Sunny Side

Tuesday Silas had a rough day in the park. For whatever reason, he spent the entire trip looking like this:

ears back

If you have a tall-eared dog, you’ve seen these ears before and you know they’re not good. We call them “the anxiety ears.” The closer they are to touching in the back, the worse Silas is feeling.

Afterwards, I was pretty down about the whole thing. I couldn’t even get Silas to take a cookie. This was a familiar environment, on a lovely day, at a regular park-going time. He’d had his medication, eaten his meals, and even gotten in the car better than he has been lately. There were a few people around, but nothing that particularly upset Silas. It was just . . . a bad day for him. It’s been a while since we had a bad day at the park, and I wasn’t really prepared for it.

Many hours later, though, I realized the sunny side. Silas was basically one step from a meltdown, but he didn’t bark at one person. Not even the person who stopped in the trail to do stretches, or the person who got out of their car right as we walked up. This is huge, considering that there were a good many more people out than we usually see. Even better, before I realized quite how stressed he was, I cued him to walk beside me, and he was able to do it for a few steps at a time, with no reward of any kind. After a lot of hard work, that cue is getting close to having real-world value.

So, while I’m still a little bummed that he had such a rough day (I’m blaming the wind. For real.), there’s a sunny side.

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17 thoughts on “Sunny Side

  1. Glad you were able to make yourself find (and perceive) that sunny side! It’s something we shy-dog-people have to make ourselves do. I think dogs can be like people in this respect; they sometimes just have “off” days, for no particular reason. They wake up on the wrong side of the dog bed?

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  2. Hi Jessica, I just started following your blog. I’m digging into a lot of blogs like yours and Lara’s 🙂 This happens to my pup Stella. She has those ears, and yes, I agree… I know the rest of the walk is going to be a bit tense when her ears look like this. 😦 Stella’s ears scream “I just want to get HOME!”. Love your blog, thank you for sharing. 🙂 Silas sort of looks like Stella… the white, the ears, the terrier. What mix is he?

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    1. I have no idea! I’ve never bothered with the genetic testing, because I assume he’s a mutt from a long line of said. I have trouble coming up with any theory that accounts for the ears, the very short hair, the color, and the skittish personality. Lara had Ruby (who looks a lot like Silas) tested, and it came back mostly Jack Russell and Border Collie.

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  3. Here’s my (unscientific) thought about windy days and anxious dogs: Everything sounds weirder, and smells are carried differently. Lucas always walks differently in the wind. He pins his ears back, and I’ve seen his snout wiggling like crazy. For him, anyway, I theorize that it’s a combination of sounds and smells being “off.”

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    1. The familiar becoming the unfamiliar, yes. Humans are such visual creatures that to us everything is OBVIOUSLY exactly the same. Even dogs with good eyesight don’t prioritize visual data as much as we do.

      Too bad we live in such a windy climate!

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  4. What a pretty dog! This is my first time visiting your blog. I’ve walked a lot of dogs, and the wind really does freak a lot of them out! All those strange noises, things blowing around and probably the smells too!

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  5. See and that is where training kicks it. It was unpleasant for him, but he relied on his training to get through it. That is why I say that training is a gift you give your dog. Well done.

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  6. Hi Silas and Jessica, we came over from Rescued Insanity to visit.

    Windy days are the worst, especially when they pin their ears back like that. It just makes you worry about how you can fix it. But it’s really impressive that he kept it together even with unexpected triggers, kudos on the training progress!

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  7. Our golden retriever HATES the wind….even at home where she should be safe and happy, it totally freaks her out and she’s always hiding under the furniture. So that would make total sense to me that it was what was bothering Silas.
    I’m glad you were able to look on the optimistic side though, and see the progress you have made.

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