Building Trust

By Chris Louttit

In beginning my coaching journey I never thought for one moment that I would be writing an article linked to Coaching on the subject of Trust, but applied to the canine setting. Perhaps I should explain!

My supervisor Lorna Reid and I share an interest in dogs. During my last programme day on the Level 5 Diploma for Professional Coaches and Mentors we got talking about Lorna’s idea of whether to get a dog or a cat for her household. The class was split. Some encouraged Lorna to get a cat, others a dog. I don’t remember anyone ‘sitting on the fence’ so to speak, nor entertaining the suggestion of a cat and a dog. It had to be one or the other. The two camps were divided!
Fast forward to my updates to Lorna on how my coaching was going and to my great delight, a return email with a picture of the most beautiful Cairn terrier called Cody. This started a separate conversation about me volunteering at Dogs Trust, and the resulting request from Lorna to consider writing a coaching article on trust in relation to working with the dogs at Dogs Trust.

And then I thought how interesting it is to be writing an article on trust, given the name of the organisation I volunteer for.
So what is Trust? Well it’s about reliance, having a position of obligation, having hope for the future and in providing care, all of which apply in a coaching setting. Interestingly though these descriptions also apply to a volunteering role at Dogs Trust.
First of all we have to recognise that any animal, particularly in a place of care is very much reliant on their carer. We have to realise that there is hope for the future in finding Dogs Trust dogs the most suitable home for their needs and circumstances, and in doing so we are helping individuals and families welcome a very special addition into their lives.

Trust in a Coaching setting is really not that different. By applying the EMCC Code of Ethics which states that ‘the coach / mentor is committed to functioning form a position of dignity, autonomy, and personal responsibility’ we can see how these expectations can translate into other settings.
Last weekend I walked a Staffordshire Bull terrier called T.J. and a Border Collie called Hugo; two very different dogs with different needs, but both now in a situation requiring them to trust Dogs Trust staff to meet their needs and hopefully secure them homes.
T.J. had been ‘booked’ to a family but Hugo hadn’t. In the short time I spent with both dogs I felt their trust in me. No matter their background or the hardships they had suffered, they were happiest with human company and affection. For me, I was glad of their trust. I had a willingness to know and learn about them, and felt honoured to spend time with them.

I visited the website last night. T.J. has went onto his new home and Hugo has found a new home. I shall miss them both, but in the short time we spent together they taught me lessons about trust that I know I can take with me, both into future coaching sessions, and into my Dogs Trust volunteering role again this weekend.

Chris Louttit

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