Virtues, Dogs & Love: Scattered Thoughts in the Wake of the Orlando Tragedy

When I was a kid, I was taught the basic virtues: love, honesty, charity, hope, loyalty, modesty, tolerance, temperance, courage. I was taught that these are what we should strive for, as individuals and as a culture.

As a kid, I remember thinking how well these virtues describe a happy, healthy dog. As an adult, it sometimes seems that too many humans have too little of any of these virtues.

This is a picture of me and our dog.

Addison & Me, June 10, 2016
Addison & me, June 10, 2016

She doesn’t care what color my skin is, what country I come from, what my gender is, who I want to have sex with (or don’t want to have sex with), what god I believe in (or none at all), how much money I make.

None of that matters.

She only knows that we love her as best we can and she loves us. We keep her safe, sheltered, fed. We play with her and show her the world. We’re kind to her and we will never hurt her. And for that, she gives us everything she has.

That’s all that matters. Everything else is just vanity.

Dogs love so easily. There’s never any struggle for them to love unconditionally. It’s their default state.

But they don’t hate. They may learn to fear, they may become conditioned to be distrustful, but their fear is only ever that: fear. It never translates into hatred. Dogs can learn fear and caution through repeated experience but they never hold grudges.

And no matter how damaged or distrustful or fearful a dog may be, they can always be led back to love.

It’s so easy to love each other. Why do we have such a hard time with it?

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