Are Relationships Going to the Dogs?

By Linda Commito

My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.—Anonymous

Do you long to experience an unconditional love relationship?

Despite our disillusionment over the years, perhaps deep down many of us are still holding out hope for “The One”—the ideal person who will make us feel special, listen to us, comfort us when we feel sad and lonely, take care of us when we’re sick, greet us when we come home, be our best friend, and always believe the best about us.

We may have thought we’d found that partner, some of us may have even married him or her. And we thought it would last forever—but forever is a long time and people change. Perhaps we’ve become disenchanted; desirous, but less hopeful, of finding someone to share our lives with.

Where can we find that unconditional love, that consistency in our lives? Those who have deeply loved their canine companions can talk to you about unconditional love. Dogs have been devoted to humans for centuries. They were domesticated to be our best friend, ally….and over time that relationship has evolved. Dogs sometimes become surrogate children, friends, family, and partners. They listen with total attention, give affection liberally, love us no matter what we do or don’t do, and even comfort us when we experience sadness or loss. And they inspire us to great love.

My friend Paula Montana, an advocate for dogs of all shapes and conditions—she adopted a three legged dog, Opie, who became the “love of her life,” and fostered a one-eyed, single toothed Chihuahua (beautiful only in her eyes)—asked me, “Why can’t I love human beings like I do my dog?” Paula laughingly answered her own question, “Oh, it’s because they don’t talk. They don’t argue with us.” We couldn’t argue with that one! And we came up with other qualities that we both have discovered in our dogs: they offer total devotion and unconditional love.

“So,” I asked, “how can we be more like dogs?” Paula replied, “Be in the moment. What would it mean if we could do that for one another? It would mean a lot of forgiveness, not carrying grudges from one moment to the next.”

Paula reminisced about her dog Buckwheat, who had passed many years earlier: “She was so old and her breath smelled so badly—and I didn’t care. Where was that love coming from…because I LOVED her so much!”

I could relate. I’ve always been a dog lover, but never so much as in my single adult years when my dog was a huge part of my life. It was an unconditional love relationship, a total acceptance that I rarely found with humans.

My German shepherd, who had MS, arthritis, and needed three shots and eye drops daily, was my “love” for eight years. Somehow the ritual of putting in eye drops and giving him shots became a tender time for both of us. I loved him so much I would do anything to maintain his health for as long as I was able. He outlasted many a relationship and was dedicated right to the very end of his life. How is it that we can inspire and experience that kind of love?

Terry, my mom, LOVES dogs and believes, “Dogs give more than they require. They make us feel needed and loved. Most of the time dogs are better companions than humans.  The human is complex with mood swings…sometimes you get along and sometimes you don’t.” She continued, “It’s easier to live with a dog than with your husband. Get a dog! Find your best friend.” My mom has kept her husband AND she has chosen a dog—an incorrigible two-year-old terror (I mean terrier). It’s so sweet to see them acting like a new family.

She sums it up by saying, “My dog loves me and I love him. It gives me a purpose, he entertains me and gives me attention and love…It fulfills my needs. He’s well worth it!”

How can we learn from our canine companions more about what it means to be in a loving relationship? How can we love others the way our dogs love us? I would like to be the kind of person that my dog has always believed me to be AND I would love to be in a partnership with a human where we’d share the same qualities of loyalty, playfulness, respect and unconditional acceptance, love, and friendship. Well, I’m willing to learn. Woof! Woof!

Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving, and interconnected place. Her award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Linda believes that in order to inspire a kinder world the place to start is with children. She recently volunteered at a Title One elementary school, working with over 500 students, to create and facilitate “Kindness Starts With Me,” the results of which include a website ( and a book for children. Also visit for more information and/or to sign up for an uplifting monthly newsletter.

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