In the book Shiloh, written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, one of the prevalent
themes that is developed from the very beginning is that of trust. This is shown when the
boy first sees Shiloh emerge from the woods as he is taking a walk. The dog cowers,
acting as if someone has beaten him in the past. What is interesting about the scene is that
the dog seems to sense the boys gentle nature towards animals and his reluctance to be
cruel in any way. This is clear when the young man says, Theres a broken branch
hanging from a limb out over the water, and Im wondering if I can bring it down with
one shot. I raise my gun, and then I think how the sound might scare the dog off. I decide
I dont want to shoot my gun much that day.

His focus is not on what he wants to do, but what is best for the dog. He also
instinctively knows that the dog wants to walk with him. When his father takes him over
to Judds house to return the dog, the boy holds onto to Shiloh and tells the man not to
kick at him. He tries to protect Shiloh the best he can from the abuse the man hands out,
and the dog knows who the better person is in this case. He readily goes to the boy when
he whistles, and trusts him over the cruel owner.

Throughout this story the author draws on the deep empathy between Shiloh and
the boy, showing the gentle trust that builds between the two from the first moment that
they meet. The small moments that define this trust are woven into the tale with ease,
building the relationship into one that is clearly based on a deep connection between
the two.


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