I adopted TT from a shelter in January 2010 when he was seven months old. TT was a semi-feral pup, part of a litter that had little human contact. A rescue group trapped the litter during the summer of 2009, but TT remained elusive until he was finally trapped and transported to the shelter in October 2009.
When he came home with me and my dog Sophie in January 2010, he was afraid of his own shadow, and of me, but he had instantly bonded to Sophie. It's only because of Sophie that I was able to bring TT home. I couldn't even touch him - he would shy away from me - but he adored Sophie and followed her everywhere. One of the most important things I learned was to let Sophie be his teacher.
I also learned not to push TT, to wait and let him decide to come to me when he was ready. I learned how to help him feel safe and I took care not to overwhelm or pressure him. I learned that, when I paid attention to Sophie, he was watching and learning. And I learned that, with love and patience, trust would come.
Today, TT is a friendly, loving dog who is generally comfortable with people and can handle most social situations. He will always be a shy dog, but he no longer panics or hides when he meets new people or more than one or two people at once.
TT has come a long way from the terrified, traumatized pup I brought home more than a decade ago. He has taught me everything I know about working with dogs who are shy and fearful, and he is still teaching me.