Miel is approximately 6 years old and was surrendered to a local veterinary practice after an accident at home that left her with permanent nerve damage in her rear legs. At that time she needed to wear specially adapted boots or braces to help her walk properly. Miel also has some behavioral insecurities that we’ve found and probably were the reason for the accident. She doesn’t like people coming and going through doors, and being in a busy environment stresses her—this has been identified as PTSD from trauma in her past homes. Miel has a long journey ahead of her with us as she continues to heal both medically and behaviorally.
We have come up with a working hypothesis as to why Miel will suddenly back track when you have her out on a field trip. You will be walking in a certain direction and Miel will suddenly without warning start back towards the car. It took some trial and error and studying the behavior, but what we currently think is that she’s feeling insecure (for an unknown reason) and by heading back to the car she feels more secure. Once you pass the car, you can walk in the other direction, often longer than you did when you first started walking. So, this takes planning on where you take Miel on field trips as you need to park at a location where you can walk in multiple directions in order to get the most out of your field trip with her. She’s very smart about how to control the environment to her liking! The other thing we are working on with Miel is her barking. She barks at her caregivers, most likely because she is frustrated, but we don’t know exactly what she is trying to tell us! So we will be working with her to help her be more tolerant of frustration and to relax when faced with things that frustrate her.