The first week we had with Neve was a whirlwind. Between negotiating feline/canine relations, being a newly minted pack leader and teaching a once cage bound dog to live in a house – our hands were full.
It wasn’t all couch cuddles and puppy licks from the start. This whole ‘having a family’ business was a lot for a sensitive greyhound to take in. Having read the books and the internets, I was well aware that it could take up to a year for Neve to really come out of her shell. Being together all day while I worked from home helped us form a tentative bond. I was there as her one constant and she looked to me for reassurance. She needed time to adjust to having a family and to feel secure before that magical human-dog bond I longed for would happen.
I couldn’t wait for Neve to love me. But being a first time rookie dog owner, I wasn’t sure how to know when we had bonded. I was not that familiar with dog language yet…how was I to know when she was my boo?
In the human world, we have verbal and non verbal ways to signal when we care for someone. Of course, there are the three magic words ” I love you”. Cuddles, kisses, declarations of devotion. Easy..now why couldn’t it be that straightforward with a dog? I’m pretty sure I’d seen a dog on the internet barking “I Ruff Roo”, it could be done.
But then I got to thinking. How many times had I experienced or seen someone say they cared for another, when actually that was untruthful. Words can be spoken, even if they are not meant. Actions can be taken, even if they do not express real emotion. How many times have you been given a ‘fake’ hug from someone, carrying out the act of affection due to social norms or wanting to appear sincere, even if they secretly hate your guts. Verbal and non-verbal cues of love can be easily put on , and do not always indicate the true feelings of the giver.
The trouble with humans is that we can talk and act in ways that are not in alignment with our true feelings. From the standard “I’m good thanks” to downright blatant and sometimes hurtful lies, us humans can be a tricky lot to read. Past experiences with this unauthentic side to humanity had left me with trust issues and a wall around my heart, to protect me from further hurt.
As time passed, Neve and I bonded and she showed me one of the most wonderful things about dogs. They are completely, truly, 100% authentic creatures. A dog does not lie. You always know exactly what a dog is feeling. From a wagging tail, to a slobbery lick, to puppy dog eyes when you are eating a bag of chips – every action a dog takes is a true reflection of their feelings.
I was able to know when Neve started to loved me, because she couldn’t lie. She couldn’t hide that wagging tail when I came home, or help herself from cuddling up to me and licking my face. When she was unsure, she came to me for reassurance. When we were apart, she pined. She didn’t hide her true feelings, for fear of being hurt or her love rejected. And so I responded in the same way, showing her the same unfettered affection that I had developed.
How wonderfully freeing it was, to be able to express my true and authentic feelings with another being, and have equally real feelings received back. It was so easy to fall in love with Neve (asides from her cute face) because I knew exactly how she felt about me. There was no wondering if she loved me back, or fear that she was only pretending to care about me. With Neve, it was clear exactly where we stood and that our bond was completely genuine. There was no threat of being hurt, because this creature’s love was pure and honest, breaking down the wall around my heart and allowing us to connect in just a short space of time.
How amazing would it be if all relationships were like that? If you knew exactly how your friends, your lover, your family were feeling, and that you could trust that their words and actions were 100% genuine? There would be no fear of rejection, or pain from hidden true emotions coming to light. People could build relationships easily and have deeper connections, safe in the knowledge that the foundation of the bond was based on real and authentic feelings.
Following Neve’s lead, I now try to be authentic in all my interactions. I don’t hide behind my walls anymore. I give honest answers, warm hugs and speak from my heart. I hope that in doing so, those around me will respond back with the same authenticity, and we will be able to create more meaningful bonds.
What is one thing you could do today to be more authentic?
Love and realness,