You have heard this saying before haven't you? I have had waiters tell me "trust me" that calamari is the best there is. Or the doctor who told me, "trust me" this suture won't hurt. It really is a loaded statement and requires the receiver to be onboard and trusting of what you are about to do. Sometimes the statements I mentioned have been accurate and other times not so much. In the woofer world, we have many woofers in our pack that trust the minute their noses sniff you out. Whereas, other woofers need some extra time. Trust me on this....trust was eventually gained, but definitely with some effort.
Pictured above with this year's first snowfall adorning his head, a black German Shepherd with some trust issues. Roxy(Kuma's cousin) and her mom, thought introducing us to each other could get Kuma back to enjoying the outdoors in the absence of his owners. What I appreciated most is that Kuma’s parents “trusted me” with all the knowledge I could share in getting Kuma to a more balanced state. I did not show up and demand for Kuma to walk with me. I took things slowly.
Resistant to leave his house initially, we walked around the yard for the first two weeks. I would have to coax him out the door with some treats. After a few weeks, we ventured down the street with me leading the way and we continued on this path with Kuma relinquishing some of his distrustfulness along the way.
Only a month into my hoofer relationship, Kuma’s parents announced they were moving. In all honesty, I didn’t have high hopes that it would be a smooth transition as it was to a townhouse complex with lots of dogs. I'd like to add Kuma is dog reactive and car reactive.
In the end, the move wasn't a setback as the trust carried over between us into the new location. Currently, upon my arrival, Kuma is waiting at the door. In the past, I would have to find him in the house, often sprawled out on his owner’s bed reluctant to leave. He now greets me with his father’s shoe in his mouth accompanied by an adorable happy cry and wagging tail.
How did I gain his trust? I gave him time to get to know me, I took an authoritative role to let him know I’ve got this, and I rewarded him along the way with liver treats; even with the smallest accomplishments. To see him look me in the eyes when he once looked away....”trust me” it can make me shed a tear.
Roxy the Rebel
So Roxy, a pit bull mix, did not trust me at all initially even with her sister Bella’s reassurance that I was trustworthy. I remember the first visit like it was yesterday. I entered the house and was met with her pacing and growling. This is the part I can’t recall. Somehow, I was able to get my rather cumbersome harness on her and get her out the door for our walk. “Trust me on this” to do it all over again I wouldn’t for my own safety.
Fast forward almost two years, I have gained her trust. How do I know this? She is barking at the door excitedly at my arrival, she looks me directly in the eyes without issue, and she shares her fuzzy blanket on the couch willingly. While on walks she will check-in with me for reassurance that all is ok. Perhaps one of my fondest accomplishments is that I had gotten her to change her mind and “trust me” that all would workout in the end. She now gives me kisses which I view as a thanks for not giving up on me.
I met this gentle giant, a Great Dane, about one year ago in her cute little cape cod home that she basically overpowered with her mere size. When she heard the key in the door, she’d put her tail between her legs and move onto her bed. Did she trust me? Not yet, but I understood since she had only met me during a meet and greet for 30min. I would sit alongside her on her raised platform bed and would pet her and reassure her that we would have a great time on the walk. At the beginning she walked with her tail between her legs and NEVER would poop while on our walks; way too vulnerable of an act. She often looked around skeptical of sounds, lawn ornaments, and some people. Darling Darla today has since moved and looking back, I think the trust myself and the other Hoofers built with her brought her comfort with the transition into her expansive new home.
Present day, upon our arrival she now wags her tail, prances around, and leans into my body to show her affection. She even poops on walks! Honestly, I preferred when she’d poop in her yard, it’s like carrying a 10 lb. weight! (Lol) Best of all, she stops and smells the roses because she trusts me and knows I’ve got her back!
“Trust” whether it be in the Woofer world or Hoofer world is a beautiful experience. “Trust me when I say” the most fulfilling part of hoofin’ is when you witness the journey of the release of mistrust into a trusting relationship. By the way, this goes both ways. I have trust in that they love us hoofers unconditionally and that our visits are the highlight of their day.
Interested in learning if your woofer has "trust" in you? Here's a great article highlighting some behaviors that will clue you in. If you haven't gained their trust yet, "trust me on this" it can be accomplished.
Written by: Karen Kane (the original Hoofer)