Some wounds cut so deep they can never heal. Some abuse is so vicious it shatters. So it is for my dear girl, Skye (see previous posts Night Skye and Happy Dog: Skye In Snow). This month marks the second year since she came to live with me and I’m sorry to say she is still very fearful.
Don’t get me wrong. She leads a good life with her two brother dogs and five cats. She plays every day. But underlying everything is an ongoing current of anxiety. It doesn’t take much to send her scurrying under the bed (a pretty tight fit these days) where she keeps a cadre of stuffed animals for company. Bear in mind, the vet didn’t think she would ever come around to anything like a normal dog’s life, and she has done that, for the most part.
Her response to abuse and neglect is so different from Finn’s (see previous post Rescue Dog: Meet Finn (Survivor)) or Kelee’s (see previous post A Three Legged Man of the West). But a good friend pointed out recently that we can’t compare others’ experiences or how they move through them. We are all individuals and everything affects us differently. This is, clearly, true for dogs as well.
When we love, our friends, our family, our pets, we come to know and understand their sensitive areas and we make allowances. We treat them with respect, treading lightly around the sore spots. I never walk past Skye anywhere in the house without first saying, “It’s okay,” as a reassurance to her. And I know I can’t reach my hand out to pet her head. She immediately cringes and shrinks away. But I can extend my palm to her and then she’ll often let me reach under her chest and pet her. Loving gives us the patience to learn these things over time.
I was so happy last year when she finally ventured outside the front door (see previous post Rescue Dog Braves the Great Outdoors: Skye Breaks Free). But she’s only been out a couple of times since. She is very, very afraid to cross the threshold, both going out AND coming in. The last time she was out it took all day to coax her back in. Even so, I regularly give her the opportunity to go outside, but she chooses indoors and the kitty enclosure (she runs quite a fast track out there, a little speed demon, so she gets good exercise).
It has been very sweet to watch her developing relationships with Kelee and Finn. She was immediately smitten when Finn came in last April, obviously so. But Kelee had raised her; she had always been his, and he was quite jealous. It was sad to see, I can tell you, and I didn’t know what to do about it. But then I watched her figure out how to share herself between the two alpha males in ways that, amazingly, appease them. I call her “the diplomat.” She has certain games, at different times of the day, she plays with each. Oh, and whenever Kelee is outside, she waits by the front door for him until he is in. He notices that.
So I’ve come to accept that Skye will always be afraid. It’s part of who she is. But at night when I tuck her in, she offers me her tummy now. It turns out to be her favorite spot for a scratch. And there have even been a couple of times she has kissed me.
I tell her all the time how grateful I am that I found her and she lived, against the odds, two years ago. And I let her know that her personality is just fine as it is—perfect in fact. We make plenty of room in this household for idiosyncrasies. And it’s a good thing, too. Otherwise the animals just might throw ME out on the street.
Love to you all,