EDIT: Braxton has been adopted!
Every now and then at the shelter we get a dog who is quite shy, that is, afraid to come out of kennel, because he/she is frightened by the bewildering and often noisy conditions. Just imagine a first time kindergartener hugging his/her parent’s legs and not letting go– that’s what a shy dog is like. It’s up to the volunteers to socialize with the dog, that is, to entice the dog out with treats, win its trust, and hopefully, come out of its shell and show their personality.
It’s one of my favorite experiences– when a frightened and distrustful dog suddenly changes its mind, decides that the world is not so bad after all, and starts enjoying all the good things: treats, bellyrubs, more treats, long walks, toys. A few weeks ago, I had the experience of watching Braxton, a 18 month old boxer mix, come out of his shell, and it’s been so encouraging.
I found him wonderfully attentive– at least, to whoever was walking him– while being aware (but not overwhelmed by his surroundings). He is always concerned with doing the right thing, and he’s a little unsure of his place at the shelter (dogs like order as much as we do) but he’s willing to let that go as there seems to be nothing stressful happening to him. When you pass by his kennel, his great big eyes follow you around, and he always sits quietly, watching (and probably hoping).
When you tell him that it’s his turn for a walk, oh boy, oh boy, did you ever see such joy on a dog’s face. He’s not going to jump on you or give you a tongue-lickin’ facial, but his body quivers ever so and you can tell he is happy to be with you. Even though he’s bursting with enthusiasm, he’s restrained until he knows that you can handle his exuberance, usually by talking to him or petting/hugging him.
He’s still coming out of his shell– other volunteers report that he’s doing very well, playing with toys and getting along with dogs, and he was declared a volunteer’s pick of the week last week.
Won’t you give him a chance? If you’re interested, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the shelter at 2117 E. Club Blvd., Durham, NC (his kennel is #20).