When you do Philosophy 101, you quickly get introduced to the concept of “absolute”. An absolute is a value that cannot be defined except by describing an example of it or saying what it is not. So Truth, Beauty, Good and Justice, for instance, are all absolutes. If you are asked to say what these things are, you can’t answer without a “well, for instance”. To this list of absolutes, I would add “Love”. You can’t reduce an absolute or have different quantities or amounts (a little bit true, for instance, isn’t “Truth” any more than you can sensibly say “a little bit pregnant”. It just is or it isn’t).
Which leads me to something our shelter manager said.
I was asking her where one of our favourite residents was because I hadn’t seen him for a while and she said that he was living at the vets at the moment. One of the vet nurses had fallen in love with him and when it was possible for him to leave, she was going to adopt him. We noted a couple of other dogs in this category currently, being fostered by team members, young dogs with different issues who would be unlikely to live a full life span. They would not get their fair measure. All of these dogs are deeply loved, not as in “Aww that’s so sad – I “love” him”, but with a capital L and a lot of heat and energy and commitment.
And then she said this:
“Buttercup [not his real name] is like these other dogs. They are dogs you have to love hard because you won’t get much time with them.”
Now our shelter manager doesn’t care much about the niceties of philosophical absolutes and so I didn’t voice my thoughts about whether you can love hard or is love just love. I didn’t question it because I didn’t need to; we know what she means, don’t we? Love them hard, with your whole heart and your attention and every ounce of your imagination for their happiness and enrichment, because you’re not going to get your 14+ years. You might get two years, you might get nine months. The love you have for that dog will be no less exquisite and perfect in a nine-month-period than in a 14-year-period. Love does not reduce, cannot be lessened or cheapened or offered at half price. It is an absolute.
So if you are thinking of adopting a dog and are trying to mathematically calculate, due to its age or ailments, whether you’ll get the appropriate quantity of love out of this dog, than be assured, you totally will. Love them hard, however long you have them for.