Happy Birthday Halo!
I know what Willy is getting at. I had that deep trust with my Labrador. My previous shepherd was awesome, and he trusted me in many ways, but it was different with the lab. There was something DEEP there. I get what Lies said about not being sure about a dog that would jump off a cliff if you asked, but here's an example, I think:
DH and I went backpacking in September to a high alpine lake, and we wanted to skirt around to this pass and see if we could get up to the top of it. There were several glacier moraine fields we had to pass through, and the last of them consisted of ginormous granite boulders--like 6-8'. Of course they're on edge, all tumbled about, and it was difficult navigation for us, let alone Rocket. He made it about 1/3 of the way, and then he started to freeze up. I suspect it was a combo of his feet hurting, because he was just learning the art of jumping and not landing right on an edge, but I also think it was because he couldn't quite visualize where he should go, or what was on the other side of each jump. He is young, was only 14 months old on that trip. He did what I asked him to do, but then he started hesitating. I tried to encourage him on a particularly bad part, but I could tell he just wasn't going to do it. I've "forced" him before, when I know it will boost his confidence. But this one was just a really sharp, jumbled area and I really didn't know how successful he would be, so I ended up going back and lifting him down--ooof-- and we turned back. Sigh. I figured we needed a bit more time together for him to trust me enough to jump exactly where I pointed. He did hold very still while I was lifting him down, which I've never practiced or taught him, so either he totally trusts me to hold him, or he somehow picked up on the fact that I was precariously perched myself and we would both fall if he didn't.
Now my labrador, would've potentially thought I was crazy, insane, and needed to be taken care of, but if I'd asked him to fly to the moon, he'd have done it in a heartbeat. That dog held himself back if I asked, he put himself out there if I asked, he even tolerated the cats laying with him on his bed if I asked him too (which he hated---they LOVED him but he really could've gone his whole life without them, heh). These are not extreme examples, but I don't really know how to explain it. I just look back at some of the things I asked him to do, to live with, and realize how faithful and tolerant he was. He did every single thing I ever asked of him, and he did it with his whole heart. He never questioned me once. And he was quite protective. We had some country road workers once call my house because my kids were playing out front and they needed to come down the driveway and my lab was standing in front of them, tail straight out, no growling, but everytime they'd take a step, he did too. (He never did the immediate "run up and be friends", unless it was to people he knew.) It freaked them out, lol. Also once, he stood in front of a subsitute-UPS guy 8 years ago, again, when my kids were playing out front and this time he did growl at the guy (one of the only times I ever heard him growl), who yelled at my kids. I found out this summer from a friend who is a UPS guy, that that sub driver was fired because he was charged with trying to burn down his house --WITH HIS WIFE AND KIDS IN IT-- after she filed for divorce. I trusted his judgement completely, and I was glad to see it validated, even after he was gone.
I'm not doing a very good job explaining it, but it was just this deep, deep bond that develops with time and the right chemistry. I think he was far more protective than many labs, because of that deep trust we had together. I look forward to developing that with Rocket, but I wonder if it will be the same, or if it's truly a matter of chemistry and each dog is different.