Churchill & Oreo:Unconditional Love

How Could I Not Adopt Her?

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.

I Love My Ride

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?

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12 Comments on “Churchill & Oreo:Unconditional Love”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    MJ, we’ve had two dogs like that. We still miss Lulu, our last dog. I often think of Lady, our first Springer Spaniel. We have two great dogs now. We won’t get another one after they’re gone, at least not for a long while, as we want to travel. It will seem odd not to have them with their canine ability to love wholeheartedly.

    We do have a cat I love, too. She loves us back, but I do think she has conditions. She is, after all, a great mouser and she knows her worth.

  2. caseyclifford Says:


    We’ve never had a cat so I didn’t feel I could mention them. But you do them so very well. In your Catitude and Fat Cat short in Entangled.

    We also went a very long time between dogs for the same reason you mentioned.

  3. virginia mccullough Says:

    Your post reminded me of the saying (maybe from Truman): If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

    I’ve observed dogs and their unconditional love for their owners and it’s seems unique. I’ve never owned a dog and don’t care to have a pet of any kind, but I like to use dogs in certain books, too.

    Cute photos, too.

  4. Nancy Kaye Says:

    Yes, I think pets provide that love to us. However, they can also turn on you. I was dog-sitting for Cosmo this weekend. He never left my side. It was great! Then the doorbell rang. My daughter was here to get him. Suddenly, I was sitting by myself. He was curled up on her lap. I missed him. Loyalty is also a trait the pets teach us. He loved me, but she was really his “Mom”. I couldn’t blame him for getting back to his “real home”. I sure did enjoy the attention while it lasted.

  5. carol gianforte Says:

    sorry, dear friends and family–but I must say that some of my best moments in life have been with the two dogs my husband and I were privileged to own!! A privilege it was!

    loved the name Churchill for an English sheep dog character. Perfect!

  6. caseyclifford Says:


    Wait till you see what a character he is. You’ll love him. I certainly don’t hold you in less esteem for clinging to best moments with your dogs. 🙂

  7. caseyclifford Says:


    I really understand what you’re saying about not wanting a pet. At this stage of your life it would just be another responsibility to tie you down. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  8. caseyclifford Says:


    Well, in the book with the fictional Oreo, there’s also a Cosmo, named after your granddog. The two dogs are littermates but Cosmo is such a GQ guy even as a puppy!

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  9. Anne Parent Says:

    I do agree that our pets, in particular, dogs love us unconditionally. Of course, my little dog with a complex does try to bite the hand that feeds him sometimes, but then he looks so apologetic. I love him unconditionally, too.

  10. I had an Old English Sheep Dog. His name was Humphrey–also fitting of an English gentleman. Oreo is so aptly named as well.

    I’m a “dog-person” and I believe in unconditional love all the way. I’ve had cats and a cockatoo, they have a more conditional attitude when it come to accepting me at least. I can’t speak about other pets (fish, reptiles, horses, etc.). But a dog’s love is complete and without condition. Non-fiction all the way!

  11. caseyclifford Says:


    To my knowledge Oreo’s never bitten the hand that feeds her, just licks them to show appreciation. About the only time she’s really upset is whenever the neighbor’s dog comes over to pee on our patio. Absolutely gets our little darling snarling and very feisty.

  12. caseyclifford Says:


    I so enjoy your blog and look forward to the chuckles it provides. I’m with you about not being able to comment on cats as we’ve never had one. The ones I’ve encountered seem to march to their own self love and expect their humans to give them space.

    Love the name Humphrey!

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