I have been around animals all my life and loved spending time with them: dogs, cats, turtles, budgies, and fish have all found a home with me. As a child my father used to joke he was going to put a sign on our front lawn saying “Pender Zoo – Admission 5 cents.”
As I walked down the aisles of the local shelter, many dogs greeted me gleefully, and I wanted to take them all home. Then at the end of a very long corridor I saw Angel. She was pressing herself up against the back of the pen, tail between her legs and head hung low, as if trying to blend into the wall. When she finally looked up what I saw brought tears to my eyes. The most beautiful dark eyes filled with tremendous pain and sadness.
In the adoption room, Angel crouched in a corner, making no eye contact but stealing glances. Eventually she made a small, tentative movement toward me. I knew I could not leave her there. Her fear of people was evident, but why? Was she just shy or was there some other reason for her fear? The shelter knew only that Angel was a German Shepherd cross, weighed about 45 pounds, had previously been at an OSPCA shelter, was approximately one year old, and while in their care had been spayed.
I took her home. She was wary and very tentative, constantly watching every movement I made and quiet, never making a sound, not even to let me know she needed to go outside or that someone was at the door.
Any quick movements by anyone, watching baseball on TV with all the exuberant yells associated with it or any strong, loud voice, doors closing loudly, and brooms would send her cowering, tail between her legs, ears back.
The next few weeks were a challenge to say the least. I started by leaving her in the house, having access only to the living room, dining room, and kitchen. She chewed the corner of the couch, two phones, pulled anything and everything off the kitchen counter, and defecated and urinated throughout the house. We made many trips to the vet, trying different herbal remedies to help her overcome her anxieties. But the day I came home and found she had wedged her way behind the television wall, pulling it out from the wall, and chewed on the electrical cords while they were still plugged in, I knew she had to be kept confined for her own safety.
I pulled the old metal dog crate out from the basement, cleaned it up and started leaving her in the crate when I was not at home, having a neighbour come in once or twice a day to take her out. One day I came home to find Angel had pulled on the metal crate doors so hard she had bent them in so far I had to use a hacksaw to open the crate to let her out.