I took Lyra to the vet today for her annual shots. I haven’t seen her that nervous in a very long time, and I’ve never seen her shake the way she did, poor thing. I can’t know what was going through her head, but even last year’s trips to the vet weren’t this stress-inducing for her.
When we got into the van, her first thought must have been “ZOMGDOGPARK” because that’s the default car ride destination. As it became clear we weren’t going to the dog park, she must have decided I was about to drop her off at a kennel, since that was the last couple of non-dog park car rides. It’s far too easy to decide that’s what she was afraid of, and that is going to make the next time she does need to be boarded that much more heartbreaking.
Of course, she warmed to the vet visit, as that particular crew is a delightful bunch of animal loving people, and once she realized I wasn’t going to abandon her there, she was fine, but wow, until that point, did I ever feel her fear just pouring off of her. She couldn’t get close enough to me, and her tail couldn’t get tucked far enough under her.
Lyra’s fear was, oddly enough, her Squirrel Brain causing anxiety over her future. She anticipated something she didn’t like – being away from her humans, and it made her scared and stressed. I’m anthropomorphizing all of this, naturally, and have no evidence of any of her true fears or assumptions, but my empathy has decided she had a fear of a future she didn’t want, and I was happy she wouldn’t have to realize it.