Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Trust and Loyalty Builds a Bond

By Linda Cole

Earning your pet's trust isn't a given. You have to work at developing a friendship with your pet just as much as you do with a person. With trust comes respect and bonding, and once a pet gives you their unconditional love, they will never break it. Our pets give us a pure and sincere love for their entire lifetime.

There's no question in my mind that animals are a lot smarter than they are given credit for. Pet owners who have a strong bond with their dog or cat witness firsthand the remarkable and sometimes even amazing abilities they have. In a study on the loyalty of dogs, researchers had two people sit side by side in a room. One person was the dog's owner and the other person was a stranger. There were two colored plastic cups turned upside down over a dog treat; when the dog was brought in, both people pointed at the cup beside them. Researchers wanted to see if a dog would follow the pointing finger of a stranger. Each time the dog came into the room, he responded only to his owner and ignored the stranger's pointing finger. The researchers concluded this shows how much dogs trust their owners.

Loyal dogs will do whatever is needed to protect the ones they love. I had the dogs outside in their pen late one night, several years ago. We had a fresh layer of snow on the ground which made it as still as a mouse sensing a cat. Suddenly, a coyote was standing on the other side of the pen staring in at us. The dogs were nervous and made no sound as they gathered around me as though they were protecting me. I could tell they were nervous, though, and they also wanted me to protect them. But I have no doubt that if the coyote had tried to get into the pen, he would have had to deal with my dogs. Needless to say, we quickly went back inside the house.

Cats are loyal and trusting in their own way. If your female cat brings you a freshly caught mouse or leaves a small animal by your back door, it's a sign of their loyalty and love for you. Kittens learn from their mother how to hunt. The momma cat will catch a mouse, bring it back to her kittens and turn it loose to give them a chance to learn how to stalk, hunt and catch prey. A cat who never learned to hunt for food still knows how to hunt, but doesn't associate it with food. She leaves you her catch because of instinct. I think it's her way of saying, “I'm taking care of you.”

Our pets trust us to take care of them. They depend on us for everything from a high quality food like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, to a game of catch. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty to nurture our relationship with our pets every day with exercise, snuggle time, playtime and every other way we interact with a pet. They don't ask a lot from us, and their loyalty and trust is honest and true.

My dog Keikei was just barely 8 weeks old when she was kicked out of her first home. As she grew, it became obvious she was going to need a lot of patience and training because she has a dominant personality and at around 6 months old she started showing signs of aggression with my other dogs. Never discount the importance of trust your dog has in you. It should never be taken lightly. Keikei learned how we wanted her to act because we gave her the same respect and trust we expected from her.

There's no shortage of stories about dogs and cats that saved their family by waking them up and alerting them to a fire or carbon monoxide in the house. I’ve even read about cats credited with saving their owners from burglars and dogs that have put their life on the line to stand up to someone threatening their family. I've also read many stories about dogs that jump in front of children to protect them from a snake bite. It gives me chills when I think about how quickly a pet will come to our aid. Their trust and loyalty is just as sincere as their unconditional love, and they will never take it for granted. It's what builds a solid bond that will never be broken by the pet.

Photo by Emily Johnson

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. My favorite story about a cat protecting their owners is that blind cat, HOmer, that a book was written about. A man tried to come in the house and evidently the cat raised up like he was going to attack and the person left. That is such a good book if you haven't read it. This was a good post.

  2. I've found that while you can lose a dog's loyalty, you never lose their love. My dog was always overjoyed to encounter her original owner, but her loyalty had clearly transferred to me and she never showed any regret about following me away after seeing him again.

  3. Great article!...I know my pets (2 cats and a black lab) are smarter than me because they won't eat anything else I give them unless its CANIDAE or FELIDAE!

  4. Written like a true animal lover. My cat brings uw presents all the time. Just last night he proudly offered me a field mouse.

  5. Such a great post! Austin is always bringing me presents! I do appreciate it …. no really lol. He also tried to protect me (even though I didn’t need it) from the neighbourhood bruiser of a ginger tom who he’s terrified of! He’s was in there with fur flying like a good’un :)


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