Unconditional love...Have you ever experienced it?
Do you know, I experience it every SINGLE day. Yes, I am not kidding you. And no, not necessarily from Sean, my husband, although I love him with all my heart, but from Zoey, my dog.
We adopted Zoey in July 2013, a month after we got married. I remember telling Sean that I was ready to take care of something else other than myself and him, and no I was not referring to a baby quite yet, but I was SO ready for a dog. Sean told me we could get a dog someday when we had a backyard. We live in a condo in the city of Chicago without a backyard and I knew in my heart that we were going to be in the city and our condo for awhile. I couldn’t wait another few years to have a backyard and wait to have a dog. So I convinced Sean that it was time to get a dog. We went to a PAWS event in Lincoln Square and I saw Zoey and could not get over her beautiful markings and spots. I just knew I had to have this specific half Great Dane and half German Shorthaired Pointer puppy.
And well, the rest is history...She has completely changed our lives for the better in every sense of the word. She has prepared us for future parenthood, medical bills, bathroom accidents, destroying clothes or furniture while playing or teething, she has taught Sean to be more social with neighbors and strangers, and she brings joy to every child, senior citizen, and stranger she meets. You cannot hide your feelings from Zoey. She’s the best support dog out there. I have held her paw through every death including the sudden death of my father 5½ years ago, through each of my four miscarriages, and every single IUI and IVF injection. I bare my soul, dreams and fears to her EVERY SINGLE day. And guess what? She takes it with a smile and asks for nothing in return except pets, food, walks, and unconditional love.
The very best part of having a dog is they teach you how to love unconditionally and to be present. Zoey never gets mad or frustrated with Sean or I. Impatient? Yes! But angry or resentful?? Oh no. If you run out of the house and come back five minutes later, it is literally like Christmas to her. She cries happy tears and jumps up to kiss you like you’ve been gone for ages. They’re always happy to see you and never want you to go. I mean some might call it obsession, but I call it unconditional love.
They have feelings too. For example, Sean and I traveled Europe for about 3 weeks in September and one of my old students watched her. They had such a blast together, but then Sean and I hadn’t traveled anywhere since September and were just in Florida for 4½ days. Not even an hour after we had left, my dog sitter had told me that Zoey shredded her doggy bed.
She was acting weird the day prior to us leaving because she saw the suitcases out for the last few days as we were packing. No doubt she had fear that maybe we would leave her again for another 3 weeks. They’re so much like humans experiencing sadness or anxiety when their loved ones leave.
Now I do not have any biological children yet, but Zoey has helped teach me how to advocate and speak up for her. Dogs don’t speak and don't cry or wail like children do. They cannot express in words how they are feeling or if they are hurting. You just really need to listen to them and know them in order to spot when something is off.
Call it mother’s intuition like I do. I know when something is off, I can see it in her eyes and I can tell it in her walk when she’s in pain. And I ache when she is hurting or something is just not right. She has taught me how to be present, advocate for those vulnerable, and to love her unconditionally, even if she’s just chewed up a new bathroom rug. My love for Zoey is unconditional, it never wavers, and there is nothing she could do that would make me hate or love her any less. Shout out to all the loving animals in the world. If you have a pet, squeeze them a little tighter today.
Have you experienced unconditional love like this? If so, how has this kind of love changed your life? Comment and/or post a picture of your loving pet below!