When I first met Pela, I already had two dogs and absolutely no intention of adopting a third one, because it would make fostering too difficult. The moment I laid eyes on her, I fell in love, madly in love.
She is the type of dog that is so submissive, tender and at the same time discreet and calm, that makes you think “why aren’t all dogs like you?”. I took her home the next week for three days, so I could do a bit of leash training and take her to an adoption event. That was two years ago.
I never took her back to that open field she used to call home, never promoted her for adoption, never considered anyone worthy of her love than myself. She was perfect and I kept her for myself out of pure ego. I simply didn’t want her to make anyone else happy than me.
She fit the pack perfectly since day one. I trusted her off the leash the first week. Our routine walk was usually down the local park, and she became famous immediately. I only had her for a month, and people were already amazed on how obedient and incredibly loyal she was. And friendly. She enjoyed a cuddle from everyone.
She was the park’s mascot for more than a year. I walked around with her and would hear people calling her name from meters away.
Since the first day I took her home, she was my dog. She knew it, and so did I. The connection we had was so immediate, that I never imagined it could grow any stronger than that, but it did.
One day, while walking down the usual park, with Laura and Bonnie (both will let any stranger take them home in the blink of an eye), instead of the usual “Hey, Pela” I heard people say “Why isn’t Pela coming closer?”.
And that’s when it hit me. She had stopped approaching strangers months ago. Instead of greeting our usual human friends with a wagging tail and asking for the cuddle of the day, Pela had decided that she had a different mission. To protect. Somehow she has it in her, and once she was confident enough to be who she is, she became it.
What she does now, when I walk my pack at the park is always sit behind me when people approach to pet the others. She sits behind all of us, so that she can have a clear vision of everyone she protects, me, Laura and my occasional foster dog. She keeps her ears up high, she doesn’t smile, she only observes.
You have to understand that this is a dog so submissive, that even though she has typical wolf ears, she always keeps them down, as a sign of submission and obedience. I must only have a couple of photos of her where you can see how her face actually looks like, without her pulling her ears back and smiling silly – I had to search for about half an hour to find the photo in the header image. And yet, when she protects, she does it on full alert, ears up high and no smile on her beautiful, cute face. If you don’t know her, you just don’t approach.
She was so insecure the first six months, that she used to be bullied a lot from other dogs when we were out. Dogs always know, and they could tell that she was weak and scared. Of course she stopped being bullied a long time ago, and, as unbelievable as it may sound, she is the one giving my fosters a hard time when they first set foot into the house.
With her confidence boosted after almost two years of feeling that she belongs, Pela is now who her instinct dictates that she must be, and she is happy. She has a cause. We always wondered what her position was in the pack, since we already had the submissive, friendly type (Laura), and now we know. Pela is our guard. She is the one that will bark when the doorbell rings, that will alert us if strangers approach, that will try to keep us safe on doomsday.
The bottom line is, every single rescue dog evolves constantly, no matter how old they are (Pela is ten). It usually takes them more than a year, but once they feel that they belong, they will reach their full potential – and when you finally see them for who they are, you will be amazed. It’s like magic. All dogs are magic.