You don’t have to listen very hard to hear someone say, “my dog loves to please me, my dog is so loyal”, or conversely “I wish my dog was more loyal, I wish he wanted to please me”. I’m not quite sure the root of these sentiments, where is Chrysti the Wordsmith when you need her!
Personally and professionally, I’ve always found this a bit odd. Simply from the stand point of slavishness, is that even a word? Why yes it is, I just looked it up! The sentiments tend to suggest a dog that see’s and feels nothing else in life, but it’s owner. Ego? I don’t really know.
Now I have seen that butter soft Golden Retriever, with big beautiful brown bedroom eyes, They appear to melt into their owners, follow them around adoringly, look deep into their owners eyes, UNTIL, the rabbit goes by, see ya! Pit Bulls can be the same. I’ve seen Pit Bulls look like they want to crawl inside their owners skin they love them so much, they just can’t get close enough, can’t get enough contact, can’t look into that human face without turning into a virtual jelly bean, UNTIL, the ball comes out, THROW IT!
Is there in fact such a thing as a loyal dog, a dog who is genetically pre disposed to pleasing another species? I don’t know. I think more than genetics it is the rare pairing of just the right dog with just the right person, and magic, it happens.
So here is my current line up of dogs. This is who they are and what they came to the planet with. I love them for who they are, not what I need them to be.
Franny – She is my partner, she is not a taker, and only a giver every once in awhile. She does not require me to support her emotionally or physically, she has good confidence, and great instincts. Franny does lay next to me when I am not feeling well or when I am particularly tired. She likes to check in with me, particularly in the evenings. She has a slight guarding quality so she will step in front of me at home if there is something outside that causes her concern. She has never done anything that I am aware of, to indicate that she has wanted to please me. She’s more of a ‘keep up if you want to hang with me’ kind of dog. A true partner, trust on both ends for us. But this has taken time!
Ocean – She is a taker. She was a spooky, low confident puppy. Timid, fearful and extremely cautious. Her whole life has been about us supporting her emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She comes to us for comfort, but does not give us comfort. She comes to us if she is afraid, so we can reassure her. If I am having a bad day, stressed or concerned, she leaves the room. She is not capable of handling emotions from anything or anybody, outside of neutral. If we were out hiking and something hit the fan, she would take off running, and expect me to deal with it, she would not be there to help me out. I/we take care of her, she was never born with enough grit to support, please, or be loyal to anything.
Story – He is my giver and my partner. He is my gift, plain and simple. He stands next to my side and I can feel that we are in this together. He allows me to love him and work with him, and I allow him to love me back and push me to be a better person. On a low day he will come and comfort me and nuzzle me. He looks out for me when we are hiking, and always keeps an eye on me, always. He is my one dog that will stop and wait for me to catch up. He will allow me to lean on his back if we are going up a steep hill, and he will step in front of me and stop if he is unsure of what is coming down the trail. If he is frustrated with some new sport we are working on, he lets me know, he does not obey anything or anyone, it’s about fairness for Story. He has integrity, grit, and kindness all wrapped up into one dog, but he expects the same from everyone he encounters.
$eeker – he is not a giver, a taker, or a partner. I am still so up in the air about my dear sweet $eeker. He lives in a world where sometimes we just don’t get each other, I don’t feel he is present, or I feel he is present with the other voices in his head? This morning on our hike he was amazing, playful with me, attentive, and I could feel him wanting to be with me. Other days I’m not sure he even see’s me. To be honest, I think we are all his little experiment, and one day I am going to turn around slowly, and catch him whispering into his shoulder, “my work is done here, beam me up Scotty”.