’s record at the regular vet. They take him to the back for weighing and some other things, and I always worry about how he behaves back there. They did seem really relieved when I told them I could trim his nails myself.


  3. Way to go, Silas! The vet is a stressful experience with Lucas, though I’ve gotten pretty good about standing up for him when people are oblivious about their dogs. Usually I just tell the front desk staff that we’ll wait outside, and we play until it’s our turn. Last time, though, a parent let their KID run right up to his face and yell, “WHAT A BIG DOG” like 3 inches from his snout. I had a heart attack… but he did much better than I anticipated. Thankfully it’s only once a year! 🙂


  4. Whew, what a relief for you! And good job to Silas and you.

    I’m lucky the vet’s office has a big window as you approach the waiting room and I can see inside as I approach and know whether I need to be cautious or not. Generally I try and keep both my dogs away from other dogs. It’s just easier. AND I have no problem letting the staff know I’m stepping outside if need be. They can come and get me out there just as well as anywhere else.

    Most of the times there won’t be an issue, but I’m not willing to take the chance on the time there could be.


  5. So glad that the vet visit went well! I similarly expect Pyrrha to behave worse in many situations and she can sometimes pleasantly surprise me. We also avoid all dogs on Flexi leashes, as a general rule! Have had way too many unfavorable encounters with people who use them on a regular basis.


  6. When i brought non-reactive Honey home, I struggled with my old, vigilant habits from previous dogs. Managing ourselves is often harder than managing our dogs.

    Glad the vet visit went so well. Yay Silas!


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