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 is
an inoculation. The disease is called Trust.
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 off counters, destroy anything expensive, 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 his 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, the garbage stored on top of the refrigerator.
Cats were separated, and a gate was 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 is 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 more,
your family or the dog. You know that to relax your vigil for a
moment might lose him to you forever.
And so the weeks and months pass with your puppy
becoming more civilized every day, and seeds of trust are planted.
It seems that each new day brings less destruction, less breakage.
Almost before you know it, your gangly, slurpy puppy has turned into
an elegant, dignified friend. Now that he is a more reliable, sedate
companion, you take him more places. No longer does he chew the
steering wheel when left in the car. And darn it, if that cake
wasn't still on the counter this morning. And, oh yes, wasn't that
the cat he 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 suggests obedience classes, and after a time, you
even let him run loose from the car into the house when you get
home. Why not? He always runs straight to the door, dancing a frenzy
of joy, and waits to be let in. And, remember he comes every time he
is called. You know he is the exception that disproves the rule.
(And sometimes late at night, you even let him slip out the front
door to go potty and then right back in.)
Years pass. It's hard to remember why you ever
worried so much when he was a puppy. He would never think of
running out the door left open while you bring in the packages from
the car. It would be beneath his dignity to jump out the window of
the car while you run into the convenience store. And when you take
him for those wonderful, long walks at dawn, it only takes one
whistle to send him racing back to you in a burst of speed when the
walk becomes too close to the highway. He still gets in the garbage,
but nobody is perfect.
This is the time the disease has waited for so
patiently. Sometimes it has to wait only a year or two, but often it
takes much longer, He spies the neighborhood dog across the street
and suddenly forgets everything he 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, or even just
the sheer joy of running. Stopped in an instant. Stilled forever.
Your heart is broken at the sight of his still body. The disease is
trust. The final outcome - hit by a car.
Every morning for seven years my dog bounced around
off lead exploring. Every morning for seven years he came back when
he was called. He was perfectly obedient, perfectly trustworthy. He
died fourteen hours after being hit by a car. Please do not risk
your friend and your heart. Save the trust for things that don't
matter. Please read this every year on your puppy's birthday, lest
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