Between our kitchen and our TV room where we kept the crates is a narrow hallway. Annie never liked going this way to get outside and after the first 2 days she flat our refused and would go the long way around every time she went out, came back in or went to the kitchen for her meals. We assumed it was because there were 3 doorways in addition to the entrances on either end and she didn’t like doorways.
We all got used to her parade through the house and most of the time I would escort her through the house when I was trying to get her to go outside. After about 3 months, she would go on her own when I stood by the back door and called her but if I was watching TV and she gave me her signal of sitting up, breathing heavy and looking into the next room, I would get up and walk with her to the back door. I found this little quirk to be charming and assumed that she would never venture down the narrow hallway. She seemed happy enough to watch me from one end when I was cooking and would sometimes lie down and stretch her chin so her face rested on the cool tile.
A couple of days after Mother’s Day I asked the girls if they would like to go for a walk, I grabbed the leashes from the hook (in the hallway) and realized their collars were still in the basement from when we had bathed them. They were both eager to go so I ran downstairs, grabbed the collars and was shocked to see not 1 but 2 big heads staring at me as I came up the stairs! Maisie always waits at the top of the stairs usually in a play bow as I get closer but Annie had gone down the hallway and stuck her head through the basement opening to see where I went. I was stunned, she had braved the hallway but this was actually consistent for Annie; she needed to do it when she was ready and with no one watching.
My son came home from college that evening and we knew that would be an adjustment for her. They had met but she was still reluctant to approach men and it would take her a while to get used to him. One evening while we were eating in the dining room with him and his girlfriend I caught a black blur out of the corner of my eye. Annie had gone down the narrow hallway into the kitchen. Maisie was laying in there while we ate and I think Annie wanted to make sure she wasn’t missing out on any after dinner treats. When she confirmed that nothing was happening at the moment she turned back around and went back to her crate. She had successfully avoided the dining room where my son was sitting and had been able to check on us from a distance. She was getting more comfortable in the house!
I know it doesn’t sound like much, Maisie had full reign of the house and skipped from one room to another without any hesitation but Annie contemplated every move she made, where she was going, was it safe, would it be just like it was the last time? Her safe place was her crate and it was as if she took a risk every time she ventured out.
About a week after her hallway walk my daughter and I were in the basement installing a new cable box. Of course this was taking far longer that it should and there was a fair amount of frustration (expletives and threats towards the cable company) expressed while we were down there. Maisie was asleep on the couch, completely ignoring my outbursts but to my complete surprise Annie came galumphing down the dark and steep staircase to join us. I had always taken her through the outside entrance and never considered trying to get her down that staircase, it was off of that narrow hallway and it was also steep. None of our other dogs attempted this in their senior years and I saw no point in trying to get Annie to try. Once again she amazed me with her determination to take things at her own pace and by herself. Slowly, very slowly, she was trusting that this house was her house and she was safe in these four walls upstairs and down.