The Disease Called Trust

There is a deadly disease stalking your dog, a hideous, stealthy thing just waiting its chance to steal your beloved friend. It is not a new disease, or one for which there are inoculations. The disease is called “Trust”.

dog on leash

You knew before you ever took your puppy home that it could not be trusted. The breeder who provided you with this precious animal warned you, drummed it into your head. Puppies steal, destroy anything expensive left in their path, chase cats, take forever to house train, and must never be allowed off lead!!

When the big day finally arrived, heeding the sage advice of the breeder, you escorted your puppy to her new home, properly collared and tagged, the lead held tightly in your hand.

At home, the house was “puppy-proofed” . Everything of value was stored in the spare bedroom, garbage stowed on top of the refrigerator. Cats separated, and a gate placed across the living room to keep at least one part of the house puddle free. All the windows and doors had been properly secured, and signs placed in all strategic points reminding all to “Close the door!”

Soon it becomes second nature to make sure the door closes nine tenths of a second after it was opened and that it is really latched. “Don’t let the dog out” is your second most verbalized expression. (The first is “NO!”) You worry and fuss constantly, terrified that your darling will get out and disaster will surely follow.

Your friends comment about who you love most, your family or the dog. You know that to relax your vigil for a moment, you might lose her forever.

And so the weeks and months pass, with your puppy becoming more civilized every day, and the seeds of trust are planted. It seems that each new day brings less destruction, less breakage, less leakage. Almost before you know it, your clumsy, wild puppy has turned into an elegant, dignified friend. Now that she is a more reliable, sedate companion, you take her more places. No longer does she chew the steering wheel when left in the car. And darned if that cake wasn’t’ still on the table this morning. And, oh yes, wasn’t that the cat she was sleeping with so cozily on your pillow last night?

At this point you are beginning to become infected, the disease is spreading its roots deep into your mind. And then one of your friends suggest obedience classes, and, after a time, you even let her run loose from the car into the house when you get home.. Why not, she always runs straight to the door, dancing a frenzy of joy and waits to be let in. And, remember she comes every time she is called. You know she is the exception that disproves the rule. (And sometimes late at night, you even let her slip out the front door to go potty and then right back in.)

Years pass – it is hard to remember why you ever worried so much when she was a puppy. She would never think of running out the door left open while you bring in the packages from the car. It would be beneath her dignity to jump out the window of the car while you run into the convenience store. And when you take her for those wonderful long walks at dawn, it only takes one whistle to send her racing back to you in a burst of speed when the walk becomes too close to the highway. (She still gets in the garbage cans, but nobody is perfect!)

This is the time the disease has waited for so patiently. Sometimes it only has to wait a year or two, but often it takes much longer.

She spies the neighbor dog across the street, and suddenly forgets everything she ever knew about not slipping outdoors, jumping out windows or coming when called due to traffic. Perhaps it was only a paper fluttering in the breeze, a squirrel, a passer-by, or even just the sheer joy of running….

Stopped in an instant. Stilled forever – your heart is broken at the sight of her still beautiful body.

The disease is trust. The final outcome, hit by a car.

Every morning my dog bounced around off lead exploring. Every morning for seven years she came back when she was called. She was perfectly obedient, perfectly trustworthy. She died fourteen hours after being hit by a car. Please do not risk your friend and your heart.

Save the trust for things that do not matter..