Most people were pretty excited to kick 2020 to the curb and get on with 2021. Part of me wanted to go back and start 2020 over again. I was starting 2021 off with no dogs, a haircut I hated, a new identity as person with ovarian cancer, and a limp from breaking my ankle in three places.
I couldn’t stand not having a dog in the house, so I started looking at adoption listings. I found a couple of dogs that tugged at my heart, but I couldn’t talk Rob into meeting them.
In early January, I saw a post about an owner-surrendered six-year-old German shepherd who had completed a board and train, and was now staying at a kennel where she had shut down and was not eating. When I sent Rob her picture, he said, with a mix of acceptance and affection, “You want to go get Bailey.”
Bailey needed a home with German shepherd experience, no dogs, and no kids. Sound like anyone you know? How many experienced homes don’t already have German shepherds in them?
We brought Bailey home as a foster, but you know how it goes. German shepherds don’t love everyone they meet, and she was extra fearful, so it seemed cruel to let her get comfortable with us and then make her go through it all over again with a new family. But let’s be honest, the deciding factor was that we fell in love with her.
She looks a lot like Isis. She’s not great with strangers and she does not want to play with other dogs. We don’t know if she’s ever played with another dog. I can accept this. With Isis, I wasted too much of our short time together obsessing over curing her reactivity. If I’d given her the choice, we would have used that time playing soccer in the backyard.
We’d like to have more than one dog in our home, but that’s not what Bailey wants. She can live a fulfilled, active, happy life without any doggie friends.
With Leo’s leash-reactivity, I mastered the string cheese method, and he did improve. He would still bark at a fast-moving bicycle or skateboarder, but not every time. He was very well socialized off-leash with other dogs, thanks to doggie daycare.
Bailey is more reactive than both Leo and Isis in some ways, and less reactive in other ways. She doesn’t mind bikes or skateboarders, but she will lunge fiercely and silently, with no warning, at a squirrel.
We’re committed to doing everything we can to keep her under threshold, feeling safe and happy.
We didn’t plan to live with another reactive German shepherd, but I know in my heart that we were the right home for Bailey. We needed her as much as she needed us.