This was my first day at Best Friends to volunteer, and I was placed in “3&4″ (aka Old Town Hall/Hermosas). There I walked some dogs, most of whom were shy (I started with Omega, who is quite possibly the cutest little round bug of a dog ever). I loved the dogs immensely in this area, and most had special requirements, such as not touching at all or making sure not to touch a certain area such as legs or paws. Part of this bunch was Eiffel, who was quite shy but full of energy and ready to *walk*! So I asked about taking her on an outing and sleepover adventure, and we took off at 11:30am. In celebration of Petfinders “Less Adoptable” week, I’d like to introduce you all to Eiffel, a shy dog at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. (Note: Eiffel does not yet have an adoption profile, but you can contact the sanctuary for more information on adopting her).
Eiffel hasn’t had the chance to go on many car rides as she has only had a couple sleepovers (an excellent story posted here), and had been nervous getting into the car before, but her previous experience paid off because she hopped in pretty much right away this time. I hopped in the back seat myself and called her in – she lifted one shaky paw, but then made her way into the back seat smoothly on her own. Every single time after that, she hopped in instantly – even when I didn’t want her in!
After a stop back at my vacation rental (to get to know each other a bit), we took off for Navajo Lake. The lake is about an hour north of Kanab in the Dixie Nat’l Forest, and is at a higher elevation and generally cooler than Best Friends. Despite our rather awkward leash setup (flight risk Eiffel has two leashes, which I set up with double redundancy on both ends thanks to my hip pack and some knots on her end…) Eiffel was happy as a clam to explore all the new smells at the lake, especially enjoying the grass and mud. She was unsure of a family at the lake, and a row boat in the lake, but loved everything else. What was also very nice, and promising for her forever family, is that when she was unsure of anything she returned to me for reassurance (usually tucking herself between or behind my legs). And at one point I sat on a stump while she was exploring around on the leash, and I “ignored” her. Pretty soon she returned right to my side, which I think is a very promising sign.
She also has the tendency to be a copy cat! When she was unsure of what to do (how to get over a log, for example), she would turn to look at me. I’d hop over (or whatever), and she would immediately follow suit. This was also the case in the lake itself. I waded in, and she followed me in on her own accord. She was surprised by the water, and splashed around a bit, shook, took a few licks, and even put her paw out almost in a swimming manner.
(I have a video of her using her arms to reach out into the water – I’ll try to post it here later).
After the lake and a bit of a rest we went out for a jog. She did very well, and settled into a pace and ignored any of the potential distractions along the way. Unfortunately, at 5500ft, I am unable to go more than a few blocks at a time at a jogging pace. I do believe that she would progress real quickly at feeling more comfortable in an urban setting at a faster pace like a jog or even alongside a bike. She is certainly capable of jogging or running – tons of energy and speed. She definitely wants to move at a fast pace, this girl.
Back in the vacation rental, she found a spot on the bed and did not budge all night long. Even in the morning I had to work hard to get her off the bed (her paws tried to clench at the blankets – she did not want to leave). But what was great to see was how *relaxed* she was in the morning. The evening before she would lift her head whenever I moved around the place. In the morning she remained relaxed, just watching me without lifting her head. Her breathing was slower and much more relaxed too.
For all of her photos, see this gallery on Flickr.
Eiffel is a terrific little girl. She is maybe 35-40lbs, and perfectly behaved around other dogs and fine with the person on the other end of the leash (even me, when I was a stranger). I’d reckon she’d do well in a household with or without other animals – I’d feel confident introducing her to my cat and dog for sure. She can be handled easily – I checked her gums, paws, legs, ears and she didn’t tense up at all, completely loose and relaxed. Because she’s shy, you’d want to take things calm and slow and take your time introducing her to new things, especially people (she’s definitely nervous downtown Kanab, so avoiding a ton of commotion would be ideal and gradually increase it over time). Eiffel is not nearly as shy as my dog Tigger was when we adopted her (level 10 panic!), especially considering the sleepover and sleeping in a vacation rental on the main street in Kanab with such foreign sounds were new things to her. I don’t have anything to compare this to, but taking my former shy dogs into account I thing she’ll do wonderfully in a forever home and overcome her cautiousness.