My family loves me always, but they don’t like me the same amount every day. My partner loves me always, but his opinion of me day-to-day can fluctuate, depending on whether I have cleaned the egg pan or not. Love is the immovable bedrock at the centre of any meaningful relationship: like is the topsoil just above it, forever being scooped and swept and heaped and smashed. If all we needed in this life was unconditional love, then the phrase “you know I love you unconditionally” wouldn’t so commonly be followed by “but, here’s some incredibly precise, accurate and inadvertently hurtful feedback”.
The dog does not have feedback. The dog thinks I’m cool regardless of what I do. I cannot stress enough how much my dog Sylvie thinks I’m the coolest person on earth.
She’s got this way of listening when I talk to her – you probably know it, if you have a dog. She has one ear up, one ear down, a little twitch in the side of her mouth and her paws are crossed together. The whole expression comes together as, “Yes, you were saying? Go on?”
I like you, I say to her, and she does her “Yes, go on?” face again. “And I like myself,” I continue. “Unconditionally.”
This is an adapted excerpt from Four-Legged Therapy published by Aster