The Ancient Bond Hachiko’s incredible connection to Ueno is an example of the compelling power of the human/canine bond. But other stories of canine loyalty abound: dogs who travel thousands of miles to rejoin their lost families; dogs who save drowning people; military dogs who sacrifice themselves to save their human partners; dogs who pull people from burning homes. The stories are legion and not uncommon.
The Solidarity of Work Different factors contribute to the existence of the human/canine bond.
The dog’s amazing, ancient work ethic, for instance, is part of what makes our bond so strong. The age-old desire of a retriever to fetch and retrieve a bird, for instance, is done not for food, but for the hunter’s affections. The human/canine bond, though, is found not only in hunting breeds, but in all types of dogs, no matter what they were bred to do. The herding dog and her relationship with her shepherd; the police dog and her K-9 officer; the search-and-rescue dog and her handler—the innate desire to work with humans has been hard-wired into our canine friends.
The Rescue Factor Dogs saved from dire circumstances often exhibit an intense connection with the rescuer. It can often be so pronounced that it results in stress for the dog; separation anxiety, destructive behavior, and fear of abandonment can sometimes become profound. This derives from the anxiety developed from being abandoned one or more times by persons who the dog thought were devoted, bonded partners. But once rescue dogs find a reliable, devoted person and are properly trained, cared for, and loved, they often become the most connected, passionate partners a human can ever know.
Affecting the Bond The human/canine bond is a deeply rooted understanding, measured in emotion, dependability, and mutual support. It is a need to belong and to feel wanted, useful, and safe.
Vary these parameters, though, and you affect the bond. Fail to give your dog affection, routine, dependability, training and boundaries, and you will weaken that unspoken connection. Abuse or ignore her, or fail to see to her basic needs and you could sabotage the intimate link that time has so artfully established. Anything that makes your dog feel unwanted, neglected, or afraid will lower the strength of the human/canine bond.