Wow. Yesterday was a Day. One of those days where I ran the entire gamut of emotions, from being so happy I wanted to cry to actually crying for well, the usual reasons you want to cry.
I was at the first day of Wags’ annual seminar with Rachel Sanders. For anyone who hasnt read my effusions on Rachel before I’ll recap briefly; I love her. She is fun but honest. To the point and constructive without making you feel like a total ass. She can be direct, but it is also interspersed with “good for yous” and “that was a great try”. Plus she has a great sense of humor and always has some silly story to share. I also was graced with the presence of quite a few of my favorite agility friends, and I’d been looking forward to this for months.
Our first drill was a reasonable course of 10 obstacles that was perfect for Phin. He ran it wonderfully but unfortunately, it was punctuated by him having to stop and gag a few times, mostly in the beginning. However, he got over it quickly and ran like a champ. It was the longest we’ve ever worked at jumping at one stretch and he was just awesome. At the end of our turn Rachel said he was great, “phenomenal” was actually the word she used. I was so happy, so relieved that my ego about this dog wasnt just in my own head, that I really wanted to cry. I was so beyond excited that I let that cloud over the fact that I should have pulled him out right then and there due to the coughing.
I did end up taking him out an hour or two later after one more gagging incident. Forest and I ran a lackluaster turn then we bowed out. There was some attached work drama that came up as well that put me in a foul mood, but I slowly growing a thick skin. We drove straight to the vet.
Phin has been to this vet maybe three times for just routine shots and etc. While he has never loved being there, he was definitely a bit more on edge yesterday than he had been in the past. I had him in the room for a few minutes and seeing how tense he was I went back to the car to get some treats and his Gentle Leader. We went back to the waiting room and did some sitting, downing and backing up which helped him get more comfortable, or at least took his mind off the scary stuff. I warned the vet tech that he was shy around new people and he was okay with her other than trying to scoot away as she took his temp. Then the vet came in (a new one, every time I go to this clinic it is someone else) and it all went downhill rapidly from there… He wouldn’t let her look in his mouth, he was very skittish but never growled or froze, he only was trying to escape. The vet started asking me if he has always been like this, and I said yeah, his fear of strangers is getting worse. This threw her for a loop and suddenly she’s asking me if I use positive reinforcement training and advising that I see a behaviorist or a trainer. I dont really remember what I said to her but whatever it was was probably in a snotty tone. Ugh. I mentioned that they could not control him at 8 weeks in the vets office (true story), so in some ways this was an improvement, but I dont think she believed me. She took him away to do Xrays to rule out an obstruction, telling me they may have to sedate him. I almost lost it at that point.
She came back, saying he was better away from me and that they didnt sedate him but that it took three people to hold him down for Xrays. I wish they had sedated him honestly. The vet was nicer to me for the rest of the visit, but I am done there. I came home and broke down on the phone with Pete telling him about my day.
I love this dog so much and he is showing me how spectacular and awful—by other people’s standards, not mine—he can be within just a few hours of each other. Maybe if I spend a tenth of the amount of time on handling and socializing as I do on agility he can be better? I dont know, but I am exhausted. Regardless, I am trying to focus on the positive, with the understanding that I have a lot more work to do. I also I need to learn to be more okay with my own opinion of my dog and not be so affected by others… Oh yeah, and find another vet too.