Walking to the vet’s office

Our vet is a mile away. It takes 20 minutes to walk. Yet, for Lyra, this is a huge deal because she has to cross a road that scares her. I can’t drive her, as we have no car; the local taxi drivers aren’t keen on dogs. I have really got to help her feel better about crossing the road on foot.

As of today (March 19, 2017) she is reluctant even to head in that direction. I will use a map to illustrate the problem:

Lyra is reluctant even to walk to B (the blue circle). It’s as if B is the antecedent to the scary road (darker grey). Once we are beyond the road, she begins to calm down. She is eager to enter the vet’s office — if not to endure the exam. I am convinced that the main problem is the road itself. Lyra will happily walk down our side of the street, and turn left — and walk across other roads (though none as busy as the scary one).

My plan is to work on getting her to A, using the following criteria to chart progress (or not) toward a +CER: Each time she pulls away (tries to go in the opposite direction) gets a score of 1. If she snatches at her treat (given at destination), 1; if she refuses the treat, 2. If she refuses to play the “find it” game at destination (which I’ll offer once), 1.

In other words, each “reactive” response gets a value; the higher the total, the more fearful I’ll assume her to be. If her score is high on the first day, I’ll break the route into smaller steps. (Obviously, I don’t want to force her into a fearful situation.) Only when she’s got a score of 0 for three events in a row (i.e., 9 zeros) will we move to the next location.

The chart I’m using to track progress is here:

My current plan is to work on a +CER to A: to take her to A, give her high value treats, then bring her home. I’ll aim to do this three times a day — 1st, 2nd, 3rd — for as long as it takes to get the +CER.

Unfortunately, I will have to take her to the vet’s office on April 17 — regardless of her rate of progress — but I will cross that bridge later (i.e., April 17).

Here’s where I chart her progress.

P.s., I’ve called it the “Terror Run” after a ritual, scary run along a coastal path in Chamomile Lawn (by Mary Wesley).