Monday, January 12, 2009

Something frightful this way comes

Over the past couple of weeks, Phoebe has suddenly developed a fear for the middle of our kitchen. We cannot recall any incident which would have been so traumatic, or even atypical, for her to have suddenly developed this fear. After all, the kitchen is her domain - it's where her crate is, where her food and water bowls are, and where she naps when we're away.

Now, whenever she approaches the kitchen, she stops short at the doorway and whimpers. If we're in the kitchen cooking or something, she'll just sit at the doorway. Sometimes she circles in an anxious state while whimpering, as if trying to work up the courage to enter the kitchen.

We've tried to encourage her to play in the kitchen, but it's obvious that she's trying to avoid the middle of the kitchen. If she finally decides to enter, she scurries around the edge of the room by the counters and races to the other side of the room to her crate, her paws slipping on the hardwood floor.

One day last week, I had the dishwasher open, thus blocking her path by the counters. I called her into the kitchen, and she kept to the edge of the room, slithering underneath the dishwasher door rather than go around the door, which would have meant that she'd traverse the middle of the room. Like a good trainer, I tried to associate good things with this area by calling her to the middle of the kitchen floor and feeding her a handful of treats. She ate them eagerly, though nervously. This effort, apparently, was for naught, because she remains frightened by the unseen force that occupies the middle of our kitchen.

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