The Saga of the Stairs

/ posted in: Pets

One of the things I recommend to make older pets’ lives easier are stairs to get onto beds or couches whenever jumping is getting difficult.  In January 2017 I took my own advice and ordered a set of stairs to go up to our bed.  Powder was almost 15 and Freckles was 12 or 13.  I thought they’d appreciate a little help in addition to arthritis care since both were starting to have a bit of trouble sometimes.  I was wrong.

I offended both of them to the very core of their beings.

THEY DON’T NEED ANY HELP, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

I have changed the places where the stairs are.  I have used treats to get Freckles to go up the stairs.  Freckles is the most food motivated dog in existence but she would turn down a treat if she had to use the stairs to get it.  I physically lifted her and moved each locked, rigid limb up the stairs to show her it was safe.  She was not having it.

I wouldn’t have forced the issue if she wasn’t doing so much crashing.  She would try to jump on the bed and miss the jump causing her to crash onto the floor.  She was hurting herself.  She didn’t care.  She would not use the stairs.

It isn’t like she doesn’t know about stairs.  She climbs stairs to go in and out several times a day.  She’s fine with them.  But she had focused all her hatred on these particular four offensive stairs.

In the last few months a few times she would stand with her chin resting on the side of the bed and whimper.  She just couldn’t manage the jump.  I would remind her of the stairs and put her front feet on the first step.  She’d decide that what she really wanted to was to sleep on the floor.  Stubborn mutt.  Sometimes I’d pick her up and put her in bed because I felt bad for her.  Sometimes I’d say, “Ok, if that’s what you want” and let her lay on the floor.  She wouldn’t use the stairs.

One time she stood with her front feet on the edge of the bed asking to be picked up.  I patted the stairs.  She put her front feet on the top step and gave me a look like, “See!  These things aren’t helpful at all!”

Last month, she started to give in.  She’d ask to be picked up and I would pat the stairs and then she would use them.  She would not voluntarily use the stairs though.  I had to suggest it first.  Then one day I felt her quietly step onto the bed.  I gasped but held down my excitement.  I decided to play it cool.  Pretend it was an ordinary thing for her to choose to use the stairs.  A little while later I gave her a hug and told her she was a very good dog.  She pretended not to know what I was nattering on about.

Now, 11 months after I bought the stairs to make their lives better, I have a dog who freely chooses to use them about 20% of the time to get on the bed.  I have an old lady cat who has never even lowered herself to acknowledge their existence.  This is the normal view at my house.

 IMG_0051.JPG
 

Two old ladies on the floor not even making eye contact with the stairs and one four year old cat who has loved, understood, and used the stairs since the day they came home.

If 2017 was the Year of Freckles Deciding To Go Up the Stairs maybe 2018 will be the Year of Admitting Stairs Work Both Ways since she still insists on jumping off and occasionally hurts her bad toe.  I’m not holding my breath.  

 

—– I just heard that the husband saw her going down the stairs Tuesday morning when no one was in the room.  That sneaky, stubborn, little….