It’s now March 29th. Ty and I have been together eight days. We’re starting to get to know one another. Still no bond like one assumes comes naturally to our ‘Lassie’ breed. Ty isn’t Lassie. I’m starting to see he isn’t any of my other dogs either. He’s…Ty.
What I have noticed is he is making slow and steady progress. He is gradually grasping the reason we go outside. Always with a leash. I can’t shake the terrible feeling he’d bolt and run off if something scared him. And right now I seriously doubt he’d come to my call. Actually, he’s still not sure ‘Ty” is him. Since he won’t make much eye contact, I can’t praise him for looking at me when I call him. Just one of the many challenges he and I have. Eye contact is brief and never close up.
In fact, his lack of eye contact and the tail that stays firmly tucked are the signs that tell me his real issues are not so much lack of leash manners, socializing, or house training. The real issues are lack of confidence and fear of everything unknown.
And his issues bring mine to the forefront. Seeing Ty a week ago brought me face to face with my issues. It painfully and harshly reminded me of everything I once had, what I had lost, how deep those loses ran within my soul. That pain, and how I coped with it, was going to have a direct impact on how well I could help Ty overcome his past. By overcoming mine too.
I sure hoped and prayed we could to this together. To succeed, Ty and I were going to have to be more than mistress and dog, we were going to have to bond and be partners. So far I was thinking it might work out eventually.
Then came March 31st. And a huge step backward for poor Ty, erasing all the forward progress we’d laid in the last week. Gone up in smoke in just a matter of moments.
March 31st started like any day. We headed outside for our morning walk to do our business. So far we’d been exiting the porch and heading to the fenced in area. I give him just a tiny bit of freedom inside the fence. It’s mostly flagstone and brick with towering pines, oaks and some maples. The area he poops is covered with lush English ivy. I don’t have to mow it and it’s a perfect spot for him to leave his deposits. So far, he’d been figuring out that ritual brings praise and treats.
Until March 31. We entered the fenced area and he froze. There were men working on the roof of the house next door. There were trucks parked on the lawn, men shouting, shovels scrapping old shingles down the roof to drop into truck beds. It was loud and it was scary. It was stimulation overload on a mammoth scale.
Ty. Freaked. Out. Oh my word, did he freak out. He could not pile himself into a small enough huddle fast enough. It was as if a thousand bombs were going off. I’m sure he wished he could have dug a hole in the stone patio and covered his ears. Standing in stunned silence, I could see his heart beating like a runaway horse.
It took loads of patience and coaxing and a strong hand on his collar to lure him inside where he scrambled madly for his cave of comfort where he quivered in absolute terror. He refused all treats and even a lunchtime snack.
Heartsick at his pain and terror, I was at a total loss at how to deal with him, how to help him. His fear was palatable. What do you do when you’d rather die then face that again?
How long would it take for the roofers to complete their job and how much worse would it get?