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Friday, January 2, 2015

Keeping the Focus

Today, after I did a snow bike ride with Shyla, I headed out on the road to search for other trails that were packed down. As I rode toward a trailhead, I noticed lots of large dog tracks crossing our "main" road. The tracks were big enough that I stopped to check if they were mountain lion tracks. The elongate paw shape and long blunt nails told me it was a dog.

After checking out the trailhead, I turned around and retraced my route toward home. In the area where I'd seen all the dog tracks, a large tripawd husky mix ran across the road in front of me. I screeched to a halt and tried to make friends with the dog, hoping to get her home. She had a beautiful black and white mask on her face, and she negotiated the deep snow with grace despite having only one hind leg. Unfortunately, she was skittish and wouldn't come near me to let me help her.

So I pedaled home, and I sent out an email to our local network asking if anyone knew about the dog. I quickly received a reply, and someone the dog trusts went to find her. I later learned that she's being fostered while some individuals try to find a home for her. She lost a hind leg to a coyote snare as a very young dog, had a bad early life, and is just learning to trust a few humans. She's only two years old and has lots of potential. The final question was: Did I want to adopt her or know anyone who would like to? That was a surprise.

Sadly, the answer has to be "no" to us adopting her. We can't handle another dog who has socialization and fear issues. Shyla needs as much attention as we can possibly give her. Even if we were looking for another dog, we don't have the energy and time to work with another fearful dog who needs socialization. But, the whole scenario tugged at my heartstrings.
I've written frequently about how far Shyla has come in overcoming her fears. And she has. But, the truth, I've learned, is that deeply ingrained fears don't just evaporate and disappear without a trace. I still stay on my toes all the time, watching out for dogs who might bully her or people who might accidentally overwhelm her. These incidents still leave lasting marks on Shyla although I try very hard to prevent them from happening.
Just this morning, we saw a dog who has snarled and snapped at Shyla in the past. That dog was very well behaved this morning, mostly ignoring Shyla. But, while the dog was nearby, I went over to squat next to Shyla with my hand on her shoulder, and I could feel her tremble. It takes courage for her to stand strong in a seemingly innocuous situation like that one.
I don't mean to denigrate the progress she's made in learning to live happily in our world. It's amazing. And, I'm so honored that she trusts me (and the rest of our pack) to stand by her and help her when needed.

I sure hope that the Husky mix finds a home where she can learn to trust more humans and be happy. I believe that Shyla has succeeded on that front. We love Shyla's sensitive nature - and that sensitivity is what makes her susceptible to being fearful. We love her for who she is, including her sensitivity and all its side effects.
I wish for the same for all the dogs out there waiting to find homes. I wish we could help that Husky mix, but alas, my better judgement says that we need to keep our focus on our Duo.


  1. i hope the husky finds a great, loving home. :)

  2. Three big dogs are a lot to handle. Just sayin'...

  3. Hopefully someone will take the husky mix into their lives. Sounds like a challenge, but probably worth it. Like Shyla was for you.

  4. Hope the Husky finds that forever loving home.

  5. We can imagine how your heart was tugged at,,,, and we hope the husky finds the perfect forever home too..
    You have worked so hard to to help Shyla trust... Yes, you love every bit of her.

  6. Oh dear, I know so well ( we have been there with cats and kittens many times) how your heart said, YES, and then truthfully, you said no, I am so sure the Husky will find a loving caring family, and a home forever, After all, she let you see her, and that was probably a huge thing for her. And, just as Shyla has, she will come to have trust. Enjoy your snow bike and those times out there with Shyla. Jean.

  7. We have been in that position too, been asked to adopt but needed to say no due to the needs of the ones we already had. It is hard, but you did what is best for your girl and you.
    Mr Bailey & Hazel

  8. Yes, it is hard to overcome past fears but Shyla seems to be handling things well. So sad about the Husky, especially the darned trap that cost the leg.

  9. I absolutely feel your pain with the fear issues! Phoenix has some similar fear issues as Shyla and some days it's so not fun. I hope the husky mix finds a home soon, too!!

  10. We think you're right. You can't take all the dogs, and you know the situation with yours. At least you got in touch with someone, so the dog can be taken care of and hopefully, learn to trust and find a forever family.

  11. You're clearly making the right choice, but it's hard until you hear the husky has found a good home.

  12. Thank goodness you and the husky crossed paths in this wicked cold weather, KB. We hope she finds a wonderful home.

  13. Oh yes, those situations really do tug at the heartstrings. We have had many issues with LadyBug...being a rescue. It took her about two years to totally trust me. There are still things that will spook her and we have absolutely no idea as to why. I sure do hope that the husky finds a good home.

  14. Been a while since I've had a chance to read too much of your blog (I set myself silly goals and rules which stop me from just doing some stuff) but I love to read your writing. It's so sensible and yet conveys a lot of emotion. I always want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and life.
    Hopefully I'll catch up soon. Take care. Melon

  15. I'm sure someone will give the husky the same chances Shyla had. Is there any way you can keep tabs on her and keep us posted?

    Monty and Harlow

    1. I may be able to keep you posted. The person who knew the dog said she'd keep in touch. I'll try to make that happen!

  16. We do understand and wish we could help mote too. But we would rather help a few wonderfully instead of a lot poorly.

  17. We are sure the Husky will find the perfect home. I often see/hear stories about dogs in need and my heart's reaction is to run out and bring them home. Then my head wins and reminds me I can't save them all, I need to focus on the 2 I have!

  18. Sometimes the right decision is the hard one. That husky needs a home where it can get all of the attention it deserves and needs, just as Shyla has. I'd love to get another dog but I know it wouldn't be fair to do it if my husband isn't in agreement (not fair to the dog OR to him). I surely hope that husky's forever home is found soon, in the meantime good for you to get it back to its foster home.

  19. You were the right person for Shyla, and I hope the husky lands with the right person as well. I hope the fosterer can take care of her until the right home - not just any home - is found for her.
    Piper's early life was not an easy one, and even when she was finally safe in a shelter in AL - as a young pup - she was subsequently "adopted" and later "returned," I think twice, possibly three times. When I found her at a shelter in MA, she had been tied to the railing of the shelter in the middle of the night.
    I am not usually a violent person, but even now, it makes my blood boil.

  20. I understand your tough choice - you have a responsibility to Shyla and KB first and you're wise to know your limits. We have the same concerns with Maggie. I'd love to adopt another dog, but her fears are too ingrained to completely overcome them. It's so sad sometimes to witness the wonderful growth and then to see something so simple freak her out. I think there are just some things she'll never let go of, but our responsibility to her is to make her as safe and secure as we can.

  21. KB, I love your heart and also your wisdom for choosing to focus on the duo. There is a forever home out there for the Husky mix, one where the dog will learn about the love of humans. Hunter has grown a lot in the 2.5 yrs we've had him, but like your Shyla he is still shy and stays away from dogs he doesn't know. We have friends that have a Cairn terrier who is a bully; when these friends bring there dog over, I have to watch Hunter carefully. He often tries to climb on my shoulders and back of my neck to get away from him. Thankfully Hunter lets me know when he is scared and needs me to watch him. He wouldn't fight with another dog if his life depended on it, just his sensitive spirit.
    Sending you hugs this morning, glad it is warmer at your house than here. I'm content to just stay inside and enjoy the day.
    Happy New Year my friend.

  22. Oh dears! Well, I gots my paws crossed REAL tight for that amazing Husky mix! I hopes it gets as lucky as Shyla did...♥
    Ruby ♥♥


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