What’s amazing about adopting a old dog is the experience of gaining their trust.
There is something special, almost sacred about gaining someone else’s trust. When that someone is an old adoptable dog, the experience is out of this world. It can be life changing for both dog and person.
From my first meeting with an old dog in the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue doggy loft, I observe their manner. I watch each dog for signs of interest, or aloofness. I love these old timers but I am in no hurry or rush. No one wants to be overwhelmed when they are in a new place. My job as a volunteer, and as a human being is to remind these sugar faces that they are in a good place. We are on their side.
Gaining the trust of a dog who doesn’t know you, and one who is quite elderly isn’t easy. You have to be thoughtful. I take a slow approach with lots of opportunities for a dog to walk away, sleep in (I work morning shifts), or otherwise avoid any engagement beyond a distant visual or verbal. I am on their side. We want the same thing.
I love the chance I have to show and shower the dogs with affection in whatever format they need. Some oldsters just want a friendly face and voice, with some warm blankets added. A few others respond favorably to my welcoming and encouraging words. We’ll meet eyes and more than one dog will wag a tail, and approach me. A few may bark their greeting but wait for me. I aim to please all types.
What is amazing about gaining an old dog’s trust is how the whole process unfolds like a flower, or origami crane. It is beautiful. It is slow and precise. The entire experience is unique to the individual dog. I love watching a dog recognize they are in a safe space, that the possibility of letting their guard down is in front of them. My heart grows with each step they make.
With every tail wag, each time I get a soft glance, or a quiet lean into my side, I am humbled. The experience of adopting my adult dog and gaining her trust changed me forever. Today I spend my volunteer shifts showing older dogs what it looks like and feels like to have a person offer them unconditional love, and compassion. I strive to remind them, or if it’s a new experience, to teach them, that there are worthy human companions for them out there to trust their heart to.