Saturday, May 14, 2011

What My Dog Has Taught Me About Trust

My dog has a bit of an attitude problem. At least, that's the human assessment. He doesn't think he has a problem at all. There are just some dogs he doesn't like. And some people. But just the jerks.
How does he know they're jerks? He relies on instinct, something we humans long ago stopped trusting in favor of our heads and hearts (and Lord knows how they've got us in trouble!).
And it dawned on me the other day that I could learn a lot about healing from betrayal from my dog. He had been betrayed. By the people who first owned him. He was rescued by the sheriff after someone squealed about his living conditions. He was removed from the barn where he was found, malnourished and full of parasites. He had clearly suffered neglect...likely abuse.
And yet, he loves me unconditionally. He was willing to give people another chance. Not all people...but me.
And so...I offer up the lessons he's taught:
1. Give second chances. But not third. Or fourth.
2. Be fiercely loyal to those who deserve it.
3. Trust your instincts more than your training.
4. You're capable of great love. Don't be afraid to show it.
5. Don't be deceived by looks or words or even treats (though don't turn them down. Just don't let them change your mind about someone you don't like).
6. Be willing to treat each day like a new adventure, neither defined by the day before, nor a dress rehearsal for what might happen tomorrow.
7. When you're happy, wag that tail with all you've got.
8. When you're angry, don't be afraid to let them know you've got teeth...and you're not afraid to use them.
9. Protect what's yours ferociously.
10. Understand that looking someone else trying to make you look foolish (for example, putting reindeer antlers on your head for a Christmas card photo...) doesn't make you a fool. Trust in your own dignity.


  1. So true! I have two dogs and they teach me about love, trust, loyalty, commitment every day....dogs have core values down packed!

  2. Love this post -- so true. Before D-day when I knew in my soul that something was very, very wrong but didn't yet know what, walking my dog daily was the only thing that kept me sane. Dogs are amazing. I will have a dog by my side for the rest of my days.

  3. I have three dogs (and three cats and a rabbit...yes, I'm aware that I'm nuts) and I, too, relied on them post-D-Day. I cried into their fur and they never complained that I was getting snot on them. And my daily walks with them reminded that life was still moving on...and I could choose to join it or completely withdraw and miss out. I chose to join. Dogs are incredibly life-affirming. My big white dog (like in the photo) recently lost a leg to bone cancer...yet still bounces about and loves us madly. No pity party...he just licked his wounds for a week or so, then got back at it.



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