I’ve had Saba, my current foster dog, since the day after Christmas. She’s a sweet, funny dog. And she’s also shy. I have experience with shy dogs so I thought I had this in the bag. But Saba surprised me. Poor gal was so scared and shut down when I took her in that she didn’t even want to leave her crate for the first couple days. In the first two-three weeks, each time I let her outside in the backyard, it was a challenge to get her back inside. I’d have to leave the back door wide open, hide myself around the corner and when I knew she was safely inside I’d tiptoe over and quickly shut the door. A couple times I even had to open the back door, go out the front door, wait for her to go inside then quietly sneak through the backyard and push the door shut from the outside. The worst was when she’d hide under my deck and refuse to come out.
Basically, Saba wanted nothing to do with me. She was scared. My saving grace was that she loves my dogs. About three and a half weeks in, we had a breakthrough together and she finally learned that I was safe and decided she was ready to trust me. I was so relieved. Another key part to our breakthrough was me figuring out a solution to the problem of her not wanting to come back inside. I bought a tie out stake and a long lead and started carrying her outside (she won’t walk on leash) and connecting the lead to the stake. I’d stay with her to make sure she did her business before bringing her back in. After a couple days of that I transitioned to letting her out with the lead connected to the collar but letting her be loose in the yard. That way, even if she tried to run from when I got close I could step on the lead. I can now let her out with no lead most of the time and she comes right back in. We’ve made great progress together.
Over the course of the two months I’ve had her in my care she has really blossomed. She’s happy to see me when I come home, accepts my pets, sits on the couch with me and has even discovered that my house has an upstairs with a comfy bed. She thinks she’s part of the pack now. When I have people over, she doesn’t hide in her crate but instead will venture over to check out our guests. Every so often she lets new people pet her. She’s playful and really funny. She’s going to be a great pet for someone. I’ve taken her to two adoption events where sadly she hasn’t been adopted. Everyone goes gaga over the puppies while quiet, mellow Saba has been overlooked. She has a lot to offer and I’m confident she’ll soon find an adopter who is patient and understanding that she takes time to warm up. In the meantime, I’m going to keep working with her. Now that we’ve bonded, my next challenge is teaching her to walk on leash. I’ve gone through two harnesses — the first didn’t fit right and the second she chewed up — but we’ll get there!
Saba is being fostered in Maryland. Interested adopters should visit her PetFinder profile.
Image via Katie Redmiles Pierson