The Silver Lining

As much progress as Silas has made, he is still at heart a very timid dog.

Every now and then I get a reminder of this. Sunday night, my husband got something out of his briefcase. A few minutes later, the briefcase fell over, “all by itself.” Silas was terrified. I told him to go check it out, which he finally, haltingly, did. He wasn’t really happy about it for quite a while.

Sometimes I imagine the alternate universe, in which he’s a confident, outgoing dog.

Then I realize that fear has its perks. Silas is too scared to do lots of things that I would prefer him not to do. Like, counter surf. Silas is physically capable of jumping up on top of our counters. Since scary things might live up there, he doesn’t. It’s been ages since he was actually afraid of something like a big pot on the edge of the counter, but I guess in his mind there’s still a chance.

He’s never wanted to jump over things indoors, either. For which my poor bathroom rug (aka Silas’s favorite non-food snack), enclosed behind a measly low gate, is forever grateful.

I’m also pretty certain that, given his reaction to my mother’s ceramic cat statue, Silas would not know what to do with any of those live animals he wants to chase if he were to catch one.

I suspect that, given the chance, I would gladly trade. I would be even tidier if that meant Silas was a confident, relaxed, outgoing dog. But there’s some silver lining to timidity, too.

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8 thoughts on “The Silver Lining

  1. It’s interesting that you posted this today. Just yesterday I was reminded of how timid my boy Forest can be. It was a baking sheet that I picked up from the stove and put on the counter. The movement of it in the air terrified him. He ran a few feet away, turned and began barking while cowering. As you did with Silas and the briefcase, I had him come and check it out. it’s not often but occasionally something will spook him in the house and I feel terrible. For him, it was his early months that have left a lasting impression of fear.

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    1. Silas’s fear is some combination of genes and being separated from his mother very early. His mother probably wasn’t in the best shape, either, I’m guessing.

      Like your Forest, he’s gotten over most of his fears in the house, so they do surprise me when they pop up. He used to cower at things like aluminum foil coming off the roll, but it’s been over a year.

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  2. Be careful what you wish for. If you do too good of a job at building his confidence, Silas could be jumping through drive-through windows along with Shiva! Sometimes I miss the days she would panic at the sight of a foreign object on the ground… It would keep her a lot safer, anyway.

    I think he has definitely come a long way, however. Despite his fears you were still able to convince him to check out the briefcase. That shows a lot of courage on his part. Go Team Silas!

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  3. Hurley is fearful of almost nothing. So he counter surfs, steals food from our mouths (OK, he only did that once and when he was a much younger puppy but still!) and is generally a badger. I’m not suggesting that having a fearful dog is preferable to having an adventurous one. I love Hurley’s confidence. It’s so refreshing after Maggie & Sadie – who both have some fear issues. But it also drives me bonkers. He actually broke a casserole dish the other day, big, HUGE crash, and tried to keep eating off the broken pieces.

    Sadie did have a lot of fear of household items when we first got her but now, she rarely flinches at anything besides plastic bags. She hates plastic bags. I’m sure Silas will get there too!

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  4. I agree with you, a little fear can sometimes be a good thing. We had the incident with the pallet of food outside our training center. Both dogs were leery of it, so I led them up there to check it out. While they were sniffing something spooked Delilah (I still have no idea) and she jumped! When she jumped Sampson took off, thank God he didn’t run far, but it could have turned out far worse.

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