This time it lasted all of a day and a half.
I was enjoying a relaxing afternoon of gardening on my day off on Wednesday when I impulsively took a computer break, because, you know, there really might be something important.
This time, there was: an email from the Washington Humane Society about three very nervous puppies--Isaac, Pagent, and Bella--who were not doing well in the shelter and whose time was up.
After 45 seconds of thinking it all through very carefully, I emailed to say that I could take one, or all three, if it was a matter of life and death.
Meet Pagent, 6-months old, skinny, gangly, nervous, and unbelievably sweet.
Florian picked her up while I was at work yesterday, and reported that she was so scared she wouldn't walk with him to the car and promptly peed when she was in there.
He had to leave once he brought her home, so set her up in a crate in the basement with a nice blanket, food, and some toys. She was so scared of noises, people, and things that he didn't want to leave her upstairs with big scary Fozzie and Lamar.
I went online to fearfuldogs.com, bought A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog, and biked home from work just as fast as I could, knowing I'd have to spend some time working with this pup just to even be able to touch her.
In the basement, I found a huddled, stiff little bag of bones crouched in the back of her crate, the nice toys and bowl of food untouched. When I came close and saw her terrified eyes, I thought oh boy, this is going to be a tough one, one I may not be able to help.
I know the best thing to build confidence in a dog like this is to let her make her own decisions, and choose when and how she wants to interact. A few hot dogs to lubricate things don't hurt.
She wasn't interested in the hot dog I tossed in her crate, but she didn't shrink away or snap when I came close by either. Not wanting to leave her in the crate in the basement all night, I opened the crate, put a collar and lightweight leash on her, and squatted just outside. She did look at me, and slowly, gradually, crept toward me. As she approached, I took a few steps farther away, then crouched down again. She followed again. Like that until we were outside.
Then that little nose took off. Sunlight! Green stuff! Dirt! The whole wide world! Wow!
While we were sniffing up a storm, Lamar snuck through the dog door and made his appearance in the back yard.
I didn't even have time to think uh-oh, not the greatest thing to expose a fearful dog to, before I immediately saw that little thing perk up and wag for the first time. She loves other dogs! Even Lamar! And fortunately, Lamar was on reasonably good behavior.
Over the course of the next two hours, Pagent unfurled like a flower in a time-lapse film sequence, going from immobile to bounding through the grass in the backyard with mouth lolling open and tail wagging ecstatically.
What a delight to see a little creature open up to the joys of the world.
And don't worry, the shelter decided to hold on to Isaac and Bella until they can find foster homes for them too.
Welcome, little puppy-bee! I'm so glad to have you.