I was right about the subtle signals that I was picking up from Shyla that she wasn't feeling confident. We went to our dog training class in town yesterday, and she seemed to want to hide the entire time.
It brought back memories of how terrible I felt for her when she was almost always scared of the world when we first met her. Yesterday, just like when we met her 3.5 years ago, she held her body low, her ears pinned back, and startled easily as she constantly scanned the world for danger. Unfortunately, a skateboard sneaked up on us and got much too close. Shyla cowered to the ground, paralyzed with fear of the noisy wheels.
The difference is that, this time, I feel confident that it's a passing phase. I wonder if she's a little sick, below a level where we can note it but enough that she doesn't feel confident. Time will tell.
Shyla is our first fearful dog, and I'm learning that a dog probably never becomes truly a "formerly" fearful dog. When life goes slightly askew, the haunted look can return. I have no photos of that "look" for you because I was focused totally on helping Shyla cope. However, I can guarantee that it was nothing like the her facial expression and posture in the photos from this morning.
I am happy to report that she seemed just like her usual rambunctious self during our snow bike ride this morning.
She even "charged the camera" at one point, giving me this closeup view of her beautiful eyes! (the shadow is me!)
My trainer's suggestion was to do very little formal training with her for a couple of days, and then to see if she returns to it with her old enthusiasm. I'm guessing that she will because she grabbed a toy and asked me to tug today - a great sign!