Dog love. It is not that different than People love, but for those who have been blessed and grateful enough to have experienced it in their lives, it hardly needs a description from me. When dogs show up in our lives and are seen as gifts, the kind you learn from and revel in, life is simply better and richer. Having loved some extraordinary dogs in my day, it got me thinking about the term “unconditional.” It is so often paired with the word love in describing that which our dogs give us daily. So, what are some ways that these beautiful beings bestow unconditional love?

Dogs don’t see color, and I don’t mean they are blind to the hues of the rainbow.  I mean they don’t distinguish people by their race. They could care less about that; they only care about the energy a person gives off, whether or not it is safe to approach, or if they will be received with acceptance, and without any negativity.  Dogs are stealth at uncovering authenticity in their human counterparts and ethnicity has no role in this assessment.

Dogs care more about who you are than what you do for a living.  Successful, highly paid actors have dogs, but so do homeless people, many of whom I have met, that swear the companionship they share with their animal is their life force.  I have witnessed these reciprocal bonds as nearly sacred. They help us remember to share the core of who we are, and not to be so concerned with what others think about what we do, especially as it pertains to a career.

Dogs will love you just as much if you are ill, disabled, depressed, or stuck at home in bed with the common cold. And, they will often rise to the occasion and lay extra close for comfort. In our family, we refer to all of our dogs as “Nurse Betty,” when this situation comes up. Never has one of our diverse dogs failed to “get” that we needed a little extra something that day.

Dogs unabashedly and without any calculated measure, are thrilled to see you whether you come in the door after being gone for two minutes to get the mail, or are gone for a few days. It’s true that the longer you are gone, the more intense your greeting will be, but the point is, they don’t have an agenda. They love because they are programmed to love.

Dogs will wear clothes. I don’t mean bandanas or, say, life jackets when boating. They allow people to put them in costumes, sweaters, hats, tutus…. Enough said.

They can walk into a hospital and by their simple presence grant healing. They are called social therapy dogs but really they are messengers of light.

If you gain weight and are hard on yourself, parade in front of your dog because she doesn’t care. She loves food too and is grateful for every meal, snack and treat she can receive. Be reminded by your dog to be gentle with yourself. Dogs lick us to say: “You are the best,” not “see you in twenty pounds.”

The list of what unconditional love by a dog really means is truly endless. Those of us who count gazing into our dog’s eyes, stroking their fur and kissing their heads, as a form of meditation, know the accompanying peace that the love of a dog brings. They offer that to us without limit. Their message is just be.