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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The sky is the limit

Shyla's incredible growth in trust shined during our recent trip.
When we're not in territory that we know well, we never know when we might run into a new person, a new dog, or even a speeding dirtbike with a helmeted rider. On our last trip, we ran into all sorts of unpredictable situations, and Shyla handled them with ease. She's still sensitive and stops to evaluate situations before deciding how to behave. I actually like that "thinking approach" a great deal because it prevents Shyla from running into bad situations like a Looney Lab.
On one trail, we met several bikers who had been riding quite fast toward us. I quickly ushered Shyla into a sit-stay next to my bike, and she calmly watched them approach. On one occasion, the bikers asked to meet her. I bit my tongue because my instinct still is to warn people that she is fearful and may not want to interact. I managed to stop myself from saying that -- and Shyla walked over to their outstretched hands without a hitch. She even ended up leaning into the leg of one of them, enjoying being petted as I chatted with them.

There was only one situation where she hesitated to meet someone. It was a very large man with a motorcycle helmet on standing next to an ATV. He was dog lover and wanted to meet our cute puppy, Shyla was leery of him at the start. I wasn't present but the Runner advised the man to chat with him for a little while and let Shyla see that he wasn't scary. Sure enough - it worked. The Runner says that Shyla went over to nuzzle the man's hand while the two of them talked.
When I met Shyla almost three years ago, I honestly didn't believe that she'd ever trust people to the extent that she does now. I was devastated to see how fearful she was back then. Everything in the world seemed to scare her - even us and our house!

Now, she's an outgoing and very happy girl. Just this morning, we met a hiker and standard poodle who were approaching us head-on on the trail. I stopped and watched the body language of the poodle and Shyla. As soon as the poodle lowered her tail and started wagging, Shyla started approaching in a very non-threatening way. The two met very amicably. Then, Shyla moved on toward the hiker and greeted her happily and politely.

People who meet Shyla now for the first time don't have an inkling of how amazing it is that she wants to meet them. And, I've stopped telling them about her past. I just let Shyla speak for herself with her actions, and I quietly smile at my absolutely amazing dog.
Way back in September of 2012 when we were just starting this journey, my wonderful trainer said that she believed that a day would come when Shyla would seem like a completely normal dog. She said that she believed that the sky was the limit for Shyla.
She was right.


  1. Way to go Shyla. And a tip of the tail to your Mom for doing such a great job training you

  2. We have to agree with Foley - she would never have gotten there without your steadfast help and love. Way to go, Shyla!!!

  3. Happy Gotcha Day to the beautiful Shyla! That's so awesome that she's doing so great! I love seeing her happy smiley face! <3

  4. Shyla amazes us with how brave she is being.
    I think its also in her own time.
    Beautiful Shyla, beautiful stars'

  5. Oh Shyla! We are so proud of you!!

    -Ruby and Otto

  6. What a wonderful "happily ever after" for you all!!! We adore seeing how far Shyla has come!!

  7. that's great to read what a super pup you are now... and if I would meet you on a trial I would wagg with my tail like crazy to show you how beautiful you are :o)

  8. Yay, Shyla! We are so happy for you and your mom♥

  9. She is just proof that all your hard work and patience paid off.

  10. How lucky Shyla is to have your loving guidance and patience. Helping her to blossom into the wonderful dog she is!
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  11. Both you and Shyla have been rewarded for all the hard work you two have accomplished!

  12. I am really happy for you and Shyla. I remember my journey with Brut was of a similiar nature. It was such a blessing to have a semi-normal dog before he died.

    Enjoy. You've both earned it. :)

  13. Yep Shyla has to tell her own story, mom had to learn to stop telling everyone we were puppy mill kids, cos I toles her if she kept telling it we would start acting like she let us start to be us, and tell our own story.
    stella rose

  14. It appears that your girl has blossomed!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  15. Wow! This was really good to read as I'm working with fearful girl Gatsby at the moment.

    I'm also very impressed at all the work you did with Shyla - to me the hardest part is having the patience and consistency to do counterconditioning exercises step by step by step, day after day, week after week. And I'm a very systematic person by nature, so I'm doubly impressed at your patience with something none of my friends so far seem to be able to do!

    That's a beautiful photo of Shyla diving, by the way. I LOVE how her tag, glinting in the sunlight, is readable in the photo.


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