Unconditional Love – or – Loving someone like a pet

Loving someone like a pet. To love a pet is a demonstration of unconditional love.

First let me clarify the statement of loving someone like a pet, this title can sound either condescending or downright disrespectful. Let me also clarify I am talking about a pet you love, not one that bears the brunt of ones anger and ignorance. Pets are wonderful for providing companionship but they mostly become the object of our affection. In other words, they become an object in which we can express our unconditional love.

I have to be very clear about defining the type of pet owner I am referring to. Unfortunately there are some pet owners that seem to have pets to express their frustrations, anger, intolerance and ignorance, or they wish to have control over another creature. Oh these pet owners will show their pets love when they feel like it; but it is not unconditional love.  They love their pets based on them behaving a certain way. You will find these pet owners are physically abusive and yell at their pets with a certain amount of personal hostility, as if they are taking things personally. These types of pet owners will treat the people around them in the same manner.

I will use a dog as an example since they are the most popular pet and many other pets do not afford the type of closeness I am referring to. (It is after all hard to show affection to a goldfish or that pet snake.) The main point is we do things for a pet because we love them. When we adopt a pet into our lives we are committing to the care and comfort of that pet for as long as they live. We don’t offer to take them for a walk because we are expecting them to repay us in some way. We don’t fix them something to eat with the expectations they will somehow reciprocate. We just demonstrate unconditional love for them. We pet them, we scratch behind their ears, we rub their belly’s because we sense they gain some satisfaction from the gesture.

Unconditional love demonstrated

So loving a pet is about demonstrating kindness, empathy, generosity, sacrifice and patience. We do this because it allows us an outlet for unconditional love. We expect nothing in return, except the satisfaction of loving. There is also a certain joy in knowing our pet loves us unconditionally no matter what car we drive or how we dress or whether we have bad breath. When we scratch our pet and they show discomfort or turn away, we try something different, we try another area to scratch looking for a sense of approval. We don’t continue doing something that meets with disapproval from our pet. We don’t say I know this is what will make you happy whether you like it or not. Instead we are very sensitive to what our pet finds comforting or satisfying and we seek to give it to them. We don’t force our will on them, we just keep trying something different until it meets with their approval.

When we love our pets in this way, we are loving from the heart. We don’t rationalize our actions by thinking, justifying or basing our actions against what we receive in return. In other words we are loving without any ego whatsoever. There is not even the thought of ego in loving a pet. We bypass this “ego” when we are loving from the heart. When we love from the heart we are intimately in the present moment. There is no thinking about what the dog did yesterday or what it will do tomorrow. Our self-image is not threatened by our pet, we don’t worry about what they will think of us (well I hope most people don’t anyway.) There is only the act of unconditional love in the present moment. We have a one to one connection with the object of our love in that moment and nothing else exist.

How we love others -vs- the unconditional love we have for a pet

We tend to love people in a whole different manner. We are always weighing our kindness and deeds against what we ourselves are getting in return. We don’t love in the present moment, we are thinking about what they did yesterday or last week. We are thinking about what they “should” do later on or tomorrow or next week. We tend to always be comparing what we are doing and weighing that against what we are going to get in return.

Why don’t we expect anything in return from our dog? Well that seems obvious, after all our dog is not going to wash the dishes or do our laundry, however this is not the point. We have no expectations of the dog and that is the point. With people we always have expectations and judgments, we can’t seem to just love for the sake of loving. This is why so many families become dysfunctional and why so many relationships fail. It is also why most long term friendships remain healthy. In intimate relationships and families there are so many expectations and judgments; friends are not typically like that.

Applying the idea:

  • Try to be conscious of all the conditions we place on loving others.
    • Think of all the ways in which we are expecting something in return when we do kind things for another.
    • Think of how we analyze and judge all the things that have happened in the past as part of our decision to be kind, thoughtful and loving to another.
  • Try for just one day to love the people in your life like a pet, seek only to please and nurture them without any past considerations and without any expectation of receiving anything in return.

Please share if you found this post to be meaningful. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts… Thank you for reading : )

4 thoughts on “Unconditional Love – or – Loving someone like a pet

  1. Saulo Paiva says:

    Dear Chris,

    Another godsend. 🙂
    This week, for the first time in months, I felt jealous, upset and frustrated. I’m travelling with my grandparents possibly for the last time. We’ve vacationed together every year since I was 3, now I am living my early 30s and they are in their mid 80s. Grandpa is fine, drives and does everything, but it’s getting harder with grandma. On top of that, I felt jealous towards my ex’s new partner for the first time without any apparent reason.

    So I came here and found this. I commend you for a perfect time and am very grateful for what you’ve written. Indeed, nothing is by chance. My ego went chatty chatty and I managed to calm it down.


    1. Metroman says:

      Saulo, Thank you for the kind words. Isn’t it interesting that as one becomes more in tune with their spiritual side synchronicities seem more common, or at least we start to recognize the synchronicities that are occurring in our life. The thing I have learned in taking care of my aging Mother is a continuous commitment to compassion and patience. I recently placed her in hospice and she continues to lose memory and is now sometimes hostile towards me. I am calm and patient with her and I do not take things personally. She will invariably always apologize for being short with me and I always tell her it’s OK and that I will never become angry or upset with her. It is very easy to live by a simple philosophy of treating others as you would like to be treated. From my standpoint I think about how I would like to be treated as I get to the final years of my own life. I have seen first hand the progression of isolation, loneliness and debilitation the elderly experience. My Mother has not been a saint her entire life (has anyone?) but she has been very good to many people. I will always be able to look back on this period of my life and know I took good care of my Mother. This will be a source of satisfaction and contentment as I myself get old. Thank you again for your comments Saulo.

      Blessings, Chris

      1. Saulo Paiva says:


        I’m absolutely sure you will get the best care when you get old. This kind of thing always comes back to us.
        Since I started opening my eyes, I’ve been asked a few times “why did you do that” or “why are you doing this”, and my answer was “because that’s how I wish to be treated the day I become a parent/get old/get sick”, because we will all go through this in life.

        Sometimes I think that it should be part of high school education to work at a nursery home, or a soup canteen, so they understand how vulnerable our bodies will become as we age.

        Our spiritual vulnerabilities and strengths also manifest in the most interesting ways. I once heard something that would have hurt me much, and something clicked inside me. My answer was: “I understand. It’s completely fine.” And it was! My interlocutor was as surprised as.

        Especially our parents… mine had their flaws, and at some point I had my mother begging for forgiveness. As you well said, no one is a saint. They tried their best with the resources they had. This year I managed to forgive them, and I’m trying to teach my brother the same lesson.

        I believe that being in peace with my current family is a requirement to be in peace when I build my own.


        1. Metroman says:

          Saulo, thank you for your comments. I think your idea of having teenagers spending time in the service of others is a great idea. The one thing that you learn as you raise your own children is that you try your best to do what is right for your children. They will not always see it that way until they have their own children, only then will they understand what it is like to be a parent. We must also look at our parents as giving us a certain experience, what we do with that experience is up to us. Some will use it as an excuse for their unhappiness, some will blame their parents for everything that goes bad in their life. Sooner or later we must each take responsibility for our own growth and happiness. We must use our parents influence and behaviors as a means of comparing and contrasting. No one is perfect and each person is on their own personal journey. We can’t control what happens to us in life but we can always control how we react to it.

          Blessings, Chris

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