What is it about big dogs that I love so easily? Is it their large body proportions? Their often out-sized personalities? This week when I met a new big shepherd-like boy at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, all of my empathy responded to his presence.
This dog came at me as soon as I entered the open doggy loft. He thrust his big plush head into my lap to say pet me. So I did. His thick fur was rich. I immediately smoothed his face and cleaned his eyes, telling him with my hands and expressions that he is loved, and in a safe place.
Some people get nervous when a big dog isn’t shy about telling you that they need and want you. This dog’s body language said he was open but wasn’t a pushover. He let me kiss his face, and enjoyed some cuddling but he wasn’t lazy about it. He seemed to orchestrate how you could engage with him, as if he was saying, “I want you to pet me, only right here, not there, and like this.”
He reminded me of when we first met our newly adopted dog. She was a big fluffy girl who acted very open and willing, but only to the untrained eye. In reality she was just showing you that her confidence in herself allowed people she barely knew to engage with her. But as we learned over time, she knew what she was doing and if you did something she didn’t like, you knew it.
Tag, the big shepherd boy, was showing me similar signs. What I hope to communicate to anyone interested in adding him to their home is this lesson. Trust him. Love him. Set him up for success, and he will be your fiercest buddy and confidante.