Yesterday I saw Shelby again, the female Rottweiler, who’s leg was amputated due to an animal trap injury. Anice, one of the volunteer walkers came inside with Shelby. She needed some help to put the Elizabethan collar back on Shelby and I was there to help. Anice told me that Shelby is really fearful. “Shelby doesn’t even want to go outside for a walk. As soon as I took her outside, she tried to pull me towards the door. Then she layed down on the ground and didn’t want to move. I feel so sad for her.”
Wow, that dog really must have had a bad experience. When I put her back into her crate, Shelby turned around and layed her head on my thighs. I stroked her head several times and I could feel that Shelby felt safe.
Today I returned to the shelter with the intention to walk Shelby. When I opened up the crate, Shelby stood up. I took off her Elizabethan collar so that we could go out for a walk. Yeah right! As soon as I opened the door to the outside, Shelby “hit her 3 breaks”, meaning she bocked like a goat and I couldn’t move her forward. I grabbed the leash a little bit shorter so that I could lift her up and give her a tug. She moved forward a little bit but when we were outside, she layed down on the door mat. I tried to get her up again, but Shelby was so scared, I could see her panting heavily and her eyes were filled with fear and insecurity. So rather than pulling her any further, I just stayed there with her for a few minutes but her state of mind didn’t seem to improve. Considering that this dog didn’t know me from Adam, I decided to put her back inside. After all, it was already dark and this is not the time to get a dog through her fears.
When I was standing in front of her crate, I noticed that she was bleeding. I asked one of the techs about her bleeding and I received the answer that they noticed that she was bleeding earlier. “Let the vet take a look at her.” was the answer I was given. I lead her to the vet’s office and after looking at her chart, the decided that it was time to pull out the stitches. I left Shelby in the vet’s office and McKenzie handled her from there.
When I saw the fear in this dog, she had me. Right away I knew that I needed to help this little dog. After all, in this disposition Shelby isn’t even adoptable. If she gets into the hands of people who feel sorry for her, she will stay trapped in this fearful mindset until the rest of her life.
We humans have the capability to feel empathy for others. And many times it helps to share empathy with other human beings. But animals – dogs – don’t need that empathy. They don’t need us to feel sorry for them. They don’t need to hear our baby voice. Empathy, feeling sorry, being fearful represents low energy. And if we want a dog to overcome their fear, their insecurities, we have to be calm and assertive. We cannot feel sorry for their situation, we cannot feel sorry that they are living in a small crate, we cannot baby them and smother them with affection and love. When we do that, we keep them trapped in their insecurities and fears.
Shelby doesn’t need anybody who feels sorry for her and who wants to give her affection and empathy. Shelby needs a leader who believes in her, who believes that she is a strong, confident dog. After all, she cannot be that weak because if she was, she never would have made it through the ordeal of walking with an animal trap on her leg for days and surviving a difficult surgery. She is a strong dog and she needs someone who pulls her out of this body of fear. Am I the right person? I don’t know yet but I sure could try.