Millions of people love their pets, and there is a compelling reason for that: they give us unconditional love.
Our pets, especially our cats and dogs, love us no matter what mood we are in or how we are feeling. Our pets can often pick up on our feelings, and they console and comfort us, and they are always there for us. That is something we often aspire to in our personal lives with the people closest to us.
Unconditional love means understanding and accepting a person, even with all of their faults and foibles. For humans, this is so much easier said than done. If we can look beyond the annoyances and quirks, and value the steadiness, goodness, reliability and love we gain from our loved ones, as we do with our pets, we reinforce the bonds of unconditional love.
Jason N. Linder, doctor of psychology, wrote in an article, “The 3 Reasons we Love Our Pets So Much,” posted at www.psychologytoday.com in April 2022: “Pets understand us non-verbally. They’re in sync with us emotionally and aren’t distracted by the words and other complexities or nuances in human relationships … they just love us no matter what’s happening. We bond with pets and each other through emotion.”
Later in the article, he writes, “Brene Brown, Sue Johnson, and Les Greenberg, among other emotion and relationship scientists, have made it absolutely clear: humans are much more emotional than we are cognitive, and pets get us and use this to connect deeply with us.”
In an article posted at Aish.com, “Noah 5782: Noah’s ‘Arc,’ ” Rabbi Yitzchak Zweig writes: “Americans have a love affair with pets. In 2020 it was estimated that almost 70% of homes owned at least one pet, including almost 58% of American homes owning a dog.”
The article goes on to say: “Both the Bible and Jewish law teach us to treat animals with kindness and respect and to protect nature and conserve its resources. Indeed, such teachings are fundamental to Judaism and its traditions. The rules governing the raising and slaughter of animals used for food are especially detailed. It’s clear from these laws that part of the original purpose was to ensure that such creatures are not subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering.”
Rabbi Zweig continues, “The eminent historian W. E. H. Lecky (1838-1903) in his monumental work ‘History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne,’ (published in 1869), observes that ‘the Jews have the longest history of concern for animals of any people,’ and notes that ‘tenderness to animals is one of the most beautiful features in the Old Testament’ and that ‘Rabbinical writers have been remarkable for the great emphasis with which they inculcated the duty of kindness to animals.’ ”
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
I did not know the true meaning of a pet’s love until one recently came into my life. And now I know. I feel comforted, calm, accepted, and it feels so loving and healing. We need more of this, especially in today’s world.
Here’s to honoring our pets!
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is an award-winning radio producer, business owner and leader. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, and is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award. Her new “Positive Aging with Patricia Raskin” podcast is broadcast on the Rhode Island PBS website, ripbs.org/positiveaging.