We drove straight home. I had seen how difficult it was getting her in the car with someone she knew and trusted, it would be safer if we let her out when we got home. I waited in the car with her when we stopped to get some dinner, and she picked up her head for the first time to look around. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, she was still breathing pretty heavily but at least she seemed curious.
She was awake and panting heavily for the entire trip, and when we pulled into our driveway she was ready to get out. She showed no excitement about exploring a new place. We got her into the yard and she went potty, but she was very nervous about what was going to happen. She had to go up our porch steps to get into the house. I knew she didn’t do the stairs at the other house, but we didn’t know if she knew how or was physically able. She definitely didn’t want to and she put on the brakes and sat down. Trying to move her was like trying to move a huge bag of cement but between the two of us we got her up the stairs. Now it was time to go through the door, and I was reminded that she didn’t like new doors. Again, we wrestled with getting her up on all fours and helped her get through the door. Maisie led her into our family room. I made a bed for her using the blankets we had in the car, thinking that would be familiar and I set it up next to Maisie’s crate. I wasn’t sure if we would get another crate, I was sensitive to her feeling locked up and wanted her to be comfortable. She wasn’t interested in dinner, but she did climb into the bed and started to take in her surroundings.
I knew this was stressful, so I decided to sleep on the couch in the same room so that she wouldn’t feel alone. She had always slept with a pack of dogs and this was very different. She panted very heavily but finally fell asleep around midnight. On 3 different occasions she let out a lonely howl and I knew she was crying in her sleep. She missed her pack and her home and it broke my heart. She hasn’t done that again since that first night, but it was hard to hear and it was another reminder of all that this sweet dog had endured in her life.
Over the next few days we noticed she became much more guarded and nervous when the sun went down. She wasn’t comfortable going outside unless one of us went with her. She seemed to be afraid of the dark, or that she was going to be left outside in the dark. I slept on the couch with a dimmed light for the next two weeks until I felt she was ready to be left alone downstairs. She was restless and would come up to me multiple times and breathe in my face. It seemed like she was just checking to see that I was still there so I would give her a pat on the head and she would go lay back down and go to sleep. She took over Maisie’s crate on her second day so we got her a crate with a new bed and she loved it. She would snuggle right in and spent almost all of her time in there. Even though she was restless at night, she slept soundly during the day and for those first few days we fondly nicknamed the crate her turtle shell. She would lay with her head and front feet sticking out, but when she got nervous she would pull everything in and move closer to the back.
Getting her to come out of her crate was tricky. She was very cautious and it would take several tries to get her to come out willingly to eat or go outside. She wouldn’t bark or go to the door when she needed to go out, she would just leave her crate and stare at the opening leading to the next room. There is a narrow hallway that led from the family room to the kitchen and back door but Annie was very spooked by it, she preferred to go around the perimeter of the house. This involved going through the living room and entry way, into the dining room and finally through the kitchen to get to the back door. If I didn’t catch her cue right away or wasn’t in the room with her, she would end up peeing in the entry way near the stairs. She would be hidden from view of all rooms and she preferred this to going all the way through and approaching the back door. I didn’t really care, it was easy enough to clean up, it was just that she was so timid about leaving her crate on her own. We would walk her all the way around every time she needed to go out and every time we fed her. I thought it was a good exercise for her to have to leave her crate to do these 2 things, if I brought her food to her I was concerned that she would never fully be comfortable in the other rooms of the house. We have always fed our dogs in the kitchen so we continued that with her as well.
After about a week, she would get out of her crate and lay on the floor for a bit. If I was in the kitchen occasionally I would catch her watching me through the hallway but as soon as our eyes met she would quickly get up and go back into her turtle shell. If I was in the same room with her watching TV, sometimes she would come out and approach me for a little attention and then either lay on the floor or go back into her crate. After a couple weeks of this, I really began to doubt that she would ever bond with us. I remember having this conversation with my husband and we both agreed that although we would be disappointed if she always kept her distance we were committed to giving her as much love and attention that she was willing to receive and we vowed to make her as comfortable as possible. There would be one rule for her and that would be that Annie gets whatever Annie wants.