To Love A Dog
(New York, NY)
Family you love because you just do. You don't pick or choose them. It's an unconditional love no matter their mistakes, annoyance, personality or errors. You have no choice, and it's ok. You can always forgive, and repair any damage, because it's family.
Friends you love because you made a decision to. You chose them. The friendship love is conditioned on a balanced give and take. You can walk away at any point, and decide how far you want to be involved. It only exists because it beats attrition.
A relationship with a dog is a unique hybrid. As much as we want to make it equal, it's not. We love our dog like a best friend and our dog loves us like its only family. We chose our dog, it did not choose us. Our dog loves us no matter how many times we yell and discipline them, but we only love it because it loves us back, every time. We can walk away and leave it whenever we want, but our dog will never pick a new owner just because it's more convenient.
It almost feels like we cheated them. We have millions of worries, ambitions, concerns, desires, and thoughts. Our dog only cares about us, and being with us. No matter when, where, or how. You can walk away for a year, but still know that upon your return, your dog is not asking you what took so long. It's too busy running its own welcome back party.
All we can do is just recognize and appreciate their love for us. We can't match their love, it's just not possible. If you're taking them out for a walk, don't take the shortcut, take the long way. They won't care either way, but that's just a little more time you spent with them that you can't take back.