Mitzi has a playful look in her eyes, but she struggles to overcome her fear of strangers. “People who have visited the Animal Control Center have been interested in her, but they end up rejecting her because she is so timid,” Carolee Mason said.
A half hour with Mitzi proves that she is indeed reluctant to make eye contact. She will take a biscuit from the hand, but she quickly runs away. One would think there could be no possibility of breaking through her fear...that is, until she is seen with Matt Schaub, the keeper of the kennel at the center.
Matt has been working with Mitzi for almost six months. She looks to him to play and climbs into his lap for a cuddle. “She is a real sweetheart, an absolute love bug," Schaub said, cuddling and playing with the dog, which clearly trusts him. "She’s gentle, quiet, and very affectionate once she knows you.”
Mitzi is a spaniel mix. Schaub said, “A lot of these hunting dogs haven’t been loved. They are bred to do a job. If they are isolated in a pen with only other dogs, it is going to take a while to socialize her.”
Schaub said that Mitzi would do well in a household with very patient adults. “Ideally, they would come to spend time with her over a month to get her to trust them. People have to remember, on Day One, you are a stranger and this dog will run from you.”
“This is a special case dog that needs a fenced in yard,” Mason said. “Mitzi was found roaming when she was 9 months old. She was dirty and shaking uncontrollably.”
According to Schaub, a lot of noise or too much activity would not be good for this dog. He said, “She gets along great with other dogs, but is too skittish for young children. She shook in the cage for a long time before she began to trust me. She is best in peace and quiet.”
Schaub admitted that the dog has probably been mistreated and that she was most likely caged with other dogs in poor conditions. "She was possibly born into a litter that was bred for money and was not taken care of,” he said.
Besides being somewhat emotionally scarred, Mitzi has some hereditary allergy problems. Matt said that she is not itchy, and patches of missing hair could be due to stress, but could also be scarring.
"It will take a real angel with tremendous patience to get Mitzi ready to go home," Mason said, "but as Matt has proven, it can be done, and would be well worth it for both the owner and Mitzi. If people are in it for the long haul, what is a month to get to know her? She is a wonderful dog, just waiting for the right person.”