What is unconditional love? What does it mean to be unconditional? I really don’t perceive it as a human trait…whether we realize it or not, we place conditions on those we chose to love. Good, bad or indifferent…a person’s appearance has a lot to do with us accepting them to be a part of our life. We as humans tend to be driven by looks…that is a big part of the attraction equation. I have had numerous relationships on various levels over my lifetime, as I’m sure you have too. Most of them, especially those which I thought to be ‘serious’, went by the wayside. Fourteen years ago, I quit pursuing those kinds of associations. It’s been less stressful for me, and I’m okay with it – that’s my choice. I no longer need to concern myself with what someone else thinks I should do, be, say or live….ah….no conditions!
Over the last five years I have become so involved in small dog rescue that ‘extra’ time is a luxury I do not have – I’m ‘sold out’ and physically spent with those responsibilities. I’m not complaining, it is a labor of love. Most people would never take on the magnitude of commitment I have, because it really does not allow for much of a life outside of the continual obligation necessary to try to keep up, which is a daily challenge! For me, it is an inborn passion….my very heart. I take it personally and I have very strong opinions regarding the care of dogs. I do not apologize for it, and I do not back down. Love me, love my dogs…period! They are family, and if you don’t like that status, don’t come over our house!
Most people cannot comprehend the time consumption of tending to multiple dogs, even though they’re all under fifteen pounds. It is my life. I rescue senior dogs. Many of mine are over the age of ten. If you were to come to our home for the day, especially on a weekend when I’m not working my full-time job, you might think I had ‘saved up’ some chores, but not so. This is typical ‘day in, day out’. We go for walks as time, weather and my stamina allows…but certainly not as much as I would like. I do not go to the State Fair or concerts or ball games or participate in other ‘outside of home’ entertainment. I rarely watch a movie at home…and a vacation? What’s that? There would certainly be no kenneling of my family members just so I could get away…and I don’t expect someone else to take on the responsibility!
There’s always a floor to sweep and/or mop, doggie blankets, beds and pottie pads to wash. Somepawdy not feeling well….diarrhea, skin issues, nails to trim, an impromptu bath because somepawdy rolled in poop in the back yard, medications to administer, shots to get at the vet, eyes to clean, teeth to brush, food to prepare (along with the couple dozen dishes to wash later, which I do ‘manually’). It never ends…if I think I’m done…it’s probably time to wake up in the morning and start all over again!
All this brings me to the point of this blog – unconditional love – more of a canine trait than a mortal one. But in the same sense, my dogs have taught me this over the past many years. Being so involved with dogs has really brought so much positive aspects to my life – their adoration for me has rubbed off. There are times I get frustrated and even upset and they are corrected, but never in an abusive or neglectful manner. I have zero tolerance for that. My love for them does not have ‘conditions’ attached, just as theirs does toward me. They may do something they shouldn’t, but I don’t stop loving them because of that. They are forgiving when they’d like to be ‘the only’ dog, but they’re not…mommy’s attention is very divided…I try to give to everybody, but it doesn’t always happen. I am spread very thin, and I do the best I can…sometimes when I don’t even physically feel like it.
Every domesticated dog deserves a loving home which involves no less than proper nutrition, medical care when needed, a safe, stress-free environment, and to know they are loved. I understand life can throw a curve ball, and place a person in dire circumstances, sometimes beyond their control, but more often that is not the case and it breaks my heart. I have picked up a lot of slack of other’s carelessness and irresponsibility. I will continue to do so as long as God allows, because the need is great and the workers are few. Dog rescue is a never ending battle. I know there are many who do more than I. I am grateful and thankful for each one who is helping on the front lines. There is no ‘free dog’…there is a constant expense and a lifetime commitment…maybe as long as twenty years. They are a blessing, their unconditional love for you will never end. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how much money you make, what kind of dwelling you live in, how old you are or what bad habits you have…they will love you and be loyal to you just the same. So if you want a true definition of unconditional love, look no further than a dog – they will leave a paw print on your heart fur-ever!