You see me in the shelters and the rescues, hanging back from the front of the cage, eyes averted yet alert with fear and apprehension. My carriage is the result of a story that you may never know, yet I still need your understanding. I need you to understand that:
You may not be the human for me. Although my eyes seem to plead for a home, I am not easy to live with. My progress is often measured in months and years not days and weeks.
My fears are not silly. No matter how they seem to you, my fears are real to me. Forcing me to face something that you think is silly only serves to increase my fear and adds to my distrust.
My life needs routine. More than most, I need routine. It comforts me to know that there are certain things I can count on.
Patience is not a virtue, it’s a requirement. Of all the tools you will need to help me, patience is above all.
You may need help. I am not like other dogs and some of the things that work on them may not work on me. You may need the help of people who have experience with fearful dogs like me.
Others may judge you because of my fear. People will often assume that you have done something to me if they see me acting fearful. You must be able to ignore this.
I may never be the dog you want me to be. Despite all your best efforts and intentions I may never be the dog that you envision. But I can promise you that the victories we share, both large and small, will feel like nothing else in the world.
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For those of you who have, or are thinking about getting a fearful dog; my friend Debbie Jacobs over at fearfuldogs.com has an excellent website devoted to helping you help the fearful dog in your life.