Unconditional love deserves so much more

28 May 2019 | Columns

Mariselle Stofberg

When people are mistreated we get enraged. When we see a person being abused we are urged to intervene. When we see a person in need or distress most people don’t hesitate to offer aid or assistance. When we see an animal in the same situation, however, something changes. Somewhere along the line we stop caring, because they are only animals. We make ourselves believe they have no feelings. Animals are reduced to objects we can use and abuse as we see fit. When those eyes stare at you, pleading to be helped or just to be loved, we somehow stop caring.

Our laws are not able to provide these animals with the necessary protection. Our legal system has an inability to punish offenders. We post and share videos of people mistreating animals. We might not share this mentality of degrading animals to objects, but we don’t speak up. Silence makes you an accomplice to this detrimental part of our society. The sad part of this entire cycle is that those animals that are mistreated love you unconditionally. To them you are their world. You are the most important thing in their lives and they will forever be loyal to you, even if you mistreat them - even if you abuse them or ignore them. They believe that we, as humans, might someday change. They believe in the possibility of love even amidst the pain they are experiencing.

I had the unfortunate opportunity to once again see the inability of people to take five minutes to help animals that were not able to help themselves. Two dogs were standing along the road, and one of them starting walking into the middle of the road. He was scared, underweight and desperate for anyone to stop and help. No one stopped. No one was interested to give that poor dog five minutes. When we stopped and I opened the door he came running into the car and jumped onto my mother’s lap. Instantly he laid down his head and the gratitude in those brown eyes nearly broke my heart. Upon closer inspection we saw that someone tried to castrate that poor dog and had left the piece of wire still attached to the dog. He was severely injured, scared and frightened. The other dog was so concerned about her companion and afraid of being left along the road that she tried to jump through the window in an attempt not to be left behind.

When we opened the door she jumped in and laid down on the seat. Both dogs were severely malnourished, scared and in very poor condition. At the first sign of love and someone who was willing to help, their entire demeanour changed. They stopped trembling and a sense of complete appreciation was evident in every part of their being. At that moment I broke down. My heart broke and my soul wept for this cruelty I was forced to witness. Tears of frustration, disappointment in the human race and simple anger kept rolling. I was unable to comprehend how one person could mistreat two beautiful animals who only want one thing in life - to be loved.

Pythagoras once said that animals share with us the privilege of having a soul. They are intelligent beings who poses the ability to care and feel. They are the image of loving someone unconditionally. They love you more than they love themselves. They are utterly loyal, even when we don’t deserve it. They forgive you, even when you are not able to forgive yourself. They see the best in you, even when the world only sees your mistakes. They are excited to see you every time you walk in the door. They crave your company in a world where people are too busy to pay attention. They see past your walls. They see the pain you try to hide and they care about you - not your looks, the car you drive, your salary or societal status. In a materialistic world, they only care about your soul.

My dog makes me feel wanted and special every single day. She has the ability to sense when I need comfort. She always makes me laugh. She’s highly intelligent, sensitive, clumsy, funny, energetic, loveable, overdramatic, forgiving, strong and loyal. She was willing to jump between an attacker and my sister when they broke into our house. She was stabbed and thrown with a glass bottle and still kept defending her family. She was willing to put her life at risk to save ours. She had to fight for her life on an operating table because she wanted nothing more than to protect her family. ‘Objects’ don’t possess such bravery, unconditional selflessness and strength, which are an integral part of the nature of animals. They deserve so much more than we are giving them.

If we could have even a fraction of the soul of animals, how different this world would be.