A no-treats outing

Today I had an appointment with my psych nurse. Since this environment is usually pretty easy, I decided I’d try it without treats to see how Felix did. Overall I’m pleased with how he did, given the distractions he encountered. I did have treats in my purse in case I needed them.

He heeled nicely going into the building, and we sat down in the waiting room. We were in the waiting room for about 45 minutes total. He lay down on his mat nicely right away, and hung out there very well for a pretty long time. He did try to get up and explore twice before the 30-minute mark, but I just redirected him to lying down and he did a great job.

I was even able to lean back in the chair and not really pay much attention to him and he just chilled out on his mat. I got three pictures of him on his mat in this time. Two are in the same position with me sitting upright and him looking straight ahead in one picture, and at me in the second picture. The third picture is when I was leaned back in the chair with my feet extended and he is just lying there with his head down on his mat. He’s wearing a galaxy service dog harness and on a rainbow mat.

When we had been waiting about half an hour, a woman came out of the back after her appointment and saw Felix. She immediately stooped over him and extended her hand while baby talking to him. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite ready to handle this, and broke his down to try to go say hello to her. I was trying to tell her to stop distracting him while getting Felix’s attention and reaching for my treats (in a zippered part of my purse) all at the same time, which didn’t go so well for me. I was unable to get treats out before I convinced her to leave us alone, and as soon as she left, Felix settled back down and I decided it wouldn’t help anything to finish getting the treats out.

The last 15 minutes of waiting were uneventful.

When it was our turn, Felix did a good job of staying in his down until I got up, even though the door to the back was opened just a few feet in front of us and a man walked by as my favorite nurse practitioner Tiffany was looking at us and calling my name.

He heeled nicely back to the room, and again I put him on his mat for the appointment. This proved a bit more challenging. Apparently there had been a dog in the room earlier that day, and the dog had been smelly, so Tiffany had tried some carpet deodorizer that dripped and left small puddles on the floor. So there were smells of another dog plus chemical smells all over the floor. Felix mostly stayed on his mat, but was obsessively wanting to sniff the floor really obviously. Luckily Tiffany didn’t mind frequent interruptions for me to get Felix’s attention, and we made it through. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten treats out and did some better training, but oh well. He wasn’t terrible, just needing me to get his attention every minute or so.

Tiffany only works for this office occasionally, so I hadn’t seen her for about 9 months or maybe even a year! She is amazing, so I was really happy to see her. I was able to tell her about how I have improved since I last saw her, and am now able to leave the house 3–4 times a week for short outings. I talked with her about how I was feeling guilty about being on disability and not working since I can now leave the house enough days a week to have a part time job. But we were able to come to the conclusion that while I could have a part time job, if I did, I wouldn’t have the ability to do anything else in my life. I wouldn’t be able to do any errands, go to any doctor appointments, see any friends, or do any volunteer work. So my life would be work and home, with not being able to do anything to keep up my health or wellbeing. She emphatically said I should stay on disability. It was good to hear her say that, and made me feel less guilty about being disabled.

(Brad says that even when I’m not going out 3–4 times a week, I’m still feeling and saying I’m a horrible person multiple times a day, very stressed with lots of anxiety, even when there’s no external stressor. Sometimes when you’re disabled, you just get used to all the bad stuff as your baseline and have forgetful fantasies where you think you can do all the things other people can without falling apart. Brad can remind me because he’s the one trying to help me through this all day, every day, whereas my brain just wants to forget!)

Afterwards, I was able to make my next appointment at the front desk, and Felix was good at standing there while I talked about dates etc.

Overall it was a pretty good outing. I am generally pleased with how Felix did, given the distractions he encountered.

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