When does your pet fully trust you?
A stray thought that occured to me today, about pets and trust.
After over 20 years of having pets of all kinds, that came to our house in various stages of trauma and varying levels of experience with humans, there is way always one foolproof way to tell if an animal actually trusts you.
Removing eye crusts.
(I've only had mammals, so I can't speak for birds, repriles and other various and sundry animals, but this rule has held true for numerous cats, dogs, rats, hamsters, two rabbits and a cow.)
Just imagine it. You are likely tiny. Maybe you are big, but most likely small. Maybe you hunt, or maybe you run. Maybe you have paws with claws, or legs with hooves, or almost hands. And you get eye crusts.
Because eye crusts are inevitable when you have eyeballs that need to stay moist and lubricated. And while it's not usually painful or debilitating, it is uncomfortable, and you may not be able to get rid of it yourself.
Enter giant hairless apes with opposable thumbs.
But these apes could be dangerous. Eyes are extremely important but very sensitive, easily vulnerable. Mere carelessness is enough to lose one. Eye crusts are a bother, but removing them isn't worth risking losing such an important organ. If they go near your eyeball with their fingers, they will lose them swiftly, or at least learn better than to try again!
But when that hairless ape, far too big or barely bigger than you, has proven themself worthy of your trust... Then the risk seems acceptable.
So you have a crusty eye. Your paw isn't enough to get it out. It's a bother, but you manage.
Enter a giant hairless ape with opposable thumbs.
This giant hairless ape has been good to you, has provided you food, shelter, warmth and companionship. They have seen and touched your belly, your neck, your ears, and even your young. Not once have you come to harm. They see your eye is bothering you, so they lick one of their strange fingers and bring it to your eye.
You do not stop them, even though you could. The pad of their thumb is soft, but tipped with a claw. But they are careful, and the thin claw maybe skims your brow, but it does not harm your eye. Maybe you squirm, because it's not exactly comfortable, but you do not struggle or stop them, you do not run away.
Because you trust them. Trust that they will not hurt, only help. That they will be careful with you.
You blink, and your eye is clear. The crust is gone, and that strange hand with the opposable thumb is petting your head, your ears, your back.
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