06 September 2010

New Family Member

A new arrival: Keira the puppy arrived on Saturday. J and kids drove all the way to Jeffrey's Bay to fetch her (about 2.5 hours drive each way.)

She arrived here a very frightened and timid little thing, petrified of human contact, eyes constantly watching our hands in case we moved to strike her. I believe that she and her siblings have suffered a neglect that borders on abuse. Not that we knew this up front... For the first several hours here she refused to leave the car. If anybody tried to approach she growled very fiercely, baring her teeth in self-defence. Eventually J managed to lift her out of the car, but we clearly had a significantly unsocialised doggie on our hands.

Fortunately we understand dogs, and particularly the Belgian Shepherd breed, quite well. We simply gave her space and time, lots of gentleness, and a good number of dog-biscuits as a means to coax her closer to us until she would take them from our hands - scampering for safety as soon as she could.

Sunday morning started with her in much the same stressed-out state, though she was showing signs of improvement almost minute-by-minute. Kate, a local friend and dog breeder in her own right, came to visit late in the morning, and immediately Keira snapped back into growley-defensive mode. Once again it was a case of simply giving Keira space and time. Kate and J sat outside where the dog could see them, while I remained inside. Exhausted and emotionally spent, Keira fell asleep on the floor beside me. At that point in her frightened existence I represented the safest person to be around.

She slept for about an hour.  Upon awakening, a near-miraculous transformation had taken place. Something in her little puppy brain had decided that we were safe to be around, that we were not going to hit her, and that being touched and petted was actually quite nice! She walked up to both of us and - although a little hesitant at first - actually welcomed our attention, stroking and petting.

Today we have a much more relaxed and happy little dog. Her inquisitive and intelligent nature shines through, and I'm sure that she will settle in to being a well-behaved, hard-working and lovable member of the family.

Welcome, Keira!

Keira is a Celtic name meaning "Raven Haired" (or so I am told.)

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