Friday, February 10, 2017

Family Dogs - Shilah

Let me introduce you to Shilah who is a dog who came originally from North Carolina. She was saved from a kill shelter by a New Jersey group and brought to PetSmart for adoption. Our son’s family adopted her. The rescue group drove a Winnebago camper to the kill shelter and saved as many dogs they could for the trip back to PetSmart.

A month prior to Shilah’s adoption our son’s wife lost her father after a long illness. Her father, a proud American and a war veteran, was an avid animal lover and supporter of the ASPCA. The family thought their adoption of
Shilah felt like a memorial to her father who was interned in a military ceremony. The family affectionately referred to Shilah as their little soldier who is always ready for battle!

The information on Shilah indicated the adopted dog was an Australian Shepherd mix. She does not look like that breed. Her body type suggests Chow and her ruff fur, black tongue and curled-up tail strongly suggest that heredity. True Chow behavior usually means dog and people aggressive and not friendly.

The first time I met her she tried to attack me for entering the family home. If I tried to pat her head, she would snap at me. Didn’t this dog know I’m a family-member and a dog lover? I thought dogs sensed fear and friendliness. What’s with the hostility?

Aggression and protection are part of Chow disposition. Shilah is loyal to the family members who are convinced their pet dog would fight to the death to protect them. She adores her family. (Especially since they are giving her treats all the time!)

Shilah and I have reached a point in our relationship where we somewhat trust each other. She has given me tentative approval to enter her home to visit without being attacked. I sense she struggles with that approval like she’s still debating the thought of attacking me. She still barks like crazy, but I stride into the house undeterred by her outburst. I found that to be the key: pretend you are not afraid! I weigh at least a 150 lbs. more than Shilah. That must count for something in this version of a David versus Goliath clash of wills.

But there’s not much solace in that referenced battle since David was the victor. Bigger is no guarantee of success.

Shilah gives “kisses” on command, usually a slight brush of her nose against your face. Our son suggested a man-dog bonding, a kiss from Shilah and then offering her a treat. Uneasiness once again washed over me. Would Shilah use the opportunity to take advantage of the closeness? Would she bite my nose with that kiss?

Well it turns out,
Shilah would do just about anything for a treat. Her kiss was tentative. The treat was gobbled up in the blink of an eye. And thankfully, my nose remains intact.

Have we bonded? I’ll let you know after a few more visits!

February 2017

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