It's hard to control what happens out in the world, but keeping negative experiences to a minimum with Saint puppies is crucial. With Rebecca, it literally takes only one bad experience, and she behaves as if she is permanently traumatized.
For example, she has had many, many positive experiences with the vet (treats, attention, etc.). Then something goes wrong with her spaying (much pain for her), and literally I can barely get her through the door now. The behavior has continued with the new vet as well. Or, she had many fun car rides. Hundreds literally. She gets hurt once jumping in, and now I can not get her to jump into that particular car without coaxing, and it has been months since the experience.
I look at the Saint rescues and see dogs that aren't good with kids, aren't good with other animals, not good with strangers. I am starting to wonder if what I'm describing is a breed trait...since I am seeing so many non-Saint traits described in these poor rescue babies. Rebecca is naturally good with everyone and all the animals she has met. But I fear that one very bad experience with a child or at the dog park would change that in her. Consequently I have turned into a mamma bear when guarding my girl against traumas hehe...worse than I would normally be I think.
Here are other things I've noticed about her.
She literally trained herself. As a small puppy she had natural decorum. She walked nicely on a leash, never approached strangers without my ok.
She will not take food from someone she doesn't know. I take her to a trendy pet store in SLO, and they sometimes have chicken jerky. If the person there keeps shoving treats at 'Becca, she will finally take it then spit it out. This doesn't impress me too much with the dry biscuits at the vet's...but chicken jerky?? Oh wow, lol.
She is very, very reserved around strangers. She would prefer not to meet anyone new at all. Last time at the vet's, a girl saw 'Becca and fell in love. The girl came and sat by her, respectfully, just talking to her and saying how pretty, etc. Rebecca moved herself as far away from the girl as possible and put her head in my lap as if to say "Oh please make it stop!" On the other hand, if people come to the house a couple of times or more, they are treated as part of the family with much love given.
She is a needy girl. So needy I can hardly believe it. I think this may be a Saint thing, because I've had other former Saint owners ask me about this trait, saying their dogs had it too. Rebecca is never left for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time, but when I come home, the greeting goes on for 10 mins at least. This is if I'm gone for only 15 mins or 4 hours. If she needs to go outside, she will hold it till the greeting is over. I always open up the back door first thing, and she'll race out, then back to me for more love, then start outside, then back to me. She acts as if she can't bear to be more than a couple feet away for those first few minutes after I get home. Wow, that girl makes me feel loved.