Bella was not socialized to dogs or people. She lived in a cage. She has no confidence in herself or in the world that she finds herself in. She has only known the caged life. Estelle, the vet, put it eloquently. Bella still lives in a cage, a cage in the world. Bella is deeply afraid of everything, terrorized in fact. And she is feral. Estelle suggests that it will take a year before I will really get to see who Bella can be. She said "shoot for the moon" but accept Bella's limitations. She will likely never be a normal dog.
Thankfully, Estelle also made some concrete recommendations. First, I need to connect with a good vet. The vet can make a referral to an animal behaviorist who can develop a protocol for Bella's healing. Fortunately, living in Ithaca, I have access to the Cornell Behavioral Clinic. Bella's protocol may involve anti-anxiety medication, probiotics as well as coaching for me on working with Bella.
Although my conversation with Estelle brought me to tears thinking of the pain that Bella and countless other animals have undergone, and continue to undergo at the hands of man, I was also heartened and determined. Maybe this one creature can benefit and heal with my help. Sweet Bella, I'm going to try.