When I first went to meet Shayne at the humane society, we were in the meet-n-greet room together and she did everything she could not to engage with me. I sat in the middle of the floor and just looked to the floor. She slunk around the edge of the room… sitting under the chair, sniffing with her head in the corner, and almost exclusively staying behind me. After 25 minutes of this she randomly walked up to me and crawled into my lap and fell asleep. Even just thinking about that moment brings tears to my eyes… she decided to give me a chance… it was such a wonderful feeling to be given a chance by such a vulnerable creature. Even simply leaving the shelter I could see just how insecure she was (if the 25 minutes of actively trying to ‘be small’ and avoid me wasn’t a clue)… doors, stairs, thresholds, and cars (well getting into them) were all scary things experienced within 2 minutes of leaving the shelter. It’s been quite the journey over the last going on 5 years (almost exactly actually) but she’s come a very long way.
There are actually many times now when Shayne absolutely shines with confidence and fearlessness. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get Shayne to be the ‘normal’ dog that she is. There are, however, moments when the timid and fearful Shayne peeks around the corner. One of those situations was regarding jumping off anything into a body of water. She loves to leap off things and she loves to swim but those two things together used to cause her great anxiety and stress. She is a GREAT swimmer and had no problems crashing into the water to retrieve a toy, or swimming in the small waves of the ocean, or submerging her head to get a toy but jumping from a height into the water was a very stressful. We’d done a little work a few years ago to try and build her confidence but it didn’t go too far and there weren’t too many places that had the physical environment to practice.
Yesterday I went to a friend’s pond and I found a rock that jutted out about a foot over the water surface. I had both dogs running into the pond retrieving tennis balls and they were loving it. I decided to see if I could get Rio or Shayne to jump off the rock. Not surprisingly it was my crazy confident boy Rio to first take the plunge. He leapt into the water like it was nothing… it was cute he even just jumped off for no reason…again, very cute! Shayne took some convincing but after about 4 throws of her almost diving it and then chickening out at the end and walking in to get the ball she finally took the plunge. I rewarded her like crazy and tried again! I was so excited to see her leaping into the water with such gusto… she really did enjoy it. She was soooo brave and I was sooo proud of her.
Shayne started jumping off regularly about the time Rio decided he didn’t want to do it anymore… and that’s about the time I got the camera out…
And to prove Rio DID jump… here’s a photo (and a few more of Shayne!)