Saturday, March 26, 2011

I think it's time...

I have a friend who calls her dog “recovering reactive.” I like that term. It's a nice nod to the past while simultaneously acknowledging the progress her dog has made. Despite this, I have never felt comfortable claiming the label as our own; I didn't feel that Maisy was at the point where I could call her “recovering.”

Well, I think it's time.

First, she relaxed in class. Then, she realized that dudes really aren't that bad. Plus, who can forget her laid back evening with a pack of dogs and a bunch of people?

And now? Well, today she was awesome.

It started out with a trip to the vet for her annual exam. We walked in, and there were three very fiesty Westies in the waiting room, barking their fool heads off and straining on their leashes towards us. Maisy glanced over at them, wagged her tail softly, and then smiled at me. We walked up to the front desk on a loose leash, and she sat by my side, still wagging softly, her eyes barely leaving my face. We went into the exam room, and Maisy laid down at my feet while we waited for the doctor. She continued to be calm and relaxed throughout the appointment, even when she had a bunch of blood drawn.

I was proud of how she'd done, and if the day had ended there, I would have been quite happy with her behavior. But it didn't end there. On the way home, I stopped to see a friend at a conformation show. I left Maisy in the car, and when I returned to check on her, I was happy to find her pretty relaxed. Although I hadn't planned to bring Maisy in- she'd had quite the day already with those Westies, after all- when I got her out to stretch her legs, she pulled me to a mud puddle and began drinking out of it. I decided we'd best go inside to get a drink of (clean) water.

We walked past this:

And down this hall:

And the whole time, she was gently wagging her tail and smiling at me. I even carried a full bowl of water in my leash hand without spilling any! If you saw her, you'd never know she was reactive. We weren't inside for very long, but still- that was a pretty overwhelming environment for Maisy, and she had to walk right by several big dogs

I was so, so proud of her. In fact, I was so proud that I think my friend got tired of me saying, “But she walked past all this! And she was calm!” Meanwhile, Maisy was out in the car for another couple of hours, still pretty relaxed when I returned. Wow.

So, that whole reactive label? It's a thing of the past. From now on, I will think of Maisy as a recovering reactive dog. I think it's time.

17 comments:

Marsha said...

Congratulations Maisy and Crystal! Job well done! Proof positive that positive reinforcement works!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Wahoo!!!! So we are for sure going to see her next month at the APDT/CDSP trial right?!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's so awesome to see Maisy feeling so much more relaxed.

Nicky

Katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

This made me almost cry with how happy and proud you must feel! I know the joy of seeing my Maizey make the progress she has, and I know you both deserve to see the results of your hard work! Congratulations, you are both amazing!!! You give me hope for me and my "working on being a recovering reactive dog" girl.

Crystal said...

Thanks everyone! I appreciate your well-wishes. :)

Laura- You will definitely see us there, but I don't think we'll be entered. Recovered or not, I want to take things slowly.

Ettel, Charlie Poodle, and Emma Pitty said...

Yay!!!!! Congratulations!!!! I'm so happy for you. You may need to change the name of your blog . . .

Crystal said...

Hahahah, that's true, isn't it, Ettel? Unfortunately, "Recovering Reactive Champion" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it...

Dawn said...

I am so happy to hear how well she did. Celebration Hugs to both of you!

Samantha said...

That's fantastic, congrats! I hope one day I can say the same about my pup :)

WonderPupsMom said...

congrats to both of you! love those 'proud dog-owner' moments! it's amazing what dogs can overcome...

Joanna said...

Woohooo!! Great job both of you! Congratulations!

Sophie said...

Well done, this is pretty fantastic! :) Just thinking about the difference between Maisy and a dog 'trained' not to be reactive with P+ is astounding - Maisy sounds like she was genuinely relaxed, not just shut down from stress!

This is fabulous news for you both. I'm so happy for you :)

Crystal said...

Sophie, she looked downright HAPPY. :) Thanks again to everyone who commented and celebrated with us.

Patty said...

Wonderful update!!!

Cinnamon said...

Congratulations, Crystal!! Your hard work paid off. I have good news too. Cinnamon's reactivity has decreased significantly in the last few weeks. As she is less reactive, I feel much more relaxed while walking Cinnamon and Mint together. It seems Cinnamon also enjoys her walks more than before :-)

Cinnamon's mum

Crystal said...

Hooray for Cinnamon, too! I LOVE hearing stories about dogs who are doing better!!

Ninso said...

Woo hoo!!!! That's gotta feel amazing! Congrats to you both!