April, 2014. Next I decided to give a long shot a second chance. Bella had come from the same situation as our former foster Beary, but was far worse off. After spending 3 months in another foster, she was adopted out. But Bella's extremely fearful and untrusting behavior didn't improve with her new owners, so she was returned to the shelter.
Bella desperately wanted to stay out of grabbing range, so for the first five days I had her drag a ten foot leash around. It took five days before I could get her out of her crate to go outside without leashing her up. She started to play with Boomer, and eventually cautiously explored the house.
I couldn't walk toward Bella, much like Gunner, or she would dart away. If inside she would run back into her cage. But Bella proved to be much less afraid of my wife. Within a week she was allowing herself to be petted and taking treats from Theresa's hand. With me she was still completely standoffish.
We had two accidents in the first week so I had to do structured times outside. After a week I let her stay outside unsupervised. One night she decided to jump up into my three garden boxes on the deck and dig them up. She must have had a great time because she did a thorough job, dirt everywhere! Fortunately I hadn't planted any seeds yet so only some easily replanted onions got disturbed.
But, from then on, all outside sessions were supervised.
Bella loved playing outside, and would run big loops around the yard and deck at full speed. Boomer and her would play chase or tug-of-war when Boomer was in the mood. She would often amuse herself with a toy, tossing it into the air before grabbing it again and taking off running. She was a hit-and-run bandit who loved to grab something and make off joyfully with her wonderful treasure.
She tried to dig a couple of times so it was important to keep an eye on her. She also loved to dig out the water from the large water bowl on the deck. Water dog. Since it would have been tough giving her a bath, it worked out well for us.
After a few weeks we started doing daily walks in the neighborhood. But she always wanted to keep as far from me as possible on the leash, especially once we encountered anyone else on the walk. She walked a little better when my wife and Boomer joined us on the weekends.
But even after ten weeks Bella still insisted on keeping out of my reach. The only exception was that if I laid down she would come over to get petted or take treats. She had become much more trusting of my wife, and acted like a semi-normal dog with her and Boomer. But since I wasn't able to gain enough trust to effectively work with her, the time had come for her to go back to the shelter and hopefully find a long term female fosterer.
I tried to continue to work with Bella at the shelter, but she still wouldn't trust me enough to make any real progress. Sadly the decision eventually had to be made to let her go. I knew when we started to foster her that she was a long shot, so I was emotionally more prepared for it. But it was still a very heart wrenching time. Sorry I couldn't help you more Bella. I hope we at least made your last few months more enjoyable for you.
I learned afterwards that some of Bella’s pelvic bones were used to help another dog with a serious bone problem. It was at least somewhat helpful to feel she was able to help another dog after her death.