17. Stairs are Climbed Step by Step

Sir Oliver's Granny

In 1 of my first blogs I explained how sir Oliver was able to climb the stairs up and down in the garden. There are 4 broad steps and within 5 minutes he became confident enough to go up and down. The stairs in the house to the first floor however are steep stairs. Even for me these stairs are not always easy to take with something like a basket of laundry in my hands.

After sir Oliver had been so quick with learning to climb the stairs in the garden, I was convinced he didn’t need much time for the indoor stairs. Things turned out to be a little bit different. Already for weeks I carry sir Oliver every night up the stairs and down in the morning. He has this special physical stance so I can pick him up easily, or to let me know he wants to go upstairs.

I had really no idea how to get sir Oliver to this point where he would like to climb the stairs. I tried to put my arms on the steps as if I was showing a dog how to climb it. As kind as he is, he did the same, but didn’t lift his hind legs of the floor. So there we were standing both with our forelegs/arms on the steps and not getting anywhere. Of course I was thinking in human behavior and sir Oliver tried to please me. I had to think outside the box or human mind.

Then I tried to do it with dog treats, he liked the treats, but he seemed to have no clue of what I wanted from him. One day he did lift up his hind legs to the first step. I was excited and tried to encourage him to take a few more. He took 2 steps more and than he had no idea how to get back. He seemed nervous and stressed, so I carried him to the ground. Learning must be fun and not overall scary experience.

After this little bit of stair climbing he didn’t seem interested in the stairs anymore. I figured to not push him and leave the climbing for what it was. Still thinking though of ways to encourage him when the time was right.

Lately when I carried sir Oliver up the stairs he would move his hind legs. I didn’t find that funny, I got a bit scared by it, fearing I would fall off the stairs with him. I wished he would magically start climbing the stairs.

Then a few days ago I went upstairs. We have been training him to get used to being alone, first 1 of more people leaves the room,  up to only 1 person is in the room and leaves for a few seconds up to a few minutes. So I went upstairs to the attic to give the cats their treat and that didn’t went too smooth and took more time than I wanted. In the meanwhile I was talking to sir Oliver who was still downstairs. Then I heard him making peeping sounds, almost like a dog cry. I hurried to the first floor to get myself downstairs and there sir Oliver was, almost upstairs on the first floor, with 3 steps left. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing what I was seeing.

Whenever we go up we have to go down, and thus I tried to get him to climb downstairs by standing already half way on the stairs myself. Sir Oliver would go into his ‘please carry me attitude’ and in the end I carried him downstairs. I was thrilled about what he had accomplished. He now had a goal, he didn’t want to stay alone downstairs. Once I landed him sound and safe on the floor he turned around, and up the stairs he went again. With  dog treats this time I got him downstairs carrying him the last very steep bit.

The moment I was able, I sent my daughter a text message about sir Oliver’s achievement, who was riding horse at that time. I felt like a proper granny, babysitting her grandchild while he is doing his first steps, while his mother is not around. It really felt like those first steps that another being is taking and I am part of it.

Now we have been practicing with sir Oliver, so he can climb the stairs up and down in a safe and stable way. After some walks when sir Oliver is still energetic, the first thing he does when we get home is climbing the stairs up and down. It’s such a great example of how we cannot push another life to do something , we need to let them take their time, get confident, yet be there to catch them as or when they fall.

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