Unconditional love is an innate need for humans.  There is no exchange, negotiation, or quid pro quo involved; it is without agenda, guilt, envy or jealousy; it is pure.  Giving and receiving love is a two-way street. We must own not only what we need and make sure we get it, we must also be responsible for giving it in the way our loved ones need it.  Selecting wisely is important when choosing your pet and your relationships. Making it a conscious decision helps on the journey to living a fulfilled life.

Take my dog, Lilly.  No matter how long I am away from home, she quickly forgives me and shows her love in quirky ways.  She howls with excitement, she leaps for attention, she wags her tail uncontrollably and her energy shifts to one of happiness.  As a Tibetan Terrier, though, her nature is very independent. She does not like to snuggle, sit on your lap, or be picked up. If you try to pet her, she tolerates it for a very short period.  This may seem weird to you. Normally, we snuggle, squeeze and hold our dogs but she just can’t give me those signs. Without these typical markers, I still feel her love. She shows her love through instinct. She is always circling to ensure everyone is safe in their proper place. Her shrilling bark alerts me when she perceives danger, and the subtle wag of her tail when she sees me around the house show me she is happy to be in my life.  If I required her to love me the way I want to be loved, she would not be my dog. It is not natural for her to be a nurturing, warm and huggable soul. Does that mean she loves less? No, I would argue she lives every day to love us and feels good when she can do her job to show us that love. While I may never choose this breed again, because I would prefer a cuddlier fur baby, her level of love is never in question. I had to make the decision to receive her love the way she wanted to give it.

Prior to Lilly, a dog named Crackers was in my life. In contrast to Lilly, Crackers, a Lhasa Apso, was a snuggler.  She couldn’t get close enough, always wanting to sit where you sit, sleep where you sleep. Far from a protector, she would run and hide if someone came knocking at the door.  Her demonstrative love was more traditional for a small dog. She was my first baby and gave me lots of practice to give and receive unconditional love. When my daughter was born, Crackers knew her role in my life was shifting but she instinctively shifted with it and became nurturing of the new baby.   She knew that in order to love me, she had to love my child.

How smart these furry creatures are and how wonderful it is to enjoy their unconditional, all in, full of joy, love.    While Lilly never forgets, she forgives with ease. When she needs love, she nudges my hand to get a free petting. When she is sad, her tail goes down. When she is happy to see you, her entire body shows it.  Seems like I should take some cues from her while I can.

The sunny side is in the gift of knowing and asking for what you need and giving to others as they need.  Life couldn’t be sweeter!