Many people now don't recognize the fear that lies under the surface for Shyla. The reason is that she's very happy and relaxed most of the time.
When she and I are out in nature together, Shyla becomes the dog she was meant to be. What I mean is that she is relaxed, confident, and so happy!
She still surprises me both in good and bad ways. On the good side, today we saw two mountain bikers on our ride (a rarity). They were big guys with dark beards. It was a ribbon-like narrow section of trail, and they kindly moved to the side to let us pass. That left us about 12" to squeeze past them. I started to say that Shyla wouldn't be able to pass due to fear of coming so close to them - and, before the words were out of my mouth, she walked over to politely greet one of the riders! I love when she surprises me like that!
Yesterday, she surprised me in the opposite way. I hid some scent for her to find on the 2nd floor of our house, which is generally a "no dog" area after a previous canine generation chose to make it their secret potty place. Shyla has gone up there with me at least three times in her life. Yesterday, she was terrified of the steps. She eventually made it to the 2nd floor but not without a lot of work to help her cope with fear. After that stress, I decided to cancel the nosework. I don't want her to associate fear with nosework.
Most of the time, however, Shyla is happy. I've come to accept and love her for who she is, and I've greatly slowed my efforts to acclimate her to the parts of the world that she doesn't like (i.e., bustling places like cities). We can live our everyday life very comfortably without going those places so why stress over them?
One way that all Shyla's fear and stress issues is showing up is in her very gray face (for a 4 year old dog). This is such a happy photo so why do I have to obsess over her gray face? The reason is that it reminds of how finite a dog's life is. I'm working on seeing the joy emanating from Shyla in a photo like this rather than the gray.
P.S. If you missed yesterday's post and you like seeing bear cubs play, check it out!