It hit me today, while we were taking a practically perfect walk on a practically perfect day, that we’re in a really good place right now.
First, we’re finally reaping (some of) the benefits of all that good training we’ve done over the years. Teaching a puppy and an adolescent dog is really a leap of faith. You (or we, at least) don’t always see the kind of results that you want. They’ll learn to respond to your cues, but “behaving” like a civilized dog comes along slowly. Now that Silas is two and a half, we’re starting to see some really nice things. Like, I can finally sweep the floor without him chasing the broom or eating the hairballs I sweep up. Or, when I unbuckle his seatbelt at the park, he can hop in my lap and sit still until I let him out, rather than clawing my legs to ribbons.
His hyper vigilance is also settling down, thanks to the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals. He still gets really upset at certain things that happen outside, but it’s two or three times a day rather than twelve. Literally twelve–I kept records.
This has combined in a wonderful way with a lot of work we did teaching him how to settle down. That’s most of what we did the first three months we were going to the behaviorist. Stop inadvertently encouraging/rewarding pointless busy-ness, and instead teach him to chill out on his own. Instead of poking a toy at one of us constantly for four hours a day, he’ll try it a time or two, get the message, and go relax somewhere.
Lastly, as I mentioned yesterday, Silas is on a pretty stable diet now. It’s been three months or more since his last food allergy outbreak. A happy stomach makes for a happy dog.
You know what this all means? At least compared to what life has been for the last two years, we are living like regular people with a regular dog. I mean, I don’t have any illusions. That normalcy hinges on a lot of avoidance behaviors that have become an invisible part of our routine and may, to be perfectly honest, always need to be there. There’s always, always work to be done. But for now, I’m pretty happy in our happy place.