Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bonding With Your Pet: What is Trust?

By Linda Cole

Our pets give us unconditional love with no hesitation. Dogs protect our homes as well as their pack leader and the rest of their family. Eager ears listen for the sound of our vehicles as we return home, and we are greeted at the door every time as if we've been gone for months. Most cats are more independent and dignified in their greetings. They would never lower themselves to the level of a dog by giving us wet kisses. Cats show their affection with a nip on the nose, a lick on the arm or head rub on our leg or face. Yet their happiness when we return home equals that of the dog, even though they exhibit the cool attitude of a cat. However, cats and dogs have one thing in common. They trust us, sometimes when it's not deserved. So what is trust?

The trust our pets give to us is non negotiable as far as they are concerned. Dogs work with humans to aid policemen and rescue workers digging through piles of rubble after an earthquake or other natural disaster hits a region. They help the blind and handicapped lead productive lives on their own. Therapy cats and dogs help hospitalized children and those in nursing homes cope with day to day challenges. The only thing pets ask from us in return is to care for their needs and treat them with respect and kindness.

Every time I gaze into the eyes of one of my pets, I see trust. They know I would never do anything to hurt them. What we think of as responsibility, they see as trust, but it's deeper than just us taking care of a pet. It's knowing them so well that we instantly know if they don't feel good, are frightened, curious or something is bothering them. Trust is also being able to look into the eyes of a pet who is sick and know, because they are telling us, it's time to let them go. Trust is an emotional bond between owner and pet. It's not something we think about, it's just there. You can't explain it, you just feel it.

A cat will curl up in your lap with a gentle purr not because you fed him, but because he trusts you. Of course the food doesn't hurt, but he won't sit on the lap of someone he doesn't trust. A dog will fight an intruder to protect his owner because of trust. They curl up at our sides or at our feet because they want to be near us. Our lives are enriched because we share them with our pets. They know when we are happy or sad and share our sorrows and joys. It all comes from trust.

The elements of trust means something different to our pets than it does to us and probably means something different to each of us as responsible pet owners. It's much more than making sure they've been fed and watered or they've had their walk and the cat pan is clean. It's a snuggle, a happy tail wag or gentle purr as we interact with them. It’s a passion we feel for doing what's best for them and making sure they have everything they need.

As pet owners, we see how their eyes light up when they look at us, an undeniable trust that brings a smile to our hearts. We get a warm feeling when they rest their heads on our chest and they give us a look that tells us just how contented they are. It's all because of trust and that's one of the best feelings around. Simply put – trust is love.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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