I thought that I should use “Back to normal” in the form of a question because I am really not too sure what “normal” is any more!
We picked Carol up yesterday, and “normal” would have dictated 75lbs of dog making loud whiny woofing noises as he tried (he is tethered) to jump up and down in the back of the car. Apart from a brief moment of pacing, there were no frantic attempts to get out and greet her.
There were some gestures of whiny woofs, but nothing very demonstrative, which we suspect was due to Carol being pushed out to the car in a wheel-chair. He had never seen her like that before. Once she had got herself into the car, and we started to drive away, he showed a little more excitement which culminated in a few very decisive licks up the side of her face. After that he settled down for the ride home!
We clearly had him at a disadvantage because, even when we arrived home and he was let out of the car, he seemed very confused (although clearly happy) about Carol being back. We got him into the house first, so that Carol could manage the few steps without risk of being knocked off balance by him, and the whole “return home” exercise was completed without any problems.
Yesterday was again a very hot and humid day, and so Ray’s walk was planned for around 8:00pm (he had a long walk in the early morning). The anticipated issue of Ray not wanting to leave Carol again to go for a walk was realized! He was clearly not going anywhere without her but, fortunately, she is a little mobile and was managing quite long walks within the hospital as long as she had a “walking frame (on wheels) to stabilize her as necessary.
We had a similar device here ready for her, and so she decided to join us and do a brief walk up and down the street. That brief walk was extended to Ray’s park, and our return trip included checking our community mail boxes, so a short distance was completed with Ray being very happy and clearly watching Carol’s every move.
This morning, at around 6:15am, he allowed me to put his harness on him and generally prepare him for a walk. He even walked quite enthusiastically through our back gate and onto our driveway! Then, it would appear, a light suddenly went on in his head as he realized that Carol was home. He immediately turned around and went back through the gate, up the steps, and waited for me to open the door! He then settled down outside Carol’s door and was clearly not going anywhere!
In later discussions, we thought that he could probably be coaxed with the right choice of food but, whereas we understand the difference between a bribe* and a reward*, a dog’s understanding is based simply on the circumstances. i.e. If he sees it as an incentive to do something, then he will manipulate that fact in his favor which is a totally undesirable outcome. It is our plan therefore to see if having yummy treats on me can get him moving with just me, and then he can be rewarded during the walk. We do not at this time have a plan “B”!
*For anybody who has never had cause to think about this – A bribe is a treat offered BEFORE the action is completed; a reward is a treat offered AFTER the action is completed. If you get confused over that , you could very likely end up with an extremely manipulative dog!
Finally, although of no less importance, our heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who offered prayers, healing vibes, positive thoughts, and various other expressions of wishing Carol well and a speedy recovery. I was rather surprised at how many “indirect” Followers (linked from another social platform) expressed their concern and well wishes, most notably via Facebook. Thank you so much everybody. While your comments were obviously appreciated, the few moments that you took out of your lives to make those comments were very special and, in a world that generally seems to be rather self-focused, a refreshing statement of caring. Thanks again everybody. There’s hope for the human race yet!