In late October 2008 my friend Sheryl, a softie for the greyhounds that need extra help, went to the AGR kennel clean up. Volunteers were doing a big spring cleaning (granted it was in the fall, but you follow me). Dogs were moved, walked, or taken home while the kennel was scrubbed from top to bottom. Little did I know that was the day that would change my life - I wasn’t even there.
One of the residents of the kennel was Breeze. She was a pitiful, huddling, terrified ball of trembling hound they couldn’t get out of her cage. She would flee out the doggie door and peer in through the flap while her cage was cleaned every day. If they needed to actually remove her from the cage, someone would have to enter the exterior run from the back, forcing her into the cage, so the person in the front of the cage could catch her. If they did turn her out to the main run they would then need to corner her at the end in order to catch her again. She was terrified of everything; humans, noises, the other dogs. Friends who worked at the kennel when she was there said she was by far the most terrified and fearful dog they had seen come through the kennel.
Breeze's AGR kennel adoption photo
Sheryl took one look at Breeze and packed her up to take her home to foster, not one minute more would Breeze be in that environment. After getting her in the car, (a challenge in and of itself) Breeze was so scared she did number 1 and 2 and threw up during the drive home. I got the call later that day, “Guess what I just did?” “Boy or girl?” was my response. Sheryl has the same kennel affliction that I do – canine accumulation syndrome. Sheryl was part of our play dates at the time (she has since moved out of state) and though we would see her with her other greyhound at the park, we didn’t get to meet Breeze for about 3 weeks. Sheryl was concerned that if she let Breeze run she would not be able to catch her again. So instead we heard the stories of the mystery dog. How Sheryl had to put the crate, draped in blankets to provide a sense of security, directly next to the doggy door so Breeze could run outside without having to go through the house and therefore be near people. How Breeze spent all her time cowering in the crate, until Sheryl’s husband or step-son came home where then she would retreat to the back yard. How she would stand in the furthest corner of the yard, one leg bent, eyes always searching, ready to run at any sound. How Breeze would only eat and drink outside. How she ran if you looked at her, spoke sharply, moved quickly. There were stories of some progress as well. She was slowly starting to trust Sheryl enough to come up to her when there was no one else around.
So around week 3 Sheryl decided to bring Breeze to the play date with the promise we would help if there were any problems. My first sight of Breeze was a petrified dog straining at the end of a leash trying to get as far from any person as possible. As soon as Sheryl let her off the leash and harness she was a brindle dot at the furthest end of the field. She just stood there in The Pose: leg up (usually the left which we learned had a broken toe), tail tucked, ready to run. She didn’t engage with the other greys and she wouldn’t come within 30 feet of any people. Sheryl would have to be completely separated from everyone else for Breeze to even come close to her. When we were ready to leave we stood near the gate and watched, hopeful, as Sheryl walked to the opposite end of the field and waited patiently as Breeze made up her mind to go to her. There was a huge sigh of relief when she eventually did and Sheryl was able to get the leash on her. So it went for the next 3 weeks or so. After about a week Breeze would occasionally run with the dogs, as long as the pack didn’t get too close to any of the humans. We realized she was far more fearful of men than women, you couldn't approach her, that even looking at her was considered a threat. We all wondered what had happened to her in the past. Who did what to her? Imaginations were active and all the conclusions were ugly. We applauded the patient work Sheryl did trying to make this dogs' life even a little better while wondering what she had gotten herself into.
The Pose - Breeze November 2008
How Breeze swapped households coming up next.