It’s funny to think that there was a time that Teddy, the furry love of my life, felt like a stranger to me. But he did for a while.
I recently asked my wife Janie, “When did you know Teddy was, y’know, our dog?”
She didn’t take much time to think it over. “The night we drove him home,” she said. She and Teddy had sat in the back seat together. It was a two-hour drive, and he curled up with her, resting his head on her lap as she pet him. They were like that for almost the whole ride.
I took a little more time to bond with Teddy. For months, I felt like some strange wolfman was living in our house, getting into our trash while we were gone, running out the front door when we opened it, and stealing food off the counters when we weren’t looking. Then we took him on a 20-hour road trip from North Carolina to Maine. He was awesome in the car, he was sweet with our family, and he never once ran away into the wild woods of Maine. I found out that I could trust him on that trip. I also learned something my wife already knew. Teddy was our dog.
I asked some of my colleagues at Dognition the same question.
Becky, Dognition’s Chief Marketing Officer, said that her bond with Shirley didn’t seem to happen in one moment, but over time. Her husband had found Shirley as a stray, and at first they weren’t planning on keeping her. Eventually, they brought her to the vet to make sure she was healthy, and the vet asked her name. So they called her Shirley. Eight years later, Shirley is still theirs.
For Carmen, our experience designer, it was more like love at first sight. She even says she knew her dog was named Ernie from the moment she saw him. “I saw this itty-bitty ball of black fur running up to me and I immediately loved him,” she said. “It’s been magic ever since.”
Naming wasn’t even a factor in the case of research associate Kerri and her dog Jackson. She and her family visited a local shelter, where they met a “litter of fuzzballs mutts.” Each puppy was named after a letter in the alphabet. The family’s first two choices, E and B (the cutest one and the one with spots), were already spoken for. This left them with F, the one “with a scruffy, uneven coat and a belly full of worms.”
“We each took turns holding him, and within short moments we knew he was ours! He’s 11 years old now and reaching his golden years, but still as much a part of the family as he became that very first day.”
Is the canine-human bond so strong that we can feel it when it happens?
When did you know that you and your dog had bonded? When did you know your dog was yours?
(photo by YouthfulSins)
Charka was 9 months when she joined us. My earliest recollections involved putting in some fence with her… I’d dig holes and she would add a retrieve toy to remind me to mix work and play 🙂 She stuck right with me while I built the fence… We were on our way right from the beginning. She’s now 6 1/2 and we are still learning each other. Our bonding? Early start and a continuous process. The big-and-toothy-one is a very special pup… she honors me with her trust.
PaulBrady Thanks for sharing, Paul. Trust seems to be a major factor in bonding, huh?
Dognition IMHO, yes… at the least, it’s a recognition by canine and human that we’re walking a shared path. Charks is an ‘Expert’. She’d like to sort things out on her own if she can. My side of this is that I watch out for her so that her solutions are good ones. By now she feels like an extension of me… a rather fast, 80 lb extension 🙂
My first dog (Keyser Soze) and I bonded instantly – before I’d even formerly adopted him! He’s now 11 and we are still immeasurably close. My second, Bronx, took a LOT longer. I even considered returning him to the rescue group as he seemed devoid of any personality and was terrified and shut-down for months. It took probably at least 3 months for him to start showing signs he might get comfortable in his new life, and about 6 months until he was beginning to trust and bond with me. Luckily I stuck with him and he has taught be so much about dogs and how they think and we are very in-tune with each other now. He is 9.
For me and Brooks, my Giant Schnauzer rescue dog, it was love at first sight. For both of us. I will never forget walking into the kennel to meet him. I turned toward him at an angle, didn’t look him directly in the eye, and he looked up at me with the most soulful eyes I had ever seen (other than my husbands’ :)). We spent the day with Brooks in Denver before flying him home to Seattle the next day. At the end of a day of walking throughout a Denver suburb, he curled up in my lap (all 75 lbs of him) and went to sleep. It took a few months of work for Brooks to learn to trust us. As our trust of each other has strengthened, so has the way we interact. Even 2.5 years later, he continuously surprises us with his ability to communicate.
I chose Sheba from a litter of 4 at the shelter because she was a project. As part of my education to become a dog trainer, I had to train up a dog from puppy hood to certified canine companion using the latest (in the Philippines) mark and reward, purely positive methods. For weeks our relationship was kind and mutually respectful, but purely professional. One afternoon at the dog school, after showing off her skills, our instructor asked me how old she was. I looked at her from a distance and saw her playing lightly with her littermate and another dog. Then I saw her stop, rock back into a puppy sit, and look at me. I called her and she came running over. As I bent down to greet her I said “Five months today.” And it hit me that I loved her. She was not a project. She was mine. She’s now four years old, a CLASS graduate, and my favorite companion. She smiles at me a lot, and we laugh together.
We fostered Willow for nearly 4 months before we decided to adopt her. She was extremely fearful of people and places but LOVED dogs, and that was the key to reach her. We brought her home to live with us and our Lab Corbin, hand fed her and little by little she began to trust us. I didn’t really feel her as “mine” for a while though, and I didn’t really feel we were in danger of failing as foster parents for a while either. We were determined to find her the right home. Then one night, after 8 or so weeks with us, she had started to get happy, wiggly and excited whenever she saw me, and actively looking for affection and touch. It had aken me weeks to earn those things… anyways, I was laying in bed, and she slowly crept up beside/nearly on top of me (she was around 6 months old then, big shepherd puppy), licked my face and hands and proceeded to fall asleep on my chest, allowing me to rub her and put my arms around her. That was a HUGE step for her and a giant honor for me. That was it. We belonged to each other. Today, my little “Maverick” is a special dog, more like a wolf or a cat, where a bond starts on their terms, and when it happens, it can be an unbelievably strong thing. I love her beyond words.
NataliaMartinez A lovely tale!
How wonderful 🙂