Gus, Trust and Hu-Mom

Hu-Mom and I Learn about TRUST




It’s a big word. With a Soul Sessions talk from Brene Brown, Hu-mom is learning about trust. Like me, she lost trust.


What is trust? In The Thin Book of Trust, Charles Feltman defines trust. It is “choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”


In July of 2010, 5-1/2 years ago, Hu-mom saw a dog named “Barley” on our local no-kill shelter’s page. She said that my soft, fearful brown eyes and curly strawberry-blonde hair beckoned.



Knowing she would be a foster failure, Hu-mom stopped at Petco to buy treats and toys. (She did not imagine that it would me two years before I played with a toy.)


Hu-mom showed up at Furburbia with liver bites and chicken strips in her pockets.  When she came into my kennel, I made myself as small as possible in the corner.  I didn’t look at her.  My body shook.  She, however, scooped me up.  My whole body went rigid.

I was one of ninety dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri by a Utah rescue group.  Then, I became one of eight to come to Park City to find a forever home.  Everypawdy else went home, but me.  I was too scared to make a good impression.

The shelter director told Hu-mom, “He may never be a ‘normal’ dog.”

Research shows that trust is built by small insightful acts. Trust grows in small moments.

When I arrived home, I didn’t want to get out of my kennel.  Hu-mom pulled me out.  But, I’d run back in every chance I got.

Hu-mom thought I was a tough little dude, so she called me “Harley.”  It rhymed with “Barley.”

I didn’t speak.  Otherwise, I would’ve told her, “That’s not my name.”

For a long time, whenever I was out of my kennel, I’d just shake. I stood in the corner of the yard, with the fence behind my back and watched.

My big sister, Faith, a Bernese Mountain Dog, let me stand by her. I sat by her. She is so much bigger and stronger. But, she is gentle.

Hu-mom doesn’t have kennels in the bedroom, so I started sleeping on the pillows next to her.

Hu-mom put her hand on my heart and whispered, “This is your house.  This is your bed.  These are your pillows.  This is your family.  You will always be loved.  You will always have plenty of food.  You will always be warm, safe and dry.  I love you.”

In fact, she still does this. Every night. It is a small moment. It is a small act.

Hu-mom respected my boundaries and was reliable. She earned my trust. But. She worked for it.

When Hu-mom took the kennels out of the whole house, I made myself as comfortable as I could on the landing of the stairs.  Through the railing, I could survey the scene.

One day, I was sitting there while Hu-mom had a glass of wine with her friend, Elfie.  Yep, that’s really her name.  She’s a person, too.

Anyway, Hu-mom said, “Gus.”  I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head.

She learned my name.

That’s my name.  I share my name with Captain Augustus McCrae, a Texas Ranger, in the book, Lonesome Dove.  Like me, he just needed a second chance.

After about three months, I jumped up on the sofa.  Hu-mom was ecstatic.

I used to go upstairs to the bedroom or onto the landing when people came to visit.  Now, I sit on my sofa. Sometimes, I’ll even go up to visitors.

My big sister, Faith, helped me learn to bark, play, and run. Because of her size, her peaceful demeanor, and grace, I trusted her first.



Sometimes I have accidents in the house.  In fact, sometimes, I just mark. Yesterday, I marked Hu-mom’s yoga ball. She’s never yelled. She’s never said “no.” Instead, she just squirts it down with white vinegar.

It’s a small act that builds trust.

We consider my birthday, July 15, 2010.  That’s when I came to live with Hu-mom and the Hooker Horde.  We don’t talk about my previous life.

Most people get dogs because they want unconditional love.  I love in my own way.  It took me a little bit of time to learn how to love.  I helped Hu-mom learn patience.

It also took me a long time to learn how to trust.


I helped my Grandma after I learned to trust.

Last month, Hu-mom was hurt. It reminded me of when I was being groomed and the groomer nicked me.

There was a lot of blood on Hu-mom. She was shaking. She cried.

I never cried. When the groomer nicked me, I did not cry. When the vet stitched me up, I did not cry.

In the puppy mill, they docked my tail. But, I bet I didn’t cry.

But, when mom cried, I sat by her.

Last night, we watched The Anatomy of Trust. Hu-mom and I talked about BRAVING as it related to trust.

For me to learn to trust Hu-mom and my other human friends, my BOUNDARIES must be respected. Sometimes I need more space than others.

Just like Brown said in her lesson, I need RELIABILITY. Hu-mom did what she said she’d do. I am warm, safe, well fed, and loved.

It was hard. It still is hard. But, I have INTEGRITY. I choose courage over comfort. When we go out into the world, I prance. I smile. I play. I run.

Hu-mom is GENEROUS.

Each day, she repeats, “I am unconditional love, trustworthy and generous. I attract the same.”

I want Hu-mom to be GENEROUS with her.





About Julie Hooker

I'm a teacher, writer, and editor. In addition, I'm an animal rescuer, yogi, and friend.
This entry was posted in depression, faith, For the Love of Dogs, Fostering, Lonesome Dove and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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