Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shy Shayna

Since the day we brought her home, we have been learning who the new member of our pack is. She is shy Shayna, and in the first days she appeared afraid of her own shadow.

As I sat at the table eating, she'd park herself right behind my chair. As I'd move about the house, I had a silent, ghostly shadow following closely. On walks, she cringed at the open sky, and under the trees, and when startled, she tried to climb up me, clinging to my thigh.

There were occasional glimpses of the dog we believe Shy Shayna will become. On her third evening with us, she stole an entire piece of chicken from the table and inhaled it before we could call her name.

But this was dog who is so quiet that we hardly know where she is in the house. Along with her pink collar (the EG's choice), she wears a worried look much of the time, and a look of sadness and uncertainty.

We know she was found on North 14. We can only surmise what happened to her. She sits on command, is house broken (except when frightened by Lily's rambunctious energy), and she walks at the heel and does not pull on the leash.

But she's afraid of the coffee grinder, and the vacuum cleaner sends her running for the safety of the room she shares with me and the Engineering Geek. She wants to be with us, but she'll creep out to check on us, and a sudden move, a hand above her head will make her cringe and whimper.

When horseplay between the Chem Geek Princess and the Boychick sent her panicked into a corner behind the rocker (apparently she'd never seen an adult woman on the back of a teenaged boy), we got her a crate. Sans door, it makes a wonderful place of safety for Shy Shayna to retreat to when it all gets to be too much.

Our cardinal rule is that we never violate her sacred space in the crate, and she has begun to relax there. Last week, she began to realize that she could "go" in the meadow. During the past weekend's snowstorm, we learned that she likes to play in the snow.

She enjoys brisk walks in the meadow, and after watching Lily a few times, she has learned to jump the chain across the new road. Lily has also shown her the joys of sniffing and snuffing at the rodent holes in the meadow, and she has learned what a treat is for. She eats like there is no tomorrow.

It is still one step forward, two steps back, one and one-half steps forward again, but Shy Shayna is coming out of herself bit by bit. She's as beautiful as her name implies, and she still moves silently as a ghost through the house.

And she doesn't quite know what to do with a ball or a rawhide bone.

I guess she'll always be wary of strangers, but she is no longer wary of us.

We've made a good beginning.