Anxious dog goes home with his kindred spirit

Buddy the brown Chihuahua mix standing outside
Buddy had a strict no-touch policy that couldn’t be broken — until he met his human counterpart.
By Andrea Pitts

Nothing eases anxiety quite like human touch — that is, unless being touched is the very thing that makes your heart race with fear. This was certainly the case for Buddy, a 5-year-old Chihuahua mix who cowered and cried anytime a stranger would even look in his direction. Back then, touching him was simply out of the question.

Buddy had originally come from a situation where there were more animals than his person could care for, and he arrived in Best Friends’ care largely unsocialized to people and life in a home. Shortly after his arrival, staff and volunteers became concerned Buddy’s crippling fear of people could pose a significant barrier to adoption. Knowing full well the little guy was going to be a tough case to crack, Best Friends staff and volunteers got to work helping their new cautious friend learn to trust others within the world around him.

Dog channels his inner Ewok

During Buddy’s first few weeks at the lifesaving center, staff and volunteers sat with him to help him get used to a human’s mere presence in his space, while still maintaining a healthy distance and avoiding direct eye contact with him.

When Buddy was scared, he made squeaky protests. And everyone began affectionally referring to his whines as “calls of the Ewok” because the sound so closely resembled the noises made by those cuddly looking creatures from Star Wars.

[Shy Dogs and Cats: How to Help Timid Pets]

With time, Buddy came to accept people being in and around his space, and kind words and treats were added to the sitting sessions. This helped him trust people a bit more, but Buddy still had no interest in physical contact with anyone.

Touching or holding Buddy was sometimes a necessity to ensure he was receiving proper medical and daily life care. Knowing these moments were exceptionally stressful for Buddy, anyone who handled him was instructed to wrap him in a blanket first to help Buddy feel a little more secure.

Foster family committed to helping dog with anxiety

Since Buddy had spent his entire life around a multitude of dogs, it was no surprise that being around others of his kind helped him to relax — a little. He still preferred to stay to himself when out in the yard around other dogs. Still, even the smallest visible change in his demeanor proved just how much he was watching his new pack members for clues on how to act in his new environment.

Buddy did take some steps forward, but progress was slow. After two months at the lifesaving center, staff decided it was time for Buddy to have a change of scenery and gain some experience in a home with a patient foster family.

It didn’t take much work on Buddy’s part for his new foster family to fall in love with him. The family couldn’t adopt Buddy, but they didn’t hesitate to commit to fostering him for however long it took to find the sweet boy a new home.

Best Friends staff remained in close contact with Buddy and his foster family, giving them just about every shy-dog tip and trick in the book. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Buddy’s progress remained slow. Still, everyone agreed to keep Buddy right where he was until a potential suiter came along. Little did anyone know, opportunity would be knocking on Buddy’s door very soon.

Shy pup meets his trusted person

Kory Davis came to Best Friends in search of a new dog friend. He had recently lost his loyal companion Scooter, who had been his right-hand pup for nearly 10 years.

Kory told the adoptions team at Best Friends that he was searching for a dog who wouldn’t mind just chilling on the couch and watching movies with him. “I’m a naturally nervous person, so I wasn’t looking for a dog who barked a lot or had tons of energy,” Kory explains.

As luck would have it, one nervous dog named Buddy happened to be staying at the lifesaving center while his foster family was out of town on the very same day Kory came to visit.

[Loving a shy dog: An adopter’s story]

“When I saw Buddy, I could tell he was the quiet, nervous type just like me. I felt his nervous energy, and I just felt drawn to him,” says Kory.

Like magic, Kory seemed to know just what to do to help Buddy’s worried demeaner disappear the moment the two of them met. He bent down to Buddy’s level with a treat in his hand — and Buddy slowly moved over and accepted the treat from Kory.

“We were shocked when Buddy took the treat from Kory’s hand,” says Krystal Vera, Best Friends lifesaving and care supervisor in Los Angeles. “Even though Buddy loved treats, it was rare for him to take them directly from our hands.”

In that moment, a connection between two kindred spirits was born.

A new right-hand pup

Kory adopted Buddy that same day, and the dynamic duo haven’t looked back. They have been navigating life together for nearly two months now. Kory says Buddy is still fearful sometimes, but they have come so far together since he first brought Buddy to live with him.

Not only does Buddy let Kory pet him, but he also sleeps in Kory’s bed every night — with his very own pillow. Outings and walks are also a much more pleasant experience for Buddy since coming to live with Kory. He especially likes to hang with Kory by the pool at his apartment complex.

Kory says, “Buddy and I, we just get each other. I’m here for him, and he’s here for me.”

Sometimes, all it takes to move mountains for one person or pet is finding that special someone who just gets you.

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