September 9, 2006

Guppy Fears the Stairs

DOGMy dog Guppy has a problem. He is afraid of the steps going down from the deck to the yard, and he is even afraid to go down the doggy ramp. I think it's because a cataract clouds one eye so he can no longer judge distance and depth. He has fallen on the steps several times and when we get him on the ramp, he tends to leap and tumble. I worry that he will get hurt.

We have tried various approaches. I've tried a couple different halters thinking that I would have better control of him. I've tried bribing him with treats, and Frank and I have tried pushing, pulling, and blocking him. Nothing works.

The other day he got away from me twice! In the morning, I used a new halter on him and was able to get him down the ramp with difficulty. He was very upset and wiggly, and after we were on the ground he wriggled out of the halter and ran across the court, through Don's yard, and into the next yard. It is downhill, however, and to get there he jumped off a retaining wall, about a 3 foot drop. This startled him and he halted in their driveway long enough for me to catch up and put a leash on him. It was only then that I noticed that my left knee was hurting. I must have twisted it a bit running after him.

For his evening walk, I decided to tempt him onto the ramp using pieces of meatloaf. He crept onto it, grabbed the meat, and then made a huge jump so sudden that the leash flew out of my hand. Again he ran off, this time circling around our shed before pausing. I managed to catch him in spite of my sore knee.

At age 14, he is practically deaf and does not hear me when I call. I don't know how long he could survive in the woods with his limited eyesight and poor hearing,

This morning we tried a new vest that has handles so that you can carry your dog like a suitcase. Guppy did not like being carried and wiggled frantically. Frank got him downstairs and walked him without further problem. But tonight we were unable to get the vest back on him because he jumped and twisted and acted like he might bite. So I bribed him onto the ramp using a piece of meatloaf but then he panicked and jumped, hitting the steps. Luckily, he bounces pretty well.

He comes up the ramp just fine. If we don't get the other house, we will have to hire someone to build a long gentle ramp, or maybe a series of steps and landings.

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