Sunday, May 21, 2006

Isla





This weekend marks a year since this little sweetie came to us. She is barely recognizable from the shy, beaten puppy we met last May. Her first eight months were spent in a home with six other dogs, all of whom bullied her and refused to allow her a moment's peace. The sorry excuse for an owner was even worse, alternating between ignoring all of the dogs and beating them when they did anything that he deemed "wrong." When we saw her profile on Petfinders.com we knew we had to rescue this little angel.

She had no name when we met her. The woman who was fostering her had dubbed her Lucy Goosey because of her enthusiasm and energy. As a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix, she has unbounding energy. She had bonded to her foster mom almost immediately, sensing that here was someone who could give her the affection and attention she desperately craved. My husband decided that Isla (pronounced "eye-la") would be a perfect name.

Understandably, she was very fearful of men. My husband took her for a short walk while I took care of the paperwork. She was extremely reluctant to leave her foster mom's side and tried to hide behind her when he approached. She had charmed him almost instantly and he was determined to win her over. His heart nearly broke when he put his hand down to pet her and she flinched, obviously expecting a beating rather than a gentle caress.

We can only imagine how stressful her first months had been. As the baby of the bunch, she had obviously never had anything of her own and she quickly came to love her dog bed, lounging in it like a reclusive movie star. She had also never had any toys to play with. I bought a frisbee and watched with amazement as she figured out first how to retrieve it and bring it back to me and, quickly, how to snatch it out of the air. Soon she was sizing up everything as a potential toy. She discovered the wonderful world of tennis balls and now will chase one for hours. She even tries to toss them in the air herself if no one is around to play with her. Last winter we watched with a mixture of amusement and horror as she played this toss and catch game with frozen poop! This dog LOVES to play.

There are still some issues to be sure. Strangers coming into the house cause her to bark and certain people send her into her crate grumbling and growling in an obvious fear stance. Most strangers become "best buddies" after a few moments, a marked improvement from last year.

She has also come to love being around other dogs. Last May she would hide behind me if another dog approached and then check behind her after it passed us as if expecting a rear attack. Now she runs to greet new dogs and loves nothing more than to run and jump with them. She is quite a tomboy and loves to play rough and tumble. Our daily walk takes us to a wonderful wooded "off-leash" area and it is truly a beautiful sight to see her racing through the trees, tail up, huge tongue flapping away (a border collie trademark). She loves her trips up there and we have to go every day, rain or shine, as soon as I get home from work.

She still craves affection and loves to cuddle up with me or my husband when we get down on the floor with her. She learned quickly that the furniture is off limits and, other than the occasional trash-surfing expedition (usually provoked by our inattention) she seems to have the rules of the household down pat.

Isla came into our lives a mere two weeks after we said goodbye to our wonderful Lady. That worried me at the time because I was concerned that we would constantly be making comparisons and that Isla would come up short. I needn't have worried. She is such a different creature, exuberant to Lady's calmness, bombastic to Lady's reticence. They both have a stubborn streak a mile wide (another border collie trait) and they share a remarkable intelligence, although Isla's can be masked at times by her immaturity and insecurity.

My hope is to bring her into the Pet Therapy program that was such an important part of Lady's life. Isla would be a wonderful Therapy Dog, brightening the lives of hospital patients with her sweet, quirky personality. I just need to get some of that boundless energy under control first!

Isla even has her own webpage! You can see it here
Read her diary and leave her a bone. She would love it!

1 comment:

liuia drusilla said...

Isla has been so lucky to find you! Give her a kiss from Panda and me :) -I've found you in the Dog rescue knitters in Ravelry.