You can tell a lot about someone by their reaction to the question, “do you like dogs?”
I have learned that the answer to the question often depends on what is at stake. I have dated my share of guys who answered in the affirmative who did not actually like dogs at all, but did like me. Next?
I eventually met a great guy and we became friends. Before we actually started dating but were heading in that direction, I asked him the question. He replied that yes, he did like dogs. In fact, he said that he always had a dog when he was a kid…and proceeded to tell me about his dog. Then he asked me about my dog.
(Let’s just say that it helped persuade me that a first date might be in order.)
I could have chosen to be cynical about love. I’ve had my share of bad relationships—I’ve lived through betrayal, abuse, heartbreak and even divorce—but I still believe in love and I celebrate and value all of the different kinds of love that I have in my life.
One of those kinds of love is the bond we humans share with our pets, and it is love in its simplest form, without all of the complications that we often bring to many of our relationships. This love does not have unrealistic expectations, or demand anything in return except care and affection.
My dog passed away a year ago at the ripe old age of (almost) fourteen years, but in the time that he spent with me, I learned much about love from my canine sidekick.
These are some of the best things my dog taught me about love:
1. Love is Unconditional.
It doesn’t matter if your hair is messy or you’re wearing yoga pants, you are the center of my universe and I’m always here for you. (Now, come closer so I can kiss you.)
2. Love means missing you when you’re not there.
Even when you’re only gone for five minutes, it feels like forever and I can’t wait to see you again. (And I will go on hunger strikes when you go away and it will take people two or three days to convince me to eat—okay, so that’s a little extreme, but it happened every time.)
3. Love is about spending time together—it doesn’t matter what we’re doing.
Those walks on the beach and those gifts you buy me fill me with joy, but I also love the quiet times when we’re just hanging out and watching a movie. (Can I put my head on your lap?)
4. Love means never wanting to disappoint you.
When I got old, we couldn’t do the things we used to do because my eyesight was bad and I had arthritis in my hips. I remember how sad you looked the day we came home from our last walk, the time that you knew the end was near. (It broke my heart.)
5. Love is expressed with gratitude.
All the times I’ve jumped for joy and furiously wagged my tail were my way of saying thank you. I am grateful for the life you have shared with me, the things you do for me and the love you give me in return. (I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone but you.)
6. Love is not destroyed by death.
You will grieve when I’m gone, but once that season has passed please don’t think about my death, celebrate my life and think about all of the times I made you laugh. (Remember that time when you gave me my first marshmallow?)
I’m writing these down and sharing them because the great thing about them is that these lessons apply to all different kinds of love. Once the word “love” enters the picture, it changes everything… and that’s a good thing because love stretches us and shapes us in ways that we could never imagine.
It’s important to celebrate love; life is short, there’s a lot of living (and loving) to do.
Oh, and that guy who told me about his dog? He is now my husband and father of my kids. He loved my crazy dog (eventually) just as much as I did.
And…we just got a new puppy.
Terri Tremblett is a freelance writer and editor who also works in finance and dabbles in various artistic pursuits. She is equally at home walking the beach or digging in the dirt but has not yet mastered the art of walking by a book store without going in. Her education did not end when she finished university, as her life regularly proves. She can sometimes be found behind her camera, often taking pictures of her kids, and learning about photography along the way.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta