As soon as they brought her into the room, she ran over to where I was standing, leaned against my legs, and looked up at me with a big "aren't I cute?" doggie smile. I knew she was the one.
The ladies at the shelter told me that she was about two years old, and had lived her entire life till then outside. I guess the person who owned her had never taken her to a vet, so she wasn't spayed. She had ended up pregnant and had given birth to a litter of puppies (I don't know how many.) As winter was coming on, she had been brought in with her puppies by a concerned neighbor, who feared that she and the pups would starve or die of the cold. The owner said they didn't care. She had a patchy coat, and her teats were still visibly hanging down from nursing her pups. One ear drooped, and you could see her ribs. Despite all that, she was filled with hope and still willing to love people.
All the pups had gotten adopted, but nobody had wanted Shilah. She had been at the shelter for three months, and had been scheduled to be destroyed twice before, but they hadn't had the heart to do it, given how sweet she was. Normally the dogs become very stressed by the noise and being in a cage there, but I guess to Shilah it was an improvement, since she now had food and shelter. She went home with me the next day.
It became clear to me right away that Shilah had been mistreated. She was afraid of any loud noises, sudden movement, and any large men with low voices, even on the tv. Her posture would change and she would run and hide if I picked up a broom or yardstick. Although she couldn't tell me about her past, she had obviously been beaten and had things thrown at her. She was afraid of plastic grocery bags.
That was eleven years ago. Shilah no longer runs away from a mop or broom. She has learned that she doesn't have to be afraid of plastic bags, and knows that I bring food and other goodies home in those. She knows she has a home where she is loved and safe.