Walking the talk
Updated: Oct 10, 2018
This morning Odin had an appointment with our veterinarian for a regular checkup. It just so happened that I was at the vet's office yesterday with two of my other animals for their checkups, and mentioned that I'd be in this morning with Odin. And I reminded him and the vet tech about Odin's aversion to walking into the exam rooms there. For the last year plus, I've been begging/pleading/cajoling Odin to walk through the doorway into the hallway and then into an exam room. The issue? My theory is this: Odin doesn't like slippery floors. More specifically, Odin doesn't like floors that he thinks *might* be slippery. And I can see how Odin might think the floors at the vet might be slippery; they appear shiny, as they are kept quite clean. But the floors are actually textured (because #1: Odin is not the only shiny-floor averse dog out there and #2: my vet is a very conscientious and caring person who took into account the surface that animals would be walking on when he had the floors done). Still, Odin got it in his mind on one of his early visits that it wasn't worth testing those shiny floors. I'm pretty sure he convinced himself that shiny = slippery. And that has made our trips to the vet a little more difficult each time as Odin grows bigger and a little more stubborn (apparently a Leonberger trait!). The staff has been patient and gracious with us; from laying down a trail of towels for him, to eventually just finding enough people to lift him and carry him into the exam room. But I am always a bit stressed about it. I could say it's because I am worried about Odin, but the truth is I'm not. I'm just embarrassed. I'm embarrassed to have a dog that won't walk on the floors he has deemed as too shiny. Why does this embarrass me? Because part of me feels like if I were a better owner, I'd be able to "make" Odin walk on them. Oh, and I'm an animal communicator. So why can't I communicate with my own dog and let him know that he is safe, and there is no need to worry about the floors?
Back to yesterday, and my conversation with the vet about my appointment this morning with Odin and the reminder about his floor aversion. And the vet tech says "well, let's just do his checkup outside then." And my vet agrees, saying it would be better to do the checkup outside, letting Odin have a positive experience. Sure the forecast says it's going to be a little warm, but no rain. Huh. Okay then, looks like we'll do the checkup outside.
Fast forward to this morning... Odin and I arrive at the vet's office, and I do bring him into the main part of the office as I want to get him weighed. My plan is to bring him inside, check-in and weigh him, then let the office staff know that we'll be doing his visit outside. So I brought him inside and weighed him. Then a funny thing happened: I noticed he was walking all around the waiting room (SHINY FLOORS AND ALL) with no apprehension whatsoever. There weren't any other animals there, so I let his leash go very loose to see where he'd go. Where'd he go, you ask? Through the doorway and down the hall to the exam room where the "big dogs" are examined. He walked, just like a big dog, all on his own. No begging/treating/laying of towels necessary.
It hasn't gone unnoticed by me that the only thing that was different about this visit than all the other visits where he wouldn't walk on the floors was me. My energy was entirely different this morning. I had no stress about "getting" him into an exam room - I went into the trip thinking we were going to be outside. And I don't have any doubt that Odin was more relaxed and confident as a result of my energy being in a better (great!) place. Now if I could just get there without the outside/alternate plan in place. It's all about baby steps for me!