I have a story to tell. It might take days, weeks or even months. The important parts: this dog is safe, this dog wants to be friends, this dog gets to set the pace.
Meet Lady Zola. Lady because she is refined. She would wear white, elbow-length gloves if she were human. And Zola because she is a runner. On bare feet. Setting records.
After about a week on her own, evading every attempt to lure her to safety, she was trapped and brought to the shelter. One night spent there, and we all knew what we’d suspected – she was not going to thrive in that noisy unpredictable environment.
So, she came to my house to decompress and change her story from stray dog, not seeking human attention to loved & cherished pet.
She arrived on Wednesday afternoon. That night, she stayed in her crate, venturing out for food, when no one was near. Any time, I entered her space, I brought cooked chicken. I’d throw it to her, not making her work for it, but getting her to associate me with all things delicious.
On Thursday, I continued offering good food; she stayed in her crate. I sat in her enclosure, throwing chicken. And when she came forward, laid her head on the opening of the crate, closed her eyes, I knew we’d made progress.
This process is about letting the dog dictate the pace. My role is to observe, push her just a little, but always leave her wanting more of me.
You can see in one series of photos, that I left her food outside of her crate and then left the area. I returned while she was eating and she didn’t retreat into the crate. I sat just outside of her area, with the gate closed. She continued to eat. Then when she finished and went back into her crate, I opened the gate, but remained outside. I threw chicken. Eventually, she felt comfortable enough to slowly follow the trail of chicken and get her whole body all the way out of her crate while I was watching quietly. Enough progress for one day.
Friday morning (today), she surprised me – she’d ditched the crate for the comfy bed! While I threw chicken to her, she stayed put as I cleaned up around her. Then she let me sit next to her and she took chicken from my hand.
Throughout the day, she’s made the conscious choice to NOT go back into the crate. I’ve spent time next to her; she’s let me scratch her chin, then pet her head, then scratch her ears.Enough progress for day 2.
A dog, a new year, a new story. Lady Zola.