Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Little Trust

"My Pet Dog Turbo" - By DylanImage by rachel_r via Flickr
"Can I pet your dog?" she asked with a winning smile. "Of course," I replied and my dog eagerly wagged his agreement. She and her sister were playing a game to see which one could pet the most dogs in PetSmart yesterday. Not that I would have, but there was such confidence and trust in her smile that I couldn't have turned down her request had I tried.

You can't pet just any dog. They really are like people; some only look approachable. Once you're near enough to tell, there's a reserve, a reticence that says, "Look, but don't touch." Clearly, the young girl had been instructed by her mother to be polite and ask first, always good advice.

But what struck me about it all was her trust. There were other children in the store but only she and her sister were going about, petting one dog then another. Even her sister (I think they were twins), whom I met later, wasn't quite as certain as Girl Number One (I never got names).

As I say, she wasn't incautious; she knew to ask, but her manner not only suggested a confidence that I would approve but one that made me wish to approve. I'm sure both she and my dog would have likely been disappointed had I refused, but I don't think that would have stopped her from looking elsewhere for another "objet de petting." She was too engaged, too willing to put herself forward, to allow a setback to get in her way.

Trust reproduces itself. It doesn't do, expecting to be trusted while being suspicious of everyone else. I'm not saying we should be naive -- the girl I mentioned was far from that -- but naivete is not the only option. Being confident that our trust will be reciprocated is a much better one. After all, it would be tragic to go through life never having petted at least one dog.

(Image via Flikr: "My Pet Dog Turbo" by Dylan)

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