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