Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Matter of Trust

When we arrive home in Puerto Rico, good times roll for the neighborhood street dogs. We feed twice a day, snacks are given often. A bowl of fresh, clean water is available all day. We pet. We clean and treat wounds.

Dogs at our kennel in Illinois may not see us for a year, but they’re happy when they come back because we’re good to them. I guess I expected it to be that way, when we come back to the dogs here.

Blondie was happy to see us. She moved back up the hill the night we got home. She goes to visit the neighbors, but she stays with us.

Stormy may or may not come up for a meal; he doesn’t live here anymore. He lives in the street in front of Mike’s house. As long as Mike’s family is home; Stormy does sentry duty. When they leave, he will come by for a visit. After the family settles in for the night, he’ll sleep on our cushion.

Stormy did give up this spot to Owl, but some meals Stormy won’t let Owl near any food dish. He asserts his superiority, Owl backs down. Storm has what he wants, unchallenged by Owl.

Blondie plays with Owl. The old dog seldom plays, but Blondie and Stormy still go off on adventures together. At this point, if push came to shove with the boys, I think she’d back Stormy. Except for occasional feeding time power plays, all behave properly in our presence.

I don’t think that Stormy stays away because of Owl. He is fiercely loyal to those who are here with him. It has nothing to do with the quality of care they give him. This family has dogs; he is not one of them.

I’ve had this little dog’s love like that and lost it. Having a relationship with this dog isn’t about reinforcers or slick training gimmicks. It’s a matter of earning his trust.

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