I had the privilege and challenge of being pet sitter last week. I am an avid animal lover, though my way of approaching animals is often to “love them up.” But I have also been an avid “Bella’s Journey” blog reader and I know that Leslie has found that Bella is so traumatized that my way of being over the top loving and excited would not work with Bella. Much better to be calm, and to err on the side of less emotion. Be nice -yes, be gushing -no.
The first three days when I implored Bella to come for a walk with me, it might take 45 minutes of cajoling for her to come to the front door. Or sometimes, for the second walk of the morning, despite hours of cajoling, she would not come at all. Man, that puppy can hold it. The first three days she went 12 hours between first and second walk. Poor sweet Bella.
Then the morning of the third day, I awakened early and went to the foyer and laid my hand on the leash. And there Bella was, trotting down the hall for walk time. A big smile on my face with much warm praise “good girl Bella!” And then it was all different. She came every time I called her for a walk with just a sneak peek into the kitchen and living room to make sure no one else was there. The last few days, we had 7 walks instead of only three in the first few days. Now I call that progress! Bella was able to transfer the trust she learned with Leslie to this stranger in only three days. Atta girl, Bella!
Bella also very often took treats right from my hand and I happily got to experience first hand what Leslie called Bella’s “butter muzzle.” Other times Bella would eye me with suspicion and then turn her head. I would put the treat in front of her and tell her that was ok and I’d walk away. Then she’d eat it and I came back and tried to give her another from my hand, which often worked.
It was hard for me not to constantly think about Bella hiding in her corner in the back bedroom. I kept thinking of what would make her happy, when our next walk would be or when it was time for the crunchy pig’s ear to give her something to do besides worry. I gave her a lot of treats just to help her think about trusting me. This last week made me have great admiration for Leslie and her patience, love and perseverance with this traumatized sweetheart. My whole being was more and more filled with an inner cheerleader that I hoped Bella could somehow hear “You can do it, sweet Bella, you can do it!” That along with “wag that tail of yours for your mama!!!”