This is a long post, but please bare with me. I have limited experience with pet ownership, and I believe my situation is fairly unique, so hopefully y'all can help my wife and me a bit.
We currently live in American Samoa (we're both short-term contract workers), a U.S. Territory in the South Pacific. When we arrived back in November '10 we moved into a modest house and were surprised to discover a feral dog and her puppy living under the foundation (the house had been empty for a few months prior to us moving in). We started feeding them and treating them as pets. The mother warmed up to us immediately, but the puppy (who we named Popo) remained extremely skittish.
We moved a few blocks away three months after arriving. Popo and her mom remained at the vacant house, but we continued to feed them on our way to and from work. After a few weeks of this the mother died. A week later, Popo followed us home one evening and has remained at our new house with us ever since.
At our new house, Popo stays outside. She only comes inside to eat, and she won't come more than a few feet inside the threshold because she is still distrustful of humans. She won't let us touch her, but she enjoys playing with us, we take her for short walks, and she generally reacts positively when we come home from work.
Here's the problem: we want to take Popo home to Seattle with us when we leave in November '12, but we don't see how it's possible. Other contract workers have taken feral dogs with them when they've left the island, but such a move necessitates an animal that will trust its owner to put it in a crate, and we can't even get Popo on a leash.
Training is extremely complicated and difficult due to the other dogs that live on our street. There are currently three partially feral dogs that stay near our house - a male and two females. Popo is essentially part of their pack, although at the bottom of the hierarchy. If it was only Popo, we could try to train her outside where she's more comfortable, but whenever we're outside the other dogs come around and Popo seems bound to yield any food and attention to them.
It seems to me the only options to get Popo to trust us to the extent necessary to get her off the island are (1) to train her to be comfortable inside where we can get her isolated from the other dogs (and thereafter getting her crate trained), or (2) to get rid of the other dogs. The problem with #1 is that we've tried everything to get her inside to no avail, and #2 seems unfeasible and likely to confuse Popo.
Sorry for the long-winded post, but does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? We're afraid that Popo will be unable to fend for herself if we leave in 11 months without her.