Returning to my Super Shy Dog

By Flavia Campos
Sunday, April 09, 2017

I had to travel and became dogless for two incredibly long weeks. I was without Elsa for more than two nights for the first time in three years! I called home every day, Elsa is being well looked after. She's at home being spoiled, while I'm running about getting important stuff done.

I haven't made any video calls, because when Elsa arrived home, she was scared of humans' surrounding noises such as phones, music, games, TV, etc. Today, she tolerates our buzz, but she still dislikes it.

Elsa, an English Setter dog, hiding her nose and looking shy

Also she is easily disturbed. In one of the few trips I had since I adopted Elsa, I arrived by train and whistled to call her, but I also had to go down a tunnel and come back up on her side of the tracks. A lot of people got off the train at the same station I did, when I got close to her, she was scared because she could hear but not see me. So, I had to calm her down for a while.

We will be reunited tomorrow, or more likely the day after, as I arrive late at night and will only be home in the early hours of the morning.

I have to prepare myself for her unique way of not showing emotions while being extremely sensitive. Elsa was a pretty shut down dog, a shadow of the setter she should have been. She came a long way since her adoption, she wags her tail more and sometimes she's even able to keep it wagging as she is petted. She is now playful with her favourite people. Above all she loves every person she meets.

Elsa is happy to see me when I come back home, but strangely at the same time she shows a fear of returns, if I can call it that. I can only interpret her ways as a fear of punishment haunting her from the past. She'll approach and then shut down, once she's reinsured, she will just glue to me. She will be a velcro dog for some time and show signs of stress if she thinks I may leave the house without her again.

...it can be frustrating but they have their own special ways of showing us their love and affection.
I've heard heartbreaking stories of people returning their recently adopted dog to the shelter because the dog wasn't happy enough. Shy dogs need time to build trust and open up. It took Elsa months to gather the courage to take a ball from my hands, but once she had it, there was no stopping her. She played and played throwing the ball herself and then running after it. I was in awe watching her play for the first few times!

Dogs like Elsa require patience and lots of love to understand their limitations and let them come around on their own terms. They may never be as bouncy as other dogs, and it can be frustrating but they have their own special ways of showing us their love and affection. Most people have to control their dogs, I mostly do the opposite... I tease and provoke Elsa out of her shell whenever I can.

I'm not sure what her reaction will be after such a long absence from my part. I just know that I missed her calming and soothing presence in my life and I cannot wait to see her again.

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