Unconditional love—who doesn’t want it? How many have been disappointed because love relationships didn’t prove to be perfect?
When we’re parents and our kids “love us to death” and we feel the same, most of us have suffered through those dreaded words, “I hate you!” Whether the words are spoken, hissed, or yelled, they take our breath away, break our hearts, push us into seeing the inevitable. This child is no longer the helpless, lovable bundle of joy we carried beneath our hearts, walked the floors with at night, nurtured and worried over.
Sometimes I think healthy human relationships don’t lend themselves to unconditional love. But that could be my mood talking at this time.
However, I do think if we’re pet owners, we might get it. Which brings me to my title.
Churchill is a pet character in one of my books. Oreo is one also, but she’s also in my real world.
She’s a ten pound, little ball of black and white fur we adopted seven years ago. Oreo lives up to her name. She’s sweet and good natured. She loves us unconditionally. Really. No strings, no moods, no serious misbehaviors, just tons of personality. A few days ago, she was snuggled up against my hubby’s side while he sat reading. Her little head rested on his thigh. She looked at him with rapt attention and devotion in her brown, amber-flecked, button eyes.
Hubby looked at me and asked, “How does she love me so much? She never wants to be away from me?”
“Except when she never wants to be away from me or Steven,” I answered feeling I felt the same way, but I didn’t want my hubby to get too impressed with himself. (See, there’s that example of imperfect human relationships. And yes, I love the man!)
But my hubby is right. Oreo loves us no matter what we might accidentally do. For example, sometimes my hubby will not see her long tail and steps on it. Or I might firmly say to her “Not yet,” when she wants her dinner, and I’m right in the middle of writing a scene and can’t stop. Well, Oreo just curls back onto my feet and waits until I finish the scene. No, “I hate you” comes my way. Thank goodness.
She’s been such an influence on our lives that I put her in one of my novels. Oreo—the pet character—becomes one of the reasons Katy, a grieving widow, finds a way to deal with her new life. Situations like how cute my Oreo is sitting in her little car seat and enjoying a ride, became part of a scene in the book. And like me, when Katy first spied the little black and white fluff ball, she fell in love and adopted it. One of the few times, I was channeling my life experience with a main character in a book.
Just as our pet has become so vital in our lives and loves us unconditionally, so does the fictional Oreo love Katy.
But I confess, before I created the fictional Oreo, I created another fictional pet.
I named this one Churchill. It seemed to fit an Old English Sheepdog. I chose that breed of dog because I’ve always thought they were cute. I researched the breed to discover what traits they were known for. I discovered my choice was spot on for what I wanted of this fictional pet.
This energetic, lovable breed was the perfect pet to provide “unconditional love” to my heroine Gabrielle who’d been devastated by the sadness in her life. Because of her losses, she’s determined never to let herself love anyone or anything again. But Churchill was the first one to start breaking down her barriers. He steals every scene I put him in so I had to be careful about that. Churchill was like an overly energetic, very furry, four-pawed fairy godfather. Gabrielle’s icy reserve never had a chance with that furry male. And he loved her unconditionally.
So readers, what do you think? Is “unconditional love” something we find in real life with pets? Or is it only found in some fiction if we enjoy reading that kind with its satisfying, happy ending?