Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Shy Ones

I know that whenever I'm in a new place, a new situation, meeting new people, or just trying new things that I get nervous. I feel butterflies in my stomach, my heart beats just a little quicker, my temperature rises and my cheeks become flushed. I'm not overcome with fear, but I'm pretty darn uncomfortable sometimes! As would any introverted individual.

So imagine the fear you would experience if the one you loved threw you into a small, dark, cold box in the middle of the night. Imagine the shock and loneliness you would feel as you sat in darkness for 8 or more hours when suddenly a light turns on and someone in a strange uniform kneels next to your "box" and looks in at you. They quickly take you and put you in a slightly larger cage made of concrete. The noise is unbearable, you can't relax, you can't sleep, you can't escape and you wait for your loved one to come and rescue you. You wait, never doubting that they will come for you. Slowly the days go by and you realize: no one is coming. Five days go by before someone can even come in and sit with you to keep you company in your concrete cell. Just imagine. This is how Sox arrived at the Berkeley shelter.

Imagine the fear you would experience if you were living on the streets, God only knows how long, all alone without any love or comfort. Imagine sleeping in dirt behind overgrown bushes, hunting small birds and prey to keep you alive, living off of scraps that humans threw away in the garbage or generously left near the bushes. Imagine the isolation - no contact with humans for weeks. Then suddenly you're captured; you're held against your will by a long metal pole with a strong metal link around your neck. You try to escape, but the link is too strong and you're forced into a large white van that takes you to a place that's loud, crowded, and hard. Who can you trust? This is how Bebe was captured near the Sea Breeze market and brought to the shelter.

Or even worse, imagine you and your loved one are taking a long drive in the car. You think you're going to the park to have a picnic, to the beach for a walk together, out to dinner with old friends. But when you look out the window you don't recognize where you're stop in front of a strange building, get out of the car and you're lovingly lead inside where it's noisy and unfamiliar. The person you love kisses you, gives you a hug and leads you to a kennel. They gingerly rub your back, tell you that everything is going to be okay, and say that they love you before they turn and walk away. They never come back. This is how Sasha was surrendered to the shelter.

Sox, Bebe, and Sasha arrived at our shelters incredibly shut down, fearful, and hesitant to go anywhere near people. Why should they trust these strangers if they can't even trust the people that said they loved them?

It's taken time, but Sox now looks forward to my daily visits in her kennel. She jumps into the air and attempts to lick my face to say hello. She looks forward to walks with volunteers and has come to love playing fetch with a KONG. She's submissive, very loving, and very eager to please you. Sox may be slow to trust, but can you blame her?

Bebe and I have slowly formed a bond with one another that I would hate to see end due to euthanasia and not a happy home. Although Bebe is still skittish with new people, she has begun to experience new things and places. I'm not certain how long Bebe was on her own as a stray, but I can imagine that building trust and relationships will be an ongoing process for her. But if she can warm to me with a few visits where I give her a warm blanket, a small bowl of food, and gentle scratches on her back -- I know that she has the potential to warm to others, as well.

Sasha is confused and scared and I don't blame her. She probably was thinking, "Where is my bed? Where are my toys? Where are my people?" when she was first surrendered. Upon our first meeting, Sasha wouldn't even let me in her kennel! But with a few short visits every day she eventually let me come inside to sit with her. She ate from my hand, let me pet her, and even let me take her outside. Sasha feels free outside and becomes the dog that she's supposed to be away from the shelter. When I took her to the play area, Sasha's personality truly shined! Playful, spunky, happy. This girl had a BLAST and when she tired she eagerly jumped into my lap and nuzzled her head into my arm pit.

These three dogs are not the first to arrive at our shelter shut down and frightened, nor are they the first slowly come out of that shut down state and become normal dogs. Sox, Bebe, and Sasha all are a work in progress - and work takes time. My only hope is that they can have that time at the shelter so they can find the loving, patient, wonderful homes they all deserve forever.

Within the next few days I hope to get some footage of these girls at their best.

Sasha is currently being fostered by none other than one of the shelter's favorite dog trainers: Kathy Kear. Kathy was nice enough to post some photos and comments on facebook for us.

Sasha is currently curled up on my living room floor after having spent all day on 3 pack walks. I am in love with this gentle soul and don't think I can take her back to the shelter.

Sasha- abandoned at shelter, so scared, shut down, abandoned. and I fell in love. she has been with me all day and she's here right now- curled up next to Madeline. at peace finally. please spread the word on this gentle soul. she is not going back to the shelter, but I can't keep her! needs forever home. free dog walks by me!

Sasha slept soundly all night , when I came out to greet her at 8 am- she had her paws crossed, politely waiting for me..chewing on a bone now with Benjamin, happy as a lark. This feels so good.


Pam said...

And let's not forget Miss Violet, who is coming along beautifully after arriving (and remaining)in a terrified state, preferring to remain in the corner of her kennel for weeks, rather than engaging with volunteers who were eager to help her feel more comfortable. Yay-- it is finally happening!

Sam said...

You're absolutely right, Pam! Shy Violet really has come so far, in large part thanks to your patience and the love of many other volunteers. I'll post her pictures right now!

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

Kathy brought Sasha to her aggressive dog training class on Saturday. Sasha looked like a completely different dog. In the pre-class meeting she was wandering around saying hello to all the volunteers. During the class she sat off to the side watching the proceedings, no sign of fear or angst. She's back to what she was probably like in her home before being dropped at the shelter. Hopefully someone will be interested in adopting her soon.