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April 28, 2013

Patience With Sheaba My New Dog

Well I finally have a new dog.  Meet Sheaba and read her special story.
Sorry it is a long one.   But with a happy ending.  Yes I am back at the ranch.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

 It has been over 4 years since our last dog Buster passed away.  Many of you may remember the many photos of him in my blogs.   Somehow  months turned into years,  but I always felt a new dog would come into my life  when the time was right.  The story of that special dog I named Sheaba began 2 winters ago while at our winter home at the Salton Sea in California.   Here is an excerpt of my post about her from my 1st winter 2012 meeting her at our winter home in the desert .

A new dog has come into my life, but she fears people.  I named her Sheaba.  She was a stray who hangs around a female pit-bull who has a home, but they didn’t want Sheaba.  She was starving with all ribs showing.  The dogs that have been abandoned in this area would break an animal lovers heart.  I could see her and the young female pit-bull were such close friends.  The owners of the pit-bull called the dog catcher many times trying to catch Sheaba  as she would dig into their fenced yard , creating holes always where their pit-bull would get out and roam around with Sheaba, but they couldn’t catch her as she feared people. She was just too smart and would never enter the live traps even when filled with food.  However the owners of the pit-bull told me they had  seen from their  window  Sheaba playing with her children along with their pit-bull in their backyard.  I thought there is a soft spot in her.  I knew she had love in her and just wanted to be loved as well. 

Photo below from the 1st winter getting to know Sheaba


So began my attempt to gain her trust. For over a month she came for food every morning and night. You can see in the photos how scared and tense she was when she came.  When she would come with the female pit-bull I would make great strides with her as the pit-bull was so friendly and would come up to me.  At first if I came outside she would get no nearer then 300 feet and then would just leave.  Or I could be near, but only thru the window of the house.  Then one day she came when I was outside working in the yard and didn’t notice she had come to the food bowl, which was only about 30 feet away. I just sat with my back to her and slowly turned for a couple photos.

One night she came with the pit-bull and I had some steak bones for treats.  When the pit-bull came for her treat, Sheaba also came and took the bone out of my hand and left immediately.  The next day they both came and while I was petting the pit-bull, Sheaba came up also and I was able to pet her briefly.  This all starting taking place only about a week before we were to head back North.  The problem was if the friendly Pit-bull did not come with her.  She would only eat and leave.  She would not come up to me to be petted.  She would however come and take a treat out of my hand.  But she would always leave immediately with no interest in getting to know me and would only return to where the friendly female pit-bull lived.

At the end I was able to sit next to her with about 1 foot at least while she ate here food.  But always when outside near her I had to be sitting, if I stood up she would run away.

It was time to leave and I know I couldn’t just catch her and throw her in a car to get her rabies shot then force her on a trip for 3 days to a strange place before even having gained her trust.  So I had to leave her behind and hope she would survive the hot summer on hand outs and whatever rabbits and lizards she could catch.  My heart is broken over this dog.  But life has to go on.

End excerpt from the previous winter blog on Sheaba

Winter 2013

When it right all the pieces to make it happen will fall together and this winter they did.  Sheaba is now my dog and new companion on my forest walks.  Here is her story on gaining her trust and getting her back up North to our ranch. 

My heart soared when we  returned to our winter home in the desert to see Sheaba had survived the summer and when I called her name she actually wagged her tail.  It took me this time only about a week of feeding before I could touch and pet her.  Even though she still showed a great deal of apprehension.

She was now packing with a few new dogs, but still made her home at the house with her best friend the  small female pit bull she hung around with the previous winter.  The family I learned had given her scraps  food  occasionally to supplement her diet of rabbit and what ever else she could catch.  They said they had watched her take down a jackrabbit in a high speed chase.  In my conversations with these people I found out that Sheaba had puppies during the summer, which were all picked up by the dog shelter.   However the Dog catcher could still not catch Sheaba.  No one wanted a female dog running loose who could produce more puppies.

Also I learned from the people who had allowed her to hang around outside their house that they were moving in early March.  Sheaba  would lose her home base she had for over a year and her best friend the little pit bull she buddied around with.  But by now she had picked up a few more dogs to pack with her.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie 

I only had a month left when the people moved, but in their moving it finally brought Sheaba to spend more time at our home.  First of many events to fall in place to make Sheaba my dog.   Now was my chance to get her to make my home her new home base.  Even though I fed her regularly while I was here, she always left our house to return to the other house after her meals, she never stayed until finally they moved

But now her old home base was empty  with strangers showing up doing work on the house so she soon started hanging out at our home for longer periods.  Finally I was able to spend more time getting her to trust me and be relaxed around us.  At first she would only lie for hours near the street on the corner of our property.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

By now one runaway or homeless male pit bull had attached himself to her and I was also feeding him everyday and they both were hanging around our house sometimes quiet relaxed as long as you didn’t try and approach them.  I named the new male pit bull Bob after calling him balls for awhile as he was an unneutered male with a big set of you know what.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie


Bob would never let me touch him but took food from my hand.  He was the first to back away when I first started to bring out a leash and collar.  Bob is another story that breaks my heart,   but I have learned I can’t save all the dogs there.   Sometimes Bob made my work with Sheaba harder as he was always telling her not to trust me even though I could see she wanted to.  Just to get a collar on Sheaba for the first time required clicking it for days near her and always having it present in my hand when feeding treats, but at least at this point they were laying around on our patio and allowed me to walk past them without them running away.

So finally the day came when I could put it around her neck and click it closed.  I had to be so patient and take it all so slow.  A day after putting the collar on I decided to restrain her holding it.  Big mistake….She went into full blown fight to get loose of my grip.  I realize now I would have to take baby steps to get her used to having the collar pulled and pressure put on it.  So every time I pet her I would just pull lightly on the collar.  By now she was allowing me to brush her.  Next thing I needed was a cage to put her in as we needed some way to confine her in the beginning when brought in the house.

I tried on many occasions to lure her in the house, but she would not go through the door.  While visiting a friend I spotted on old dog kennel just the right size on their property and asked if I could borrow it to try use for Sheaba.  So the kennel was put outside for her to get used to be around.  She never went in it.  However Bob slept in it often.  I could have caught him, but then again without ever having touch him what would I do to earn his trust then.  Bob and her were becoming inseparable.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

Another event was presented that pushed me harder with Sheaba.    A mobile spaying unit was scheduled to come near our area.  There are so many dogs that run wild in the whole area that this unit makes it round spaying females that can be brought in for free or donations only.  The weekend arrived and I just couldn’t get hold of Sheaba yet.  The collar would slip off if I tried to grab it.  My heart just sank as another opportunity had been missed.  Just 2 weeks now to leave and Sheaba was in heat again so she would often be gone for long periods.  There was now another pit bull hanging around her.  Yes the majority of dogs in this area are Pit bulls and Chihuahuas.

I was so heartbroken, then a friend told me the mobile spaying unit was going to come back again for a second weekend.  I went to work with Sheaba now getting her used to having the leash slipped through her collar getting her used to the pressure of it being pulled and taking baby steps with her.  Finally walking a whole 3 feet before she would start to panic.  I had also pushed her into the cage a couple times getting her not to fear it.  I think during all this she was so easier to work with as she was in heat, another event that just made everything else happen.

The dogs fights began to happen outside our home and Sheaba was getting exhausted from the male dogs trying to mount her constantly.   One night only 2 days before the next chance to get her spayed arrived.  I went out and eased her into the kennel and close the door for the 1st time on her.  Got my hubby out and we carried it inside the house.  At this point she was so exhausted and happy to be away from the male dogs and relax, she put up no fuss with being caged at last.  Another event where she didn’t have to be traumatized.  The 2 male dogs laid outside for over almost a week.

We had to carry Sheaba in the cage to the car and take her somewhere else 3 times a day for her to be able to go to the bathroom without the other dogs around.  The first couple of days, we had the other dogs circle us while carrying  the cage with Sheaba to the car.  She always laid in her kennel like she was the queen just ignoring the male dogs and staying calm.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

While in the house she was always kept in the kennel and seemed to feel safe there.  Because we had to take her elsewhere 3 times a day for bathroom breaks she got used to riding in the car and visiting strange places and walking freely on the leash with me which prepared her for our trip home and her trip to be spayed and get her shots.

Only a day after capturing her we took her to be spayed at the special mobile spaying clinic.  She was handled by someone new for the first time when they had to carry her inside the unit.  They asked does she bite and by now I was pretty confident that she wouldn’t.  I walked with her as she was carried inside and put in a waiting cage for her surgery.  She was the best dog ever during all this.  We picked her up in the afternoon and she slept through till the next day.

We had to continue to take her in the kennel to the car and go to another location for her walks.  Wasn’t so easy the first time taking her for walks either,  but by now I had bought a proper leash that slipped over her head so she couldn’t pull away and get loose.  Soon she was walking with ease with me.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

Hubby as this point had spent no real time with her and hadn’t bonded yet so I thought he needed to begin taking her for walks as well.  She now would have her tail tucked again and have fear in her eyes.  She would walk ok when I was in front and she was walking towards me, but when I stopped and was walking a different direction she would start to panic.  But after much patience by the end of the walk she was walking alone with hubby  with ease.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

Only 1 week after capturing Sheaba we were on our way back North to British Columbia and our ranch in the mountains.  What a change from the desert.  By now she was well used to traveling in the back of the truck in her kennel and stopping in stranger places for walks and pee breaks.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

As the weather got colder I wrapped her kennel in a quilt to keep her snug during the trip and nights alone in the truck.  Well she was never completely alone she had her little stuffed rabbit with her the whole time.   She was the best dog during the whole trip.  Even taking her for a walk in downtown small towns.  She would be afraid, but would always stay by my side and look to me for confidence and support.  I was now her Alfa dog.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

Back at the ranch finally and Sheaba got to experience a couple of spring snows.  It was a couple days of walks on leashes and having to be tied up outside for periods to be sure she wouldn’t run off at her new home.  Though she could now roam loose in the house if she choose, she prefers to stay in the kennel always while in the house, it has become her safe haven.

She is still fearful of so many things.  I can’t even throw a ball without her fearing the hand going with an object in it.  She has had so many rocks thrown at her.  I even witnessed it once.   She is fearful of anything hanging over her like bird feeders and chimes.   She is fearful when we bend down to pick up branches in the yard as she thinks we are getting something to thrown at her and runs away.   Some people just don’t understand how slow and careful I have to take everything with her.

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

Free at last to run again.   I first let her loose in our garden area as it is fenced and we were working in there and realized she hung by my side like glue so afraid of everything.  So after an hour in there we walked freely  to the barn where I knew she previously wanted to go inside to investigate as lots of mice and other creatures were hanging out.  I took her up the steep stairs to check out the loft.  Well it took some major coaxing to get her back down the stairs, but she finally did it.

Now she was free on our walks, I often would only catch glimpses of her as she runs like the wind through the forest always thinking she would run off, but she would come back to me then be gone again.  I remember watching the dogs she packed with how they always waited for the dogs to all come and stayed together.   So for her I am her new pack.  She is always with me wherever I am outside from burning fields to just hanging out while I am working in the yard.

Hubby had trouble taking her for a walk, I have to get her and put her leash on and she doesn’t want to go at first, he has to pull a little.  Then  once he has her away from the house he can let her loose and she will also follow him coming and going exploring the area.

Poor hubby still can’t walk up to her without her backing away.  I keep telling him it took me 4 months to get her to trust me.   And he refuses to squat down to the dogs level.  Sheaba really fears anyone standing.  Took me 3 months to be able stand next to her.  I always had to be sitting or squatting when feeding her or giving her treats in the beginning.  I still can’t get near her if I have something in my hand besides her leash which she knows well now. 

Photos by Here I Am Carrie

With her freedom I now feel comfortable making her learn basic instruction like sit, stay and walk beside me on leash.  She can now do all these things very well after only a few lesson.  In fact way too good.  But the lessons have to be kept short so it will always end on a good lesson for her.   But as soon as she is free off the leash she doesn’t listen to a word I say.  But that’s ok for now we are just beginning.

For fun the only thing Sheaba seems to enjoy is being chased in the yard.  She hides behind bushes, then darts out and loves for me to chase her.   I also remember her playing chase with the other dogs.  She was always the fastest so I think she loves showing off.  She gets  plenty of exercise on her 2 walks a day.  One with hubby and the other with me.   She runs free on her walks so covers many miles during our one mile walks.   Boy am I going to get in shape again walking everyday.  She never wonders out of the yard or surrounding area when left outside alone.   She also keeps busy outside around the yard chasing squirrels and soon she will keep the marmots from moving in close to the house.  She is used to traveling with companions always like the other dogs so only goes when we go.

Sorry for the length of this blog, but I always like to get the whole story out while I have a chance.  We have only been home a couple of weeks and so much outside work lies ahead of me.   While at our winter home this past few months we mostly worked on landscaping and creating more patios areas.  We did no hiking or adventures.   Most of my energy and spare time was spent on Sheaba while there as well as an invalid friend I tried to visit as often as I could.  So I won’t be blogging about our winter there as it mostly a repeat of last year, but with less adventure and fun.

I am just too busy right now with other things and would rather spend the extra time visiting all my blogging friends who I have missed all winter visiting your place.  I did want to add also my Google reader is gone,  so many of you I have lost your feeds to your blog from word press.   I do have comments from before I can track you down again and find a new feeder to use.   I did really like the reader however.

Also I never did get a new camera this winter as other expenses came up that put it out of my budget like a new laptop and a $500.00 dollar vet bill for our cat who in the end I figured was getting urine infections from the cat litter once I changed brands the infections cease to reappear and extra expenses for Sheaba to be spayed and shots.   Love my new laptop.  Just haven’t got it hooked up to the internet at home yet as I need to get a wireless router and that may take me months before I get one.  Till then I am just transferring files to and from my old laptop as it is kept hooked up to the modem.  Anyway enough talk and typing.   Just so happy to be back home in the mountains with Sheaba.  Will be stopping in over the next few weeks to see all my wonderful friends here in the blogging world.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Spring or Fall
and have a
Good Morning…Good Afternoon… Good Night
What ever it is to you.

Photo & Words
Here I Am Carrie


Penny Whiteway said...

What a wonderful, heartwarming story, Carrie. You are , indeed, a truly good person.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Welcome back Carrie and Hello Sheaba.
I remember you telling us about Sheaba. She is a beautiful dog, and will soon get rid of her fears. No one will terrorize her now.

Nancy J said...

Carrie, a wonderful story told with love and care in your words.Sheaba was absolutely meant to be with you, and in time will feel so safe and secure. Slowly will be the way for some time.Her photos show how far she has come since a year ago, fillging out those ribs, playing, and maybe her first paly in the snow.Take care, the 3 of you, you all have love in your hearts. Fond greetings, Jean.p.s. welcome back...

Mei said...

You have a very kind heart Carrie... lovely words. So happy to see your new post. I am posting too... what for... do I know... do I care. Have a Happy Tuesday Carrie. Mei

What Karen Sees said...

How lucky Sheaba is to have found you! And what a wonderful lesson for all of us, to show patience and kindness and look for that spark of love in all those we come in contact with, in addition to stray dogs. My daughter and her family adopted a dog who is also very fearful of all adults except her immediate family and displays many of the same behaviors as Sheaba. I'm going to send her a link to this post for her to read.
Glad you are safely back to your ranch and hope you have a wonderful summer. P.S. Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog.

Gayle said...

That is a beautiful story about the time and effort you put into saving Sheaba. I can't believe the numbers of stray dogs. I am surprised they don't dart them to clean up the area as dogs running in packs can get dangerous. She will be a great companion for you in the mountains.

Dana G Kunz said...

LOVE this story Carrie! I really think you should make this in to a book! Awesome!

sara said...

What a lovely story. Thank you for saving Sheaba!

Lisa RedWillow ~ a Beauty seeker said...

She is beautiful. Loved the story.

Im too busy to write right now. Cant wait to cut grass and garden all day .
Love and Hugs

oh and I love each photo.

Rick said...

Welcome back up north, Carrie. We just got back 2 weeks ago - how the time flies.

Heartwarming story about you and Sheaba. Sounds like you're now friends for life. It'll be interesting to hear about her reaction to her old haunts when you go back down south.

GreatGranny said...

I so enjoyed this heartwarming post. I love a happy ending.

GreatGranny said...

I so enjoyed this heartwarming post. I love a happy ending.

Becky said...

What a treat of a tail!! ;)

Kiran palwasha said...

Welcome to the new doggy Sheaba in your life, nice name. The photographs are great.

Carrie, i am happy to have you my friend, as i enjoyed your three of blogs much. I liked the way your outlook towards life and nature.
Just keep it up the great job. I wish you all the best time my friend.

Daniel LaFrance said...

A match made in heaven. Thank you for taking the time to write and sharing the story of Sheaba.

goatman said...

Sheaba and Balls, what a combination.
You are a true keeper of the flame!

Happy Spring . . .

martha said...

Love your story, your patience and determiination. Reminds me of the story White Fang. :)

NatureFootstep said...

I liek happy endings. I hope it stays that way. :)