update September 2001!

What can I say about my little Shayla??? Never has a dog been so loathed by the Angels from God. I could never figure out what Shayla's problem was, but she had something grumpy to say to absolutely everyone.

I picked up Shayla at the Brooklyn CACC on my way back from a four day driving trip to Indiana. She had won over the CACC rescue rep, Martha, but was wary of me and highly suspicious of the AFGs.

After the five hour drive home, Shayla had mellowed a bit, but still nipped me when I tried to get her out of the car. Not a real bite, mind you, just your average "go to hell," statement.

I became SO attached to Shayla....ever so slowly, she began to warm up and we began to test her in different situations. She was really an easy foster dog, because the Angels From God ignored her completely, and ignored me everytime she was around me. Eventually, the doggie chemistry worked out, and I felt confident enough in Shayla's progress to take her on another big, big road trip. On a four day round trip ride to Indiana, Shayla proved herself to be a good girl, indeed.

By this time, my nagging Heart Bandits rescue partners began accusing me of dragging my heels on Shayla's adoption, and plotting to make her the 4th Angel from God, so I began evaluating applications.

I was looking for a very patient person, willing to give Shayla the time to warm up. When I read through Flo Ratte's application, I was impressed with her commitment, and even though she is a first time dog owner, the personality match seemed great. So, we drove out to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.....There is something about Pittsfield that defies logic.....who would think that there would be two streets named the same within one block of each other? I sat out in front of Flo's house, waiting in vain, until she called me on the cell phone wondering where I was.

When I finally turned up at Flo's, the introduction went pretty well. We sat there for some time getting acquainted and waiting for Sparky the Cat to make an appearance. Finally, the sofa began to shake, and Flo determined that Sparky was under it. As Shayla and I sat on the opposite sofa, we watched as the side fabric panel began to move in slow motion. First, a nose, then an ear, then a cocked head....and finally, Sparky's torso appeared. Curiosity was clearly killing the cat. When Sparky fully emerged, it wasn't the worst cat-dog introduction I have ever seen, although Flo was slightly nervous. She decided to give Shayla a shot, and I drove off with tears....and a piece of Flo's carrot cake. Looks like things went well so far, the first is Flo's first report.

Hi Denise!

I'm happy to say that since our initial meeting, Shayla seems to be settling in nicely. She was in a belly-up pose the evening after she came and allowed me to pet her; she's visibly loosening up with each day that she's here. It took her an extra day of walking and car-riding with my daughter before she allowed any petting; Shayla had given Heather a growl/bark when she first tried to approach her - now they're pals. She's had perfect manners with my friends and their children, including the fiesty 7 year old who just ran right up to her and claimed her as her own despite the warning to proceed with caution. She DID have a major problem with a male friend who came to visit - she put out her most threatening warfare for him, but settled after some time (crate time) She may have sensed his fear of dogs....who knows.... We'll have treats on hand for the next visit. She's done well on walks out at the lake and in the neighborhood when she meets other dogs and people; even the tall stranger (man) who cautiously gave her a pet. (She managed a little growl for the 'slipper-sized' fuzzy pup who was leaping in her face. )

Speaking of caution, that could be Shayla's middle name. Up till today she seemed to cautiously enjoy petting and belly rubbing - kind of a tolerant look and stance. Today, however, she DANCED and PRANCED like a little show-pony when I came home and had no reservations at all . She's certainly not shy about 'pawing' for attention - what a sweetie. She's come a long way from her first night's pitiful, mournful howl. She's incredibly easy to correct; sometimes just a look will do it. She no longer growls or barks at the cat, but rather, asserts a playful stalk (kitty's not ready to play!). Thankfully, Shayla stops mid-chase with a couple of threatening "NO!'s" and sits at my feet looking up with an "I didn't mean it - I lost my head - please forgive me" look. Which of course, I do - who could resist that expression. The potty-training's coming along. She's had a few no-problem days and a few not so good ones - We're both learning in that department. At least she's been good enough to pick one spot on the LINOLEUM! All-in-all the first week has gone well. Thanks for entrusting us with your little darling - I'll keep you updated.


update September 2001:

Hi Denise, It's been a long time since I've given you any news on little Miss Shayla - three whole months! It's seems like there's so much to say, so I'll start with some of the everyday aspects of her new life.

When you left her with us in May she had a crate set up in the back room for practical reasons, and that was the intended bedroom for Shayla; it seemed too isolating that night on she has slept in her crate (which she loves) in my room. She's progressed from having a closed crate at night to an open door policy. She trained HERSELF so well that I can't go in my room near the bed without her scooting right into her crate- she'll just lie there and look at me like - 'is it bedtime?' Normally she stays in the crate all night with the exception of one LONG night when she was restlessly in and out of the crate all night long. It wasn't till morning that I realized she was SHIVERING. That's right, the ESKIE didn't tolerate the window fan being left on during a cool night. The poor little sweetie warmed up within 5 minutes of a hairdryer treatment and is now enjoying improved climate controls for her consideration. Sometimes she's aptly called Queen Shayla.....and she is queen....As a first time dog owner it still surprises me just how much I love this little creature.

Remember she was underweight at 18lbs? Well, we had a problem with food for a while when she first came. She appeared to be forcing herself to eat one little piece at a time and had not put any weight on by her first Vet visit, but was holding at 18. I remembered you saying she had a hearty appetite, but she just WOULDN'T eat. Once I switched her diet from Wellness food to Dad's, the finickiness disappeared totally. From the looks of her belly (during belly-rub times) I would say she's put some weight on.

Shayla with friend Chan.

You certainly were right about needing a muzzle at the Vet's. The genteel lady vet voiced disappointment when I mentioned she may want to muzzle her and she really tried to continue the exam using soft tones and was obviously taken with The Shayla; that admiration quickly turned to a look of fear necessitating calling in reinforcements of staff who were fearless and were good with her with the muzzle ON. At one point Quick-draw McGraw made one smooth sweep of her paw and nailed that muzzle with her claw yanking the bright red cloth right off her nose before anyone could anticipate what she was up to. Fortunately, there were no casualties as Shayla was just smacking hands dolphin-like with a partially opened mouth - no real biting attempts. But the SPEED of her movements kept us all respectfully on guard. She left with a clean bill of health with the exception of heavy tartar on her teeth for which she will eventually be put-under to have cleaned. The vets last words to me were (and with a worried look on her face), "and how is she with YOU?"

Overall, things have gone well, but not without mishaps. Put a new dogowner and a skittish dog together and what can you expect but an occasional slip-up. : ) First, I have to tell you that it took ME longer to trust her than the other way around. You remember that nip on our first meeting when we forced her beyond her comfortable boundaries; well, needless to say, I was the cautious one till we tried and succeeded at many new experiences. After you left I had MORE than second thoughts about having a dog, even after having considered it for months; I didn't even think I'd like this dog that nipped me. Happily, now, there is no fear whatsoever - I have to be careful not to squeeze her too hard at times out of sheer affection for her and her sweet ways. It was just a matter of trust and time. There is nothing she wouldn't let me do now. Bath times are something I enjoy giving to her and something she submissively tolerates. Trimming her nails was my last brave feat of accomplishment with her - she's SUCH a good girl even when she's not sure. Grooming goes well, though I get my share of nose-butting on my hand when thigh snarls need attention, but it's accompanied by a plaintive sound and pitiful eyes that seem to say "I'd stop if you'd stop".

Shayla's escaped several times, but not far or long. The first time was within the first month. She jumped OUT the car window when I was getting gasoline. She just leaped and ran behind a parked car that was now backing up. Fortunately, she'd learned to flatten out dead-like when I yell her name with a panic, so she was easy to get back. Two other times I had attempted to let her 'loose' in the house for several hours during which she made massive messes. By the time I came home she was in a frenzied state and BOLTED out the door as soon as it opened. She runs like lightning - it's incredible the speed she has. Several hollers brought her right back, but, from what I can see there'll be no free-time when I'm not home.

There seem to be some things that are simply incorrigible and to be anticipated and accepted as 'doggy' things. One is the garbage: I swear she has finger attachments on her nose as she is capable of undoing the most done bag - Oh! and she has a penchant for tea bags(and there are lots of those). She doesn't eat it really, but busts it open and leaves the wet explosion in full view. The other thing is the cat box - such delicacies??!! NO correction corrects it. So... I've installed wooden shutters as 'doors' for the back room (cat room) which effectively keeps Shayla out but enough room underneath to let Kitty in, and the hook-and-eye lock keeps me in and out so we're All happy.

Speaking of happy, that's one thing Sparky the cat isn't. The Humane Shelter explains that she's stressed due to Shayla and is lashing out at whatever or whoever's there. Unfortunately, Sparky, for the first time in 8 years attacked a visiting toddler's head, just missing his eye, and leaving the famous bloody claw streaks down each side of his scalp. Not only did she have to adjust to the furry White one, but her 18 year old best buddy moved out of the house, AND she's been banished from my daughter's room since she developed a wetting problem, which means she's more out in the open now. But, believe me, SHE rules. Shayla has adjusted well to her, though she can't resist chasing her if she runs, and she hasn't learned to not go within inches of Sparky's face even after a few good swats - but Sparky CAN'T seem to adjust to all this, and has become VERY cranky. Hopefully, some extra attention will help and in time maybe she'll settle. Shayla's recently learned to sit and stay at a good distance when I pet kitty to keep the agitation down. Out of fairness to Sparky, the toddler had teased her by growling at her during his entire visit the previous night which kept kitty hissing , and she avenged herself the next day unprovoked - she'll be under lock-up for future visits.

Shayla with friend Heath.

Shayla and Bob.

Miss Shayla has been very good with people, even those she initially didn't like. She's proven herself to be excellent with small children, even allowing a herd of jumping, screaming little ones to crowd her in and pet her, and make her a part of their play. She loves my friends, but still is very protective if strangers come over. As for her behavior with other dogs, I've yet to see her back down to ANY dog, regardless of shape, size, or attitude. She even did her Shayla -Warrior Princess bit with the gargantuan St. Bernard neighborhood dog walking his owner. Shayla says she wants to get a word in here:

Dear Auntie Denise,

Thank you for all your loving care and your patience with me. How did you know I'd fit in so well here? You should see all the places I go walking - WOW! We often go up a part of Mt. Greylock for our walks so we both get a wicked work-out. And the views (for her) and the smells (for me) are incredible. Why, my human even lets me sniff to my heart's delight. She grumbles though that I always pull her down the hill, but I have to stop and go backwards to sniff things all the way back up the hill. Siggghhh, they just don't get it do they, Auntie? I'm a DOG, sheesh. Then there was the time we went to the Tyringham cobbles and I just about DIED when I got a load of those big cows. Where's the beef?? woof!! It was just when I spotted them that she accidently dropped my leash. I wouldv'e gotten one, really I would've but she let out such a noise that I just flattened to the ground trembling, and I'd missed my chance. I DID get a chance once, though, at something else ,when I was left out of my crate alone at home. Even I couldn't possibly eat all those chocolate chip cookies, but I made a good dent. hiccup! And was it MY fault I had no way out to relieve myself of the aftereffects of those cookies? My owner says there's not a day that goes by she doesn't sing 'Mary had a little lamb....' Well, at least I'm not totally underfoot, I just have to stay within 8 feet of her at all times, that's just the way I was made. Besides, I know she thinks that's really adorable. I also really get to her when I have just the right look, y'know with my ears all perky and I'm smiling looking out the car window when she gets back from shopping. ....And she thinks I don't see it when she looks at me for a long time before turning out the light at night.... I'm pretty sure she's thinking she's pretty lucky to have adopted a doggy just like me. Love, always, ShayShay.

Shayla with Flo.

Well, Denise, that's all the doggy delights and drivel I have for now. We've decidedly grown on each other - I don't imagine I'll ever be without a dog again. She's brought so much joy and makes me laugh at least once a day. Despite the dumped chocolate chip cookies, and the other kind of 'cookies' dumped, I wouldn't trade her for anything. She easily learned that beds and couches are off-limits unless invited. When I requested a not-so-barky dog (landlord's stipulation), you weren't kidding. She doesn't even bark once a day. Oh, I also have a heroine story. During a labor day picnic some of us were in the house briefly, and I commented I smelled burning plastic. It wasn't the coffee machine. Then my friend, Chan, came in saying Shayla was making noises outside. Not barking, but the throaty kind of dog-talk she sometimes does and she was restless. When I went out to see, I realized that when I had turned both of the grill's burners up high and closed the cover to burn off and clean up, I had totally forgotten it on, and the side of the house felt pretty warm from all the heat generated. She doesn't miss a thing. Thanks so much for bringing her here. I'll try to write sooner so it won't be so lengthy. : )