Yukon is probably one of my most enigmatic dogs. Serene and contemplative when he's not playing. There is a sadness in his soul that is buried deep in his eyes. He has known betrayal and abandonment and is afraid at times to trust and love unconditionally. It has taken three years to finally let go of his hurt and realize that we will never allow that to happen to him again.
This morning he came to me full of love and the want for reassurance and company. He approached with tail wagging, a shy smile, body canted, ears back and head slightly lowered showing me respect and love. His tongue licked my lower jaw first, then my face as I rubbed his ears and belly. Knowing he had my acceptance of his attention, he put his front paws on the chair between my knees and leaned closer so that I could hug him. His head rested firmly on my shoulder in a return hug as he let out a sigh of contentment. I could feel the unconditional love, respect and adoration from him as clearly as I might my husband or son. He trusts me, and his faith is in me. I'm sure he felt my love, respect and adoration for him as well.
Our relationship is built on respect, trust and love. He respects my ability to provide for him and knows his world is controlled by me, at the same time he trusts that I am benevolent and will make sure he does not go hungry, and I will protect him from fear and pain. More than that, he loves me because I provide for him with love and has learned I would not betray that love.
For my part, I respect his power, his strength, agility and sheer athleticism and I provide him the venue to explore and revel in his power. It is beautiful for me to watch him run, and being a part of his pack when he runs is like no other feeling on earth. We are one, and we run because we can, and it is pure joy. I trust him that he will never lash out at me and will respect my wishes as I have his best interests at heart when I ask something of him. I reward him with love and with special treats for his good behaviors and for a reward for running with the pack.
I also respect he is a forever young and inquisitive mind, and keep alert for him getting in to things he shouldn't. But there is no fear in the admonishment, no bullying. He has learned that I would never hurt or bully him in to something he did not want to do, but I will intervene when his or another's safety is at risk.
The three years it has taken to build this relationship with him have been well worth it.