Cody and Lollie trust me with their lives. They trust me when I'm angry or sad or happy. They trust me when I take them to the vet or to the park. Somehow, I've conveyed to them that I will never, ever hurt them or abandon them, and they reward me with their trust.
For Cody, this isn't too difficult to understand. I've had him since he was 12 weeks old. He was only 11 pounds, and he was so vulnerable. I could have hurt him, tossed him around, mistreated him, but I loved him, and he has loved me in return. He's become my comfort and my protector. He's balanced enough for me to use him in lessons to help another dog, and at the same time he's just crazy enough where I know I'm safe if someone tries to harm me. He's kind of a perfect dog.
Lollie, though, is the one who really amazes me. I have no idea what the first 2 1/2 yeas of Lollie's life were like. Pure speculation leads me to believe she was a puppy mill dog, or at least stayed in a very confined space for long periods of time. I think she's been a mom before, but I don't know how many times. I know her last owner was loud and harsh (not mean, but not a good suit for her), but I don't know who owned her or how many owners she had before that. It's taken her a long time to trust me.
Lollie trusted Cody first. She learned to follow him and play with him, and in doing so she followed him to me. I've spent a year and a half working with her. I've introduced her to new people and environments, and I constantly watch her reactions. At first, all she could in these new situations was shake. She wouldn't look at me or acknowledge me. If she stressed out too much, she'd poop. It wasn't pretty. After a while, though, she started to get a little better. She wouldn't stress out right away, but after a few minutes she'd get overwhelmed. And if anyone tried to pet her she'd shut down. She just couldn't handle the attention.
Then, today, we did something neither of my dogs has ever done. We had a chiropractor and acupuncturist come to see them. I've wanted to try it on them for a while, but I was nervous. How would they do? Would it help? What about Lollie? Would she panic?
We put Cody on the table first. He's fairly used to vet exams, so he took things in stride. When the adjustment started, he looked back at the vet, but he seemed OK. When we started the acupuncture, his eyes got wide and he looked at me and at the vet, but I held his head, and he tolerated it.
If you know anything about acupuncture, you know it's not just a quick needle-in, needle-out sort of thing. The needles have to rest for a while, so Cody had to stay still with tons of needles in him for about 20 minutes. The poor boy was so confused. He tried to twist and bite the needles out, but when I told him to lie down he did so. He looked up at me with slight alarm at first, but as I gave him a couple of treats, held him, and soothed him, I felt him relax until he eventually fell asleep. Lollie watched all of this carefully and at one point even came over to check out her brother.
When we removed the needles, Cody was great. He was happy to have them out, but he also seemed more relaxed than I've seem him in years. It was hilarious.
Next, we had Lollie. The vet and I chatted about only doing acupuncture with her, because we weren't sure if she'd be able to handle all the activity of both acupuncture AND chiro. I said, "Let's just try." I had to pick Lollie up and put her on the table. She was already nervous, and she was starting to shut down. While the vet worked on her lower back, I held her head and rubbed between her eyes. It wasn't long before her head started to get heavy, and she started to fall asleep. It was then that I really started to realize, "She trusts me." Here we had some random woman she'd never met pushing her in various places, and she was falling asleep in my hands. Then came the acupuncture. Since Cody was a little weary of this, I expected the same out of Lollie. Nope! As long as I was holding her, she was happy.
As we were letting the needles settle, Lollie kept relaxing more and more. Her head got heavy, and she leaned to the side until, in a moment of distraction on my part, she fell clear off the table (luckily it was low to the ground). I thought, "That's it. She's done for." Instead, though, she looked at me, looked at the vet, and walked over to her favorite chair. There, with all her needles in her, she fell sound asleep and snored.
Out of all the things these dogs have been through, their trust in me is unfailing. They will follow me wherever I lead them (except maybe to the bath), and that's amazing. For Cody, this means following me on long runs where there are loud noises and lots of people. For Lollie, this means following me through water and over rocks, even though that's not her ideal adventure. I just can't get over that sort of trust, and I wish more people were like that. The world would be such a better place.
|Just for fun: A relaxed Lollie, full of needles|