Good times happening. Since the last postcard we seem to have found our feet and paws. On consecutive days Cauta has been able to play appropriately with different kinds of dogs, and be called away more easily from dogs who want to meet, but don’t want to play.
For instance, sometimes (but not every time) he can take his cue from other canines. Another may approach and snarl after sniffing, just as Cauta is in the middle of a play bow. It is easy to see his confusion and wrong footedness, and easier to offer him the option of coming back, rather than his previous choice which would have been to wade in regardless.
He can now (mostly) shift gears between full on madcap play to mooching with others, with a little intervention from us. Before he only had the option of hurling himself around, now he can have periods of gently walking with other dogs who are not into playing.
It’s a real relief that he has made it this far, walks are getting enjoyable rather than a tense military operation. We have been able to allow him more freedom, more time off lead, as we can trust he can still respond to us whilst engaging with the outside world.
Perhaps he really has started to see us as his secure base, he is way more responsive, and to see him galloping toward us is always exhilarating. I suspect he will always veer toward other dogs, but it feels like he is now able to do this safely, closely monitored by us…
I think of all the work all of us have put in to helping guide him with this, the days that were really, really tough, and how things seemed quite bleak for a while. At points it felt like we may have to accept he would be continually on lead, unless in a secure field. We didn’t want this future for him, or us, so we tried our best to get as far as we could in going down another path. Many people helped us with this, from his dog walking buddies to trainers, behaviourists and friends.
I think of how much work other carers put in with dogs who are reactive, the commitment and determination it takes to go through this with them every day. Cauta does not seem reactive, more socially inept and insecure. If he was truly reactive I think his behaviour may have been harder to ease, and take longer to shift.
So this is a post to salute those who undergo the daily grind, who get up every day and work every day to help manage, calm, guide and help their dogs with whatever issues they have. It can be very isolating, and I am aware Cauta is on the mild end of the spectrum. So I wanted to send a shout out to all the humans who do this day in, day out, and say that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. It might not be the light that was imagined, but it is there, and change is possible.
Cauta and friends, Ebony and Barney.
Image captured by Glenda Powell, Cauta’s daycare saviour.