November 10, 2022

Adventures in Dog Sitting: A Showcase in Trust

Nate LeBlanc

Note: For a more complete experience of this post, listen to Africa by Toto before or during reading. If you wish to read and listen at the same time I’ll tell you when to start.

Adventures in Dog-Sitting

I’m definitely a dog person, having grown up with a couple of family dogs as a boy. So when I was asked to dog-sit for some dear friends, I thought “How hard could taking care of a puppy really be?”

I soon found out.

Gwin is a biting machine, playfully mouthing at people who pet her, gnawing on her food dish after she empties it, and ripping at her leash more than her toys.

We had a couple of biting mishaps throughout the two weeks. First, Gwin tore a couple holes in the living room rug. Then she got a hold of a vinyl record sleeve from the shelf and tore it to shreds.

Nervously I contacted her owners, a delightful older couple on a bucket list trip to Maine before terminal disease renders one of them bed-bound.

I was afraid. I had gone into these two weeks confident they would return to Gwin in perfect health and to a home just as they left it, and I had failed.

They listened as I explained the situation, then answered with calming laughter and apologized for not telling me she NEEDED to be left in her pen if I was going to be away for more than a couple hours, and always at night.

Armed with that information I went about my business, feeding her, walking her, playing with her, and following their new nstructions until miss bites-a-lot returned with a vengeance.

I walked into the house one afternoon to find Gwin sitting in her closed pen with a guilty look on her face… and mattress stuffing all over the floor.

Guilty Gwin after tearing up her mattress

There was really no alternative - I had to stay over to keep an eye on her at night.

That first night I ended up falling asleep on their comfortable leather recliner but a grunting Gwin ripping at her mattress woke me up.

I let her out of her pen thinking she needed to go outside, but she stayed in with me when I opened the back door. She didn’t want water either, so I went back to the chair, only to have her jump up and lay in my lap for about 10 minutes for pets before leaping up on another chair, circling around, and dozing off.

We shared the next four nights in different sleeping configurations, us both on the couch, me on the couch and her on the floor. Once she even went back into her open pen while I slept on the couch.

The Benefits of Trust

Upon reflection there was really no reason to be afraid to call and let my friends know about their possessions.

We have grown quite close over the last three years, swapping baked goods, sipping whiskey and wine around campfires, rigging up a pulley system to pass dinner over the fence, and having wheeled desk chair races down our one-way street during the COVID lockdown. We’ve also had those deep talks where the speaker chokes up and the tears flow.

In short, we trust each other.

Trust is the bedrock of our friendship and, when duplicated and shared in groups, serves as the bedrock of our society.

Trust is required for all society, not just society as we know it

So why was I so nervous for that phone call? Superficially I was afraid I would be held personally responsible for the doggie-damaged property.

But even worse, perhaps their opinion of me would go down the drain and seen as incompetent and untrustworthy.

It wasn’t that I believe their opinion of me changes my value. I hadn’t done anything wrong and puppies have a knack for mischief right under their owners’ noses. It was merely the possibility it could happen.

After all, we’ve all been judged on superficialities at one time or another, and we’ve probably had circumstances beyond our control affect another’s opinion on us with some serious consequences.

It hurts.

It isn’t right, but it happens – and it happens more often when someone has very little experience with us to base a judgment on.

Earned trust is a safety net that protects us from unjust perceptions. It helps us to make judgments and be judged based on our character and our goodwill towards others.

Mistakes still happen of course, but it’s much easier to look past a mistake when someone has a proven track record of some mixture of credibility, reliability, and vulnerability we find appealing.

If we find ourselves in trusting relationships, we’re often the beneficiaries of such merciful judgments. Sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Mired in Mistrust

Mistrust is running rampant in our world today and takes its toll on families, industries, and policymakers.

It manifests as petty “he said-she said” arguments instead of meaningful discourse, overly-protects individuals and institutions to the detriment of others when justice demands consequences, and keeps us walking on eggshells.

For a quantitative analysis of mistrust, this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer research sports headlines of “Government and Media Fuel a Cycle of Distrust” and “Failure of Leadership makes Distrust the Default”

According to their statistics, Government and Media are seen by the general public as divisive forces, while the only unifying force is Business (just barely). Ask ten people whether they see business as a unifying force for our society, and only four out of six agree.

So does that mean all hope is lost or that Big Business is primed for a takeover? Not necessarily. In May 2020, Government was the most trusted force on the planet before falling precipitously by ten points in the last two years (media fell by 6 points in the same time frame).

Drowning in Mistrust

My guess is Government took the lead during the coronavirus pandemic, said they were working on an answer and rallied others in seeking that answer.

In general humans are an optimistic bunch, always in search of answers and ready to place their hope in those who are leading us to those answers.

So how do we regain trust? What happened to the trust in Government? And now that business is the only trusted force according to Edelman, what responsibility comes with that power?

These are big questions we’ll try to answer in the coming weeks during our exploration of the role trust plays in business.

For now though, I want us to all hop on a plane to Africa… (you can start the song now)

The Greatest Song Ever, According to Science

Yes, you read that right. It’s controversial of course, but many people (including scientists who study such things) consider Africa by Toto the greatest song ever.

It boasts a catchy intro, instantly recognizable choruses and verses, and a classic bridge. The lyrics are easy to sing, but hold a deeper meaning as explained by The Pop Song Professor. Musically, the song uses interesting chord progressions and timing to surprise the listener and keep the song fresh, says 12Tone on his YouTube channel.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Spoiler alert in case you want to watch the videos, the Pop Song Professor explains the song is written from the perspective of a missionary to Africa endeavoring to help the individuals he meets, but who is also captivated by the land he discovers.

It is clear the singer is in search of something, perhaps meaning, redemption, or peace, weaving lyric threads like “the moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation,” and “I stopped an old man along the way hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies,” and “I know that I must do what's right as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti,” only to be tied together by “I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become.”

As I listened to Africa today as prompted by a happy memory, I thought about how I was so recently unnerved by this confrontation over a chewed up carpet and record sleeve - things so small and superficial - and that I had placed my focus on the possibility I could lose friendship so dear over something so small.

Generalizing these concerns, how often do we fear loss or being relegated to lesser status when small matters happen between friends, colleagues, and business partners? How often do we lose trust in the trust that has been built between us? What do we become when confronted with difficulty?

We have two choices.

First can we get stuck in the cycle of distrust so prevalent according to Edelman and descend to something less than human - something I am afraid of because of my recently shown ability to abandon trust.

Second, we can choose to lean on the trust we have built, recognize there is more to life than the small things and believe we’ll have others who stand with us despite the occasional mistake or disagreement.

If we choose the first, we run the risk of becoming like the wild dogs who “cry out in the night” as we “grow restless, longing for some solitary company” needing to know they aren’t alone, just like little Gwin.

I won’t venture to analyze the relationship between man and man’s best friend, but I have to imagine dogs are capable of developing some primitive form of trust with the humans who take care of them.

As humans though, the trust we form with others can reach amazingly great depths. Its complexity also makes it subject to crumbling due to a variety of factors.

So what really is trust? Why is it important? How do we build and maintain it? How much should we trust? And finally, how do we incorporate trust into our work and our larger lives?

My optimistic spirit, doubling as the old man in song, brings a smile to my face when I think about the prospect of discovering the answers as if to say, “hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you.”

Let’s go find them.

Post Summary

In the first post in a series about the importance of trust in life and work, Nate recounts his adventures dog sitting a Corgi who loves to bite and notices trust is laced throughout even the smallest moments of everyday life.

This article was written, edited and published by members or collaborators of the Doorward Team. Doorward Inc. maintains a positive outlook on the inherent dignity of each: their singular ability to reason and create, to choose and likewise be responsible for their decisions. We defend their best intentions and affirm each person’s freedom to express their own thoughts and opinions and experiences, and to engage in civil discussion regarding them.

This article is meant to be thought-provoking, and is not intended to be specific direction for the topic of this post. Please do your own research and consult the appropriate people for guidance before making a decision related to the topic of this post.

Note: For a more complete experience of this post, listen to Africa by Toto before or during reading. If you wish to read and listen at the same time I’ll tell you when to start.

Adventures in Dog-Sitting

I’m definitely a dog person, having grown up with a couple of family dogs as a boy. So when I was asked to dog-sit for some dear friends, I thought “How hard could taking care of a puppy really be?”

I soon found out.

Gwin is a biting machine, playfully mouthing at people who pet her, gnawing on her food dish after she empties it, and ripping at her leash more than her toys.

We had a couple of biting mishaps throughout the two weeks. First, Gwin tore a couple holes in the living room rug. Then she got a hold of a vinyl record sleeve from the shelf and tore it to shreds.

Nervously I contacted her owners, a delightful older couple on a bucket list trip to Maine before terminal disease renders one of them bed-bound.

I was afraid. I had gone into these two weeks confident they would return to Gwin in perfect health and to a home just as they left it, and I had failed.

They listened as I explained the situation, then answered with calming laughter and apologized for not telling me she NEEDED to be left in her pen if I was going to be away for more than a couple hours, and always at night.

Armed with that information I went about my business, feeding her, walking her, playing with her, and following their new nstructions until miss bites-a-lot returned with a vengeance.

I walked into the house one afternoon to find Gwin sitting in her closed pen with a guilty look on her face… and mattress stuffing all over the floor.

Guilty Gwin after tearing up her mattress

There was really no alternative - I had to stay over to keep an eye on her at night.

That first night I ended up falling asleep on their comfortable leather recliner but a grunting Gwin ripping at her mattress woke me up.

I let her out of her pen thinking she needed to go outside, but she stayed in with me when I opened the back door. She didn’t want water either, so I went back to the chair, only to have her jump up and lay in my lap for about 10 minutes for pets before leaping up on another chair, circling around, and dozing off.

We shared the next four nights in different sleeping configurations, us both on the couch, me on the couch and her on the floor. Once she even went back into her open pen while I slept on the couch.

The Benefits of Trust

Upon reflection there was really no reason to be afraid to call and let my friends know about their possessions.

We have grown quite close over the last three years, swapping baked goods, sipping whiskey and wine around campfires, rigging up a pulley system to pass dinner over the fence, and having wheeled desk chair races down our one-way street during the COVID lockdown. We’ve also had those deep talks where the speaker chokes up and the tears flow.

In short, we trust each other.

Trust is the bedrock of our friendship and, when duplicated and shared in groups, serves as the bedrock of our society.

Trust is required for all society, not just society as we know it

So why was I so nervous for that phone call? Superficially I was afraid I would be held personally responsible for the doggie-damaged property.

But even worse, perhaps their opinion of me would go down the drain and seen as incompetent and untrustworthy.

It wasn’t that I believe their opinion of me changes my value. I hadn’t done anything wrong and puppies have a knack for mischief right under their owners’ noses. It was merely the possibility it could happen.

After all, we’ve all been judged on superficialities at one time or another, and we’ve probably had circumstances beyond our control affect another’s opinion on us with some serious consequences.

It hurts.

It isn’t right, but it happens – and it happens more often when someone has very little experience with us to base a judgment on.

Earned trust is a safety net that protects us from unjust perceptions. It helps us to make judgments and be judged based on our character and our goodwill towards others.

Mistakes still happen of course, but it’s much easier to look past a mistake when someone has a proven track record of some mixture of credibility, reliability, and vulnerability we find appealing.

If we find ourselves in trusting relationships, we’re often the beneficiaries of such merciful judgments. Sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Mired in Mistrust

Mistrust is running rampant in our world today and takes its toll on families, industries, and policymakers.

It manifests as petty “he said-she said” arguments instead of meaningful discourse, overly-protects individuals and institutions to the detriment of others when justice demands consequences, and keeps us walking on eggshells.

For a quantitative analysis of mistrust, this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer research sports headlines of “Government and Media Fuel a Cycle of Distrust” and “Failure of Leadership makes Distrust the Default”

According to their statistics, Government and Media are seen by the general public as divisive forces, while the only unifying force is Business (just barely). Ask ten people whether they see business as a unifying force for our society, and only four out of six agree.

So does that mean all hope is lost or that Big Business is primed for a takeover? Not necessarily. In May 2020, Government was the most trusted force on the planet before falling precipitously by ten points in the last two years (media fell by 6 points in the same time frame).

Drowning in Mistrust

My guess is Government took the lead during the coronavirus pandemic, said they were working on an answer and rallied others in seeking that answer.

In general humans are an optimistic bunch, always in search of answers and ready to place their hope in those who are leading us to those answers.

So how do we regain trust? What happened to the trust in Government? And now that business is the only trusted force according to Edelman, what responsibility comes with that power?

These are big questions we’ll try to answer in the coming weeks during our exploration of the role trust plays in business.

For now though, I want us to all hop on a plane to Africa… (you can start the song now)

The Greatest Song Ever, According to Science

Yes, you read that right. It’s controversial of course, but many people (including scientists who study such things) consider Africa by Toto the greatest song ever.

It boasts a catchy intro, instantly recognizable choruses and verses, and a classic bridge. The lyrics are easy to sing, but hold a deeper meaning as explained by The Pop Song Professor. Musically, the song uses interesting chord progressions and timing to surprise the listener and keep the song fresh, says 12Tone on his YouTube channel.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Spoiler alert in case you want to watch the videos, the Pop Song Professor explains the song is written from the perspective of a missionary to Africa endeavoring to help the individuals he meets, but who is also captivated by the land he discovers.

It is clear the singer is in search of something, perhaps meaning, redemption, or peace, weaving lyric threads like “the moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation,” and “I stopped an old man along the way hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies,” and “I know that I must do what's right as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti,” only to be tied together by “I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become.”

As I listened to Africa today as prompted by a happy memory, I thought about how I was so recently unnerved by this confrontation over a chewed up carpet and record sleeve - things so small and superficial - and that I had placed my focus on the possibility I could lose friendship so dear over something so small.

Generalizing these concerns, how often do we fear loss or being relegated to lesser status when small matters happen between friends, colleagues, and business partners? How often do we lose trust in the trust that has been built between us? What do we become when confronted with difficulty?

We have two choices.

First can we get stuck in the cycle of distrust so prevalent according to Edelman and descend to something less than human - something I am afraid of because of my recently shown ability to abandon trust.

Second, we can choose to lean on the trust we have built, recognize there is more to life than the small things and believe we’ll have others who stand with us despite the occasional mistake or disagreement.

If we choose the first, we run the risk of becoming like the wild dogs who “cry out in the night” as we “grow restless, longing for some solitary company” needing to know they aren’t alone, just like little Gwin.

I won’t venture to analyze the relationship between man and man’s best friend, but I have to imagine dogs are capable of developing some primitive form of trust with the humans who take care of them.

As humans though, the trust we form with others can reach amazingly great depths. Its complexity also makes it subject to crumbling due to a variety of factors.

So what really is trust? Why is it important? How do we build and maintain it? How much should we trust? And finally, how do we incorporate trust into our work and our larger lives?

My optimistic spirit, doubling as the old man in song, brings a smile to my face when I think about the prospect of discovering the answers as if to say, “hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you.”

Let’s go find them.

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