Oh, Sinna. We remember those icy blues and uncertainty the first time we met her. And, how patient her parents were while they were getting to know her and help her overcome her separation anxiety. Then, we remember how happy she was to see us when her family trusted us to work on her leash skills while they were out of the country. Trust, it takes time. Read on to find out more about Sinna and how many homes it took for her to find the people who deserve her love.
How did you and your dog find each other?
My 15.5-year-old Husky had died, and I was drowning in grief. I would often comfort myself by looking at photos of Huskies in need of rescue, thinking of the day–presumably far in the future when I felt ready–when I’d adopt one of my own. Then I came across the video of Sinna (formerly Cinnabon) from Animal Care League in Oak Brook (set to Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved,” no less–talk about heartbreaking!). The video explained that she was wary of men and needed an experienced owner and slow intros to anything new. When my husband, Nate, and I went to see her, we were warned further not to make eye contact with her, not to pet her, and not to engage her in any way basically. Sane people would have run, perhaps, but we had just spent 15.5 years with a dog- and people-aggressive Husky. We were open to the challenge. The meet-and-greet was fine, if not terribly informative; she was super hyper (23 hours a day in a cage will do that to you), but we couldn’t tell much beyond that since we were following orders and keeping our distance. But there was something about her–both in the video and in person. Something to which I connected immediately and forcefully. And when I learned that she had already been returned from two foster homes, that was it. I knew that we had to try to be her third-time’s-a-charm chance. She bonded to us almost immediately, I am happy to report, and 2.5 years later, is an amazing dog who just needed a chance (or perhaps three…). Sure, she has her issues, but who doesn’t? She takes a while to warm up to people and certainly doesn’t love strangers in the house, but I’m introverted myself. I can’t say I disagree with her. At the end of the day, she’s brilliant, so very affectionate, and just a lot of fun.
What is the biggest assumption people make based on your dog’s looks?
Sinna is half Husky, half “pit bull” (American Staffordshire Terrier, actually), and her appearance can certainly frighten people, especially her ice-blue eyes. People sometimes (perhaps often) cross the street to avoid her, and that is actually fine with me as she’s dog-reactive when on-leash (she loves other dogs and does not take kindly to being prevented from saying hi, but her impatience can read as aggression).
What personality trait does your dog possess that contradicts his or her physical appearance?
Sinna looks like a badass. She’s stocky and strong and just intense, at least appearance-wise. Also, she is quite clearly the queen bee of our three-dog pack. However, despite all that, she is SO sensitive. Her feelings are hurt very easily. The slightest raised voice or brusque reaction from Nate or me, and she is immediately at our side, offering her paw. In those moments, all she wants is to be held close on your lap and to give you endless kisses.
What are the biggest obstacles you and your dog have overcome together? And, what was most helpful in helping you do so?
Sinna suffers from separation anxiety, which in fact is the reason she was returned from one foster home. But we’ve worked with her a great deal on the issue and have reached if not a resolution, then an arrangement that we all find livable. Working with a wonderful trainer and learning to meet Sinna halfway (understanding and accepting, for example, that she will never be able to be crated) made all the difference.
If you could make a sign for the world to see to better understand your dog’s individual needs, what would it say?
“It’s not you, it’s me.” People can become so offended when you don’t want their dog to meet your dog or you don’t want them to pet your dog. It can make going for a walk a stressful experience (and don’t get me started on off-leash dogs!). But I’ve learned that it’s just a wiser tack. You never know how another dog will react, and humans certainly aren’t great at reading their signals. Also, leashes change the dynamic. And Sinna takes quite some time to warm up to people, so letting everyone bop-bop-bop her on the head during walks would be her nightmare. While I certainly believe in positive reinforcement and teaching appropriate behavior, I also strongly believe that, to a certain degree, you should accept the dog you have. We all have our foibles and fears, and the best I can do is set Sinna up for success to the greatest extent possible.
Anything else you want to share?
I can’t imagine life without Sinna. She’s not the perfect Disney dog, but I don’t know that they exist beyond the silver screen. She is smart and interesting and complicated and loyal and so very loving. With all that, who needs perfection?
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