Yesterday, I told you a little about R's year in review. I did a similar thing for Shyla, going through the photos that I've taken of her this year so I could make our calendar. Of course, that led me to think about how Shyla has changed this year.
For Shyla, it was a year of incredible growth. Shyla seems to finally understand that she's always safe with us. We'll protect her and love her no matter what - and I think she knows it.
But, with that confidence came an independence that was sometimes wonderful and sometimes scary. On the good side, she could sit in a "stay" apart from me in a strange place without getting scared. She'll also allow people she knows to take her leash and walk away from me. That's a huge step for a dog who was so fearful not so long ago.
|On the Continental Divide in early July|
However, on the scary side, Shyla also started testing the limits of her independence during our mountain bike rides. I went through a period of stress when I wasn't sure how to handle her new-found independent behavior that I feared would get her into trouble.
I should have called our trainer right away but I felt "certain" it was a teenage phase that would pass. I was wrong. But, after finally asking for help from our trainer, we were back on track. Shyla's behavior is now even better than it was before her rebellion.
|Autumn - the time when we found our groove again|
Somehow, after K's death, I forgot that it takes a while to build that kind of mutual trust. I think that Shyla and I are growing a bond that is very strong.
The next photo is an example - but I have to tell you a story for you to understand. Shyla has learned all sorts of silly cues for my photography. When I want her to stand in a certain spot, I point at the spot and say "paws", which means stand with your front paws in that spot. When there's a pretty sky, I point to a boulder and say "up". She climbs up and stands patiently while I take photos.
Recently, the most amazing thing has happened. She started anticipating what I was going to ask her to do - so she just does it, without a word from me. For example, I wanted to photograph her on a boulder the other evening. All I had to do was unclip her leash, and she hopped on the boulder without a word from me.
|The most spectacular sunset of the year|
I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness that Shyla found her way into our lives. She's brought us such joy.
I'd like to give away one "Romping and Rolling in the Rockies" calendar, to show my appreciation for your support. On Friday (12/19/14), I'll randomly draw the name of one commenter from this post. If you'd prefer not to be included in the drawing, please say so in your comment. Thank you!