I slept downstairs for the first two weeks. Annie was restless at night but she was starting to sleep better so when I went upstairs I was still listening for signs that she might need something. I really didn’t want to lock her crate, she was getting more comfortable in the house and I was sensitive to her feeling trapped in a cage. I’d hear her wandering around and she started to climb up the first 2 or 3 steps, then turn around and go back to her crate. It seemed like she wanted to be with us but when I tried to help her with the stairs during the daytime she completely resisted. I tried putting my hand on her back or side to encourage her, I gave her collar a little tug, I even put the lifting sling on her thinking maybe her legs weren’t strong enough for the full flight. None of these efforts on my part were enough to get her up the stairs so I just let her be.
One night around 2:00 in the morning I thought I heard her on the stairs and sure enough, there she was about ½ way up. I turned on the hall light so that she could see better but holy cow, she turned around and ran back to her crate. The spectacle of this large dog turning herself around on the stairs sent me into a panic but I was afraid if I moved toward her I would startle her even more and she would slip. Good grief, now what! Apparently she wanted to do this herself when no one was watching. The next day I purchased some clear stair grips to put on the treads so that she would have better traction and hoped that she would be brave enough to come all the way up on her next attempt. I left lights on at night so that she could see and then I waited and listened. For the next several nights I would hear her but I didn’t show myself hoping that she would make it on her own, but she’d just try the first 2 or 3 steps and then turn around and go back to her crate.
After about a week of this it sounded like she had finally made it to the top and I came out of my room so that she could find us. I came out too soon; she had 2 more steps to go. I gently called her name and crouched down to encourage her but when she saw me, she turned around and abandoned her mission. My heart was pounding as she was turning around, but she was very careful with her foot placement and she got herself safely back down. I wasn’t sure how much more either one of us could take!
The next day was my day off from work so I stayed in my room all day finding things to keep myself busy and hoping she would come and find me. Sure enough I heard her coming up but I stayed out of sight. When I finally peeked out, there she was standing at the top of stairs looking at me! She’d made it all the way up but apparently the stairs were only the first obstacle because now she looked down the hallway toward my room and decided to go back down and tag up in her crate. Over the next hour I heard her make 3 more trips to the top of the stairs until finally she made her way down the hall and stuck her head around the doorway to peer at me sitting on my bed. I didn’t dare move, but after a couple of seconds she walked up to me and pushed her head towards me for an ear rub. She did it! We stayed up there the rest of the afternoon and when my husband came through the front door that evening he was stunned to see all of us coming down the stairs to greet him. That night when we went up to bed she followed us right up, settled into her blanket and went to sleep and has been doing that every night since.