My wife and I are animal lovers–more correctly, all-of-God’s-creation lovers, and we’ve adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. A person (I forget at the moment who it was nor the circumstance. Doesn’t matter) once commented to me on how well animals, especially cats and dogs, seem to respond positively to my touch: they seem to gravitate towards me and love to be held and caressed by me. Yet, for him, animals didn’t seem as friendly, even though he claimed to love animals. Unless he held out food to them, they didn’t want to come to him.
I’ve sometimes wondered if should have told him why. Would it have made a difference, or would he have been insulted? If I’d have told him that the way one loves makes all the difference. For example, did he find that little puppy dog cute that a friend held out to him, and, because of its cuteness, wanted to hold it and pet it–or did he see that the little ball of energy needed someone to care and give it assurance that it was loved?
Let me explain. I’ve already mentioned that my wife and I have adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. Some of the pets, especially cats, found their way to our doorstep already fully vetted. That is, they already were either neutered or spayed and had received all their vaccinations. At first, we were a bit puzzled about this. Why would someone give up a pet that already was fully vetted? That also meant that they must have bought the cat from either a licensed pet store, or from one of the local animal shelter groups. Another observation was that these cats, although adult, were all under a year old. Then, on a chance encounter with a family that had just adopted a young kitten, the puzzle came together.
The daughter of this family had been bugging her mother for a pet, so one day, off they trundled to a pet shop. There they found a mother cat that had fairly recently had a batch of kittens. I imagined the scene that must have taken place.
“Oh look at that cute little calico kitten!” the girl exclaimed excitedly. “It has such beautiful little round blue eyes! I want her, Mommy! Please!”
So, of course, Mommy bought the kitten and they took it home where, for the first couple months, the girl spend endless ours playing with it and making sure that it was properly fed. As that ‘cute’ kitten gradually grew into an adult cat, the novelty of owning a ‘cute kitten’ wore off and the young girl no longer was interested in caring for it, and the mother certainly didn’t have the time to clean litter boxes so, out the door went the cat! Find yourself a new home!
And that, my friend, is the difference between selfish and unselfish love for pets. One loves animals because it pleases the person, while the other loves animals because it pleases the animal.