How do I love thee...let me count the ways. So begins an age-old poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She speaks of deep abiding love. Her words are full of passion and desire. She is most often quoted on Valentine's Day, I think.
And she is speaking of a man's love for a woman, or vice-versa. Human love. Person to person.
I am speaking of the love our pets feel for us - as demonstrated in this amazing story from Psychology Today. I am speaking of a bond of love that transcends anything humans can conceive of. We are so limited in our desires and warmth. Oh, I have experienced deep love more than once and more than once it has come back to bite me in the...well, to break my heart without remorse. Let's just say that.
We humans are so flawed, are we not?
Animals are not like that. Animals offer unconditional love. Our dogs and cats, and many other pets, become trophies for us, too often. When, in their hearts, we are the sun and moon and stars.
I anguish over the poor treatment too many of our animals get in this country, and across the world.
Why are humans so cruel? Cruel to each other, yes, but for the most part, we have the intelligence and ability to fight back. Those animals who are neglected or abused do not have a means to escape or find other homes, where love might wait for them.
Yes, at our house, we tend to spoil our fur-kids. These precious creatures mean as much to us as any of our friends, and some of our family. We take the love and care of them very seriously. And, they reward us with laughter, comfort, companionship, and the only true unconditional love there is - that of sincerity and continuity. In other words, they don't love us one day and not the next. They forgive us when we're in those bad moods that prevent us from letting even them into our hearts. They understand, without words or recriminations, that our moods will change and the loving person we strive to be will return. They know that any incidents of theirs (oh, occasional pee spots on the rug, or a chewed up magazine), will be forgiven. They expect we will show them the way to behave, because they cannot learn without incentive. It's the nature of the beast, so to speak.
I count the ways I love my pets, as they count the ways to love us. No, they don't know their numbers as some smart dogs and cats and horse, and others, may know those kinds of things, having been taught by loving pawrents. But, they know the hours of the day and the days of the week, and when Saturday comes and we go into our office, as we are wont to do of late, they rebel because...Saturdays should belong to them. How true is that?
The human-animal bond is not some invention of crazy animal/pet loving folks. It's a true and real experience. It exists. It holds power and influence.
Oh, how do I love thee...let me count the ways - Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, "...to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight... For the ends of being and ideal grace."
Ideal grace. I leave you with that thought - love them with ideal grace. Do not break the bond.