It was a pretty big list.
In the same post, I listed how many of those fears she had already managed to overcome.
I couldn't have been more proud of her for facing all of that.
But it's time to update that list once again.
There are still a few things that Bella needs our help and encouragement to face but her list is so much smaller now I almost wonder what I'm supposed to do with a blog about a scared-y dog when she's not so scared-y any more.
Here's where we left off back in April of 2012:
Things Bella was still afraid ofAnd here's we are now:
- People (general)
- Dogs (general)
- The vacuum cleaner
- Bugs that buzz (flies, bees, etc)
- Storms (wind, heavy rain, thunder)
- The snow-blower
- Things that fall on the roof (acorns, stones, branches, snow...)
- Agility obstacles (in progress):
- Tippy boards
Things Bella is still afraid ofShe's still not fond of bugs - but only when they are harassing her and that's not fear, that's annoyance and rightly so.
- Other dogs
Bella's also still not thrilled with the squirrels who seem to think the shortest distance between two points is over our bedroom roof at 6 o'clock in the morning. She still gets up and leaves but it's not the distressed, frantic scamper that it once was.
And while she's learned to self-sooth for small storms by going to the basement by herself, the considerable storms we've been having here in Massachusetts as of late have proven she will always seek our comfort for the big bad booms that go bump in the day or night.
(To be fair, there was a thunderclap so loud and house-rattling the other day that, even though I was in the basement with her, I jumped out of my skin. I think her nervous reaction to such is what one would have to classify as, uh, normal.)
But here's something new, something that jumped out at me when I looked at the pictures in that original post. When I first wrote these lists, it never occurred to me to put something like "toenail trimming" on them because it was so far outside our realm of possibility - as you can plainly see by the dagger-like talons she's sporting in those pics.
|Yikes! Look at those claws!|
Prior to putting Bella on Gabapentin as we did in January this year, in the 5+ years(!) I had been working with her to achieve the toenail trimming milestone, the closest I had ever been able to come was holding her foot in one hand with the Pedi-Paws turned on in the other. Any attempt to bring the buzzing tool closer to her was met with a dash into another room. (I never pushed beyond that point because it was clear she was "over threshold" and I'd be doing more harm than good.)
What follows is a tragically uninspired video of Bella getting her toenails trimmed. While it will mean little to the vast majority of people who come upon it, it represents a once unimaginable step in Bella's development to me and Jan.
There has been more than one occasion in the last 6 months where Jan and I have looked at each other and said "What happened to our dog?" Not in a bad, "oh no she's broken" kind of way but in a "how did she get to be so normal?" fashion. Her reaction, or lack thereof, to the vacuum cleaner surprises me each and every time and the fact that I can trim her toenails with (relative) ease is something I never expected to witness.
She is my brave little girl even if she did need some pharmaceutical assistance to get there.
Now that we have her under threshold as a general rule, it is incumbent upon us to teach her the coping skills she needs to survive whatever life throws her way in the future. We finally feel that's a real possibility. She is a good student, quick and eager to learn. We just have to have the patience and persistence to guide her in this journey.
And now we know, it is at least truly possible.
Author's note: We learned today that Brewster has rescue in San Diego. We are in awe of our friends, Tim and Lorrie, for the incredible heart-ache they have assumed in order to give Brewster a real shot at a happy and fear-free life. We are saddened by their loss but so incredibly happy for Brewster as he engages in this new journey. Best wishes, Brewster! Here's hoping your new family will drop a line every now and then so we can watch you flourish.
Disclaimer: If you happen to click on that link to the Pedi-Paws and decide to buy one for your own pup, I'll get a small commission. I'm pretty sure I'll not be getting rich off the deal but for the sake of full disclosure, it needs to be said. Same thing with the treats in the background: Zuke's Mini Naturals if you were wondering. Both were purchased by me and are not part of any promotion or advertisement.